Significantly weakened by withdrawals of Ellyse Perry, Sophie Devine and Ashleigh Gardner but the signing of Shafali Verma is perhaps the most exciting of the whole competition, on the back of her top-order pyrotechnics against England. Exciting young seam-bowling attack with Central Sparks’ new-ball combination, Issy Wong and Emily Arlott – likely to open the bowling together, while Kirstie Gordon has a point to prove after losing her England central contract.
Verdict: Verma can win them games on her own but will need support from the middle order.
Possible XI: Shafali Verma, Katie Mack, Amy Jones (capt/wk), Erin Burns, Georgia Elwiss, Evelyn Jones, Marie Kelly, Ria Fackrell/Abtaha Maqsood, Issy Wong, Emily Arlott, Kirstie Gordon
Coach: Trevor Griffin
Captain: Heather Knight
Overseas players: Deandra Dottin (West Indies), Deepti Sharma (India), Chloe Tryon (South Africa)
The Knight-Griffin combination that has enjoyed success in both the KSL and the WBBL takes on the Hundred, with a strong top order that should see them score consistent runs throughout. Their bowling attack is a little lighter, with Freya Davies the spearhead, but Knight and overseas players Deepti Sharma and Chloe Tryon offer useful spin options, particularly on slower surfaces, while Charlie Dean is the leading wicket-taker in this season’s Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy.
Verdict: Strong squad which should be eyeing a top-three finish, especially if the batting line-up clicks.
Possible XI: Tammy Beaumont, Deandra Dottin, Heather Knight (capt), Deepti Sharma, Chloe Tryon, Naomi Dattani, Amara Carr (wk), Grace Scrivens/Dani Gibson, Charlie Dean, Freya Davies, Sophie Munro
Coach: Paul Shaw
Captain: Kate Cross
Overseas players: Harmanpreet Kaur (India), Mignon du Preez, Lizelle Lee (both South Africa)
Emma Lamb is the in-form allrounder in the country, leading both the runs and wickets charts in the early rounds of the Charlotte Edwards Cup, and could form a powerful opening partnership with Lizelle Lee, while Harmanpreet Kaur and Mignon du Preez add quality to the middle order. The spin attack of Sophie Ecclestone, Alex Hartley and Hannah Jones is strong but Kate Cross carries a heavy burden in the seam department.
Verdict: Emirates Old Trafford’s spinning pitches and big boundaries should boost their chances.
Possible XI: Lizelle Lee, Emma Lamb, Harmanpreet Kaur, Mignon du Preez, Georgie Boyce, Cordelia Griffith, Ellie Threlkeld (wk), Sophie Ecclestone, Kate Cross (capt), Alex Hartley, Hannah Jones
Coach: Dani Hazell
Captain: Lauren Winfield-Hill
Overseas players: Laura Kimmince (Australia), Laura Wolvaardt (South Africa), Jemimah Rodrigues (India)
Strong, deep batting line-up but bowling attack looks light on paper and will need either plenty of runs to play with or an unheralded domestic player to step up. Tough calls to make over batting order: should the silky Laura Wolvaardt open or continue at No. 4, where she has batted for South Africa, and will the specialist finisher Laura Kimmince face enough balls to make an impact?
Verdict: Batting strength offset by bowling attack’s lack of international quality.
Possible XI: Lauren Winfield-Hill (capt), Laura Wolvaardt, Jemimah Rodrigues, Holly Armitage/Sterre Kalis, Laura Kimmince, Alice Davidson-Richards, Beth Langston, Bess Heath (wk), Linsey Smith, Phoebe Graham, Katie Levick
Coach: Jon Batty
Overseas players: Shabnim Ismail, Marizanne Kapp, Dane van Niekerk (all South Africa)
Different squad composition to the majority of the tournament, with all three overseas players – all South Africans – offering bowling options. Lacking a star-name England player but Tash Farrant, Mady Villiers and Fran Wilson are all regular squad members and Georgia Adams is pressing for inclusion. New-ball attack of Farrant’s left-arm swing and Shabnim Ismail’s genuine pace should be potent.
Verdict: Competitive squad that can challenge for a top-three finish, especially if South African core performs.
Possible XI: Georgia Adams, Sarah Bryce (wk), Marizanne Kapp, Dane van Niekerk, Fran Wilson, Alice Capsey, Grace Gibbs, Mady Villiers, Tash Farrant, Shabnim Ismail, Dani Gregory
Coach: Charlotte Edwards
Overseas players: Stafanie Taylor (West Indies), Smriti Mandhana (India), Amanda-Jade Wellington (Australia)
Destructive opening combination between Smriti Mandhana and Danni Wyatt, and head coach Charlotte Edwards was particularly pleased to secure Sophia Dunkley‘s services before her England breakthrough this summer. Versatile seam attack with Lauren Bell’s height, Anya Shrubsole’s swing and Tara Norris’ left-arm angle while Amanda-Jade Wellington’s legbreaks and Charlotte and Stafanie Taylor’s darts are all useful spin options.
Verdict: Top three should be the minimum expectation.
Possible XI: Smriti Mandhana, Danni Wyatt, Stafanie Taylor, Sophia Dunkley, Maia Bouchier, Carla Rudd (wk), Anya Shrubsole, Amanda-Jade Wellington, Tara Norris, Charlotte Taylor/Fi Morris, Lauren Bell
Coach: Salliann Beams
Captain: Nat Sciver
Overseas players: Rachel Priest (New Zealand), Sammy-Jo Johnson, Heather Graham (both Australia)
Ellyse Villani, Annabel Sutherland and Sophie Molineux’s withdrawals have hit the Rockets hard: veteran keeper-batter Rachel Priest starred in the KSL for Western Storm but Sammy-Jo Johnson and Heather Graham have a single Australia cap between them. But with three of England’s best T20 players in Nat Sciver, Katherine Brunt and Sarah Glenn, they have more than enough talent to overcome those losses and compete for a top-three spot. Expect a fluid batting line-up, with Glenn an option as a pinch-hitting opener.
Verdict: Remarkable batting depth and all-round quality of England stars means they should be in contention.
Possible XI: Rachel Priest (wk), Nat Sciver (capt), Michaela Kirk, Heather Graham, Sammy-Jo Johnson, Katherine Brunt, Abi Freeborn, Sarah Glenn, Kathryn Bryce, Teresa Graves, Lucy Higham
Perhaps the weakest squad in the competition on paper but with enough talent to cause a few upsets: Georgia Redmayne had a dominant 50-over season in Australia, Hayley Matthews comes into the competition on the back of an ODI hundred, and Sophie Luff and Bryony Smith have been dominant in domestic cricket. Sarah Taylor‘s return adds intrigue while Piepa Clearly will lead the seam attack with Katie George’s injury meaning she has played as a specialist batter for most of the summer.
Verdict: Bowling attack lacks international quality of other sides, while batting isn’t strong enough to compensate.
Possible XI: Georgia Redmayne, Bryony Smith, Hayley Matthews, Sophie Luff, Sarah Taylor (wk), Katie George, Georgia Hennessy, Piepa Cleary, Lissy Macleod, Alex Griffiths, Nicole Harvey
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98