Stars go direct to sign English star Dunkley

There will be a strong English flavour at the Stars in WBBL|09, with Sophia Dunkley the latest to commit to the Melbourne outfit

The first of the six 'direct nominations' that circumvented the WBBL draft has found a home with the Melbourne Stars signing on Sophia Dunkley.

The English top-order batter joins compatriots Maia Bouchier and Alice Capsey as the Stars' internationals for Weber WBBL|09.

Capsey was taken by the Stars as a platinum level signing with pick four in the draft, meaning she will earn $110,000 this season, while Bouchier as pick 13 in the gold tier will earn $90,000.

Dunkley, however, can only earn a maximum of $61,750 under the direct nomination mechanism that limits her pay to 95 per cent of the silver tier.

Sophia Dunkley launches one in the most recent edition of The Hundred

The reduced salary is the price players paid for taking a direct route and bypassing the inaugural draft in a mechanism that is unique to the WBBL draft.

Five other players opted to sacrifice potential draft earnings and take the direct route: England pair Tammy Beaumont and Amy Jones, South Africa pair Mignon du Preez and Lizelle Lee, and New Zealand's Suzie Bates.

The Sydney Thunder were the only club that filled their international roster with three draft picks, leaving the seven other clubs to either pick up players that had made direct nominations, or negotiate a deal with an undrafted player from the pool of 99 players who nominated.

Of the direct nominations, England wicketkeeper-batter Amy Jones has been linked to Perth Scorchers where she is expected to join draft picks Sophie Devine and Danni Wyatt.

White Ferns allrounder Bates is likely to sign with Sydney Sixers, who opted for Chloe Tryon and fellow Kiwi Jess Kerr at the draft.

Du Preez and Lee both played with the Hobart Hurricanes last season, with Lee also recently a teammate of their second-round pick Bryony Smith in the Hundred and a regular fixture of the Tasmanian Tigers top-order in 2022-23.

While Lee is understood to continue her Hobart connection, Du Preez is understood to be heading further north, potentially to link up with the Brisbane Heat.

England opener Beaumont – who represented the Thunder for the past three seasons – rounds out the group who bypassed the draft, but needs to find a new home given the Thunders' three picks in the draft. Beaumont has previously played for the Adelaide Strikers and, more recently, the Renegades in WBBL|05.

The 25-year-old Dunkley, who also provides an option with her leg-spin, has not played the WBBL previously but will enter the competition off the back of a strong showing in the Hundred where she hit 262 runs at 37.42 and a strike rate of 138.62 in seven games.

Dunkley's rapid knock shifts momentum in chase

"We are rapt to be able to add someone of Sophia's quality to the Stars squad," said Stars General Manager, Blair Crouch.

"To secure three of the English starting XI is a testament to the strength of the WBBL as one of the leading domestic competitions in the world."

Melbourne Stars WBBL|09 squad (so far): Maia Bouchier (ENG), Alice Capsey (ENG), Sophie Day, Sophia Dunkley (ENG), Tess Flintoff, Kim Garth, Meg Lanning, Rhys McKenna, Sasha Moloney, Sophie Reid, Annabel Sutherland