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English stars Eve Jones, Linsey Smith, Maia Bouchier and Issy Wong to play in WBBL, live on Sky Sports

Watch the Women's Big Bash League live on Sky Sports from Thursday; Maia Bouchier and Linsey Smith to team up at Melbourne Stars, while Issy Wong will represent defending champions Sydney Thunder; PCA Women's Player of the Year Eve Jones signed by Melbourne Renegades for 2021-22 season

Linsey Smith, Northern Superchargers (PA Images)
Image: English spinner Linsey Smith has been signed by Melbourne Stars for the WBBL

A lot of the talk over recent weeks has been about English cricketers travelling to Australia.

Four Englishwomen are already there and preparing for the Women's Big Bash League, with the 2021-22 season getting underway on Thursday, live on Sky Sports, as two-time champions Sydney Sixers face Melbourne Stars.

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Last year's beaten finalists Stars have signed spinner Smith and belligerent batter Bouchier for this campaign, with the two hoping to fill the voids left by fellow English stars Katherine Brunt and Nat Sciver.

Smith and Bouchier both impressed during the inaugural edition of The Hundred - the former bagging nine wickets for Northern Superchargers and the latter scoring 92 runs despite facing only 64 balls in her role as a middle-order hitter for runners-up Southern Brave.

Maia Bouchier, England Women, cricket (PA Images)
Image: Maia Bouchier made her England debut this summer

Bouchier made her England debut during the T20I series against New Zealand last month, while Smith made the most recent of her nine T20I appearances in the summer of 2019.

A strong winter with Stars could thrust Smith - who collected 31 wickets in all domestic competitions during the 2021 English summer - back into the mix for one of her country's spin spots, although it is a crowded field with Charlie Dean, Mady Villiers, Sarah Glenn and England's No 1, Sophie Ecclestone, ahead of her at present.

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EVE JONES (Melbourne Renegades)

Jones is yet to make her international debut but if she continues the form she showed this summer it might not be too long before the left-hander wins higher honours.

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The 29-year-old became the first non-international to scoop the PCA Women's Player of the Year award after amassing over 800 runs combined for Central Sparks in the Charlotte Edwards Cup and Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy and Birmingham Phoenix in The Hundred.

Eve Jones, Birmingham Phoenix (PA Images)
Image: Eve Jones scored over 800 runs across The Hundred, Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy and Charlotte Edwards Cup in 2021

Jones was also named Charlotte Edwards Cup Player of the Year having topped the run-scoring charts in the T20 competition with 276 in six innings, including three half-centuries, at an average of 55.20.

Like Smith, Jones will be looking to use the WBBL to show England what they are missing. There is probably still time for the top-order batter to propel herself into contention for both the Ashes in Australia in January and the 50-over World Cup in New Zealand in March and April.

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ISSY WONG (Sydney Thunder)

Thunder have picked up a shot of lightning with the acquisition of fast bowler Wong, who has gone on record saying she wants to become the first woman to top 80mph. The 19-year-old already hits speeds in excess of 70mph, which helped her snare six wickets for Phoenix in The Hundred.

Issy Wong, Birmingham Phoenix, The Hundred (PA Images)
Image: Issy Wong (left) will add pace to the Sydney Thunder bowling attack

Wong - signed as an injury replacement for South African quick Shabnim Ismail - said: "It was a no-brainer. When you get such an opportunity you can't say no to it. I'm still very young, and to have this sort of exposure, and in such a respected league as the WBBL, is super-exciting."

Thunder will be looking for back-to-back WBBL titles and if Wong can support Sammy Jo-Johnson and Hannah Darlington in the way the 14-wicket Ismail did last term they may have a chance, although the absence of Tammy Beaumont and Heather Knight from the batting line-up is a blow.

Watch the Women's Big Bash League live on Sky Sports from Thursday.

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