MIDLAND-Guildford star Elyse Villani has been announced as the captain of the Western Fury for the 2016-17 Women’s National Cricket League season.
Villani (27) takes over as skipper from Nicole Bolton, who is stepping aside from the role to bring a better balance to her state and national commitments.
The Fury has also confirmed the side’s final two contracted players in fellow Midland-Guildford all-rounder Taneale Peschel and wicketkeeper Emily Smith ahead of the new season that starts on Friday.
Fury coach Lisa Keightley said Australian international batswoman Villani, who has previously captained the Shooting Stars and Victoria at under-age level, was the clear choice as skipper following Bolton’s decision.
“I’ve loved every minute working with Nicole throughout the (Women’s Big Bash League) and she’s led the team extremely well,” Keightley said.
“It’s the best decision for Nicole at this present time and it may change moving forward.
“Elyse has been a leader within the group and it’s a natural progression for her to captain and one that the players and coaches are looking forward to working with her.”
Villani was excited about her new role and praised Bolton, who has skippered the Fury for four of the past five seasons.
“Nicole has obviously made a tough decision, one I know the entire WACA family respects and supports her entirely,” Villani said.
“I feel very honoured to take the reins this season and am looking forward to the challenges that lay ahead.
“The girls have put in a tremendous amount of work throughout pre-season and we are all looking forward to kicking off our season at home this weekend.”
The addition of Peschel and Smith rounds out the Fury squad ahead of the side’s opening round, where they will face ACT Meteors and VicSpirit at the WACA Ground on Friday and Sunday respectively.
Peschel is a right-hand batswoman and right-arm medium bowler who has earned her spot with good performances for Midland-Guildford in Female Premier Cricket.
She is also an outstanding indoor cricketer having represented Australia.
“Taneale impressed through Premier Cricket last season and was added to the Academy,” Keightley said.
“She has trained well through pre-season and deserves her contract.
“I’m confident that the experience gained playing for the Australia Indoor team will transfer across to this format.”
Smith (21) crosses from Victoria and was part of the Hobart Hurricanes side, which made the WBBL semi-finals last season.
“Emily adds depth in our wicket-keeping ranks following the retirement of Jenny Wallace,” Keightley said.
“With Emily and Megan Banting working hard together, we feel we’ve strengthened that department.”