1) A pace attack that will win games
MO had all of 4 pacers at their disposal last year out of which only 1 was an experienced bowler. This year, their pace attack has seen a surge from 4 to 7 with the addition of some high-profile names.
The fact that their team was significantly weak on all forefront meant that they were bound to struggle in some phases of the game. And this came at the death with the ball! All they had was the experience of Cross & Ecclestone to bank upon. This impacted their performance which resulted in their team being the worst at the death in terms of wickets & economy.
Cross, who is primarily a new-ball & middle-overs specialist had to bowl herself at the death. This year, they might possibly have Cross operate only in her preferred phases & leave the death bowling to the likes of Deandra Dottin, Lea Tahuhu, & the spin of Ecclestone.
2) Added firepower
MO were one of the best teams in the PP last year but became one of the worst as the innings progressed. Lizelle Lee was the reason behind their performance in the PP, and she was supported well by the likes of Mignon du Preez, Sophie Ecclestone, & Emma Lamb. While Lee continues to be in the team this year, Lamb's experience of having played top-flight cricket for England should see a change in her confidence. To add to that, MO have drafted Deandra Dottin & Lea Tahuhu who can find the ropes frequently.
Dottin had arrived in England to be a part of the RHF Trophy & got a good game time at Old Trafford with the Thunder. The duo of Tahuhu-Ecclestone could be given the finishers' role and could prove to be a very impactful pair.
3) Mahika Gaur
The tall left-arm pacer from the U.A.E. was Originals' best-kept secret that I figured out a few weeks ago when she started playing for the Thunder Academy. Mahika came in & showed what she can do as she started cleaning up the batters with her fuller deliveries. LAPs are the most underrated assets of women's cricket, & addition of any LAP to any side is a massive win for me.
This is a variety you don't see often in women's cricket & there's a massive scope to exploit this option. Thunder have done that & added a much-needed variety to an attack that looked one-pronged last year.
4) Addition of LHBs
MO have gone from none to 2 LHBs in their batting squad & enabled themselves a chance to maintain an LHB-RHB combination which could prove vital against certain teams and on certain grounds where dimensions come into play. Amy Satterthwaite is a direct replacement for Harmanpreet Kaur. Both can bat & both bowl off-spin! The difference between the two being that Satterthwaite is more about finesse & Harmanpreet is more about power.
The next addition is that of Ami Campbell, a batter that has been significantly misused by domestic teams. She's a batter who is capable of churning out runs consistently, but the fact that she keeps getting pushed down the order results in a lack of opportunities to score big. At MO, I am afraid she is going to face the same fate looking at their lineup unless they decide to leave out Satterthwaite from the XI as only 3 overseas players are allowed.
1) No wrist-spin
It is criminal to not have a wrist-spinner in your squad in any white-ball format & Manchester Originals have been guilty of it! This goes down as the biggest error in the competition and surprisingly, this is exactly what they had done last year as well. Yes, the team has Ecclestone, Jones, & Lamb. But that doesn't mean you draft a squad that does not have a single wrist-spinner with the home ground being Old Trafford.
The no. of wrist-spinners that have missed out on contracts is staggering and for teams to not recognize these players is more so.
2) Cordelia Griffith's role?
A gun batter, a gun fielder. But I fear Cordelia getting benched or playing at a position that may not be favorable for her. She's been a very impressive opener & in a team with Dottin, Lee, Lamb, & Boyce, it seems almost impossible that she will play or bat in the top 4.
1) Hannah Jones' time to shine
A personal favorite of mine along with Bethan Miles in the SLAO category. Hannah Jones has always performed but gotten overshadowed in a team with two England stars who also bowl SLAO in Sophie Ecclestone & Alex Hartley. With Hartley having left the Originals, it opens up a window of hope for Jones to thrive & make a name for herself.
There's scope for quick SLAOs in white-ball cricket, and there always will be if the talent is recognized by the coaches & the individuals who are involved in the recruitment processes.
2) A team with 4 overseas with a similar fate
No one would have thought that the 4 overseas players in this side would have all had a similar fate in a short span of time. They have either retired/forced to retire/left out of contract. Neither of Lee, Satterthwaite, Dottin, or Tahuhu need to prove themselves, but they will be itching to prove others wrong!
A strong team with flaws that are as criminal as they get. They'd really hope that their finger spinners don't let them feel the void of not having a wrist-spinner. Kate Cross' captaincy was not up to the mark last year, but it might be too early to judge in a new format.