The fate of the WBBL season opener is hanging in the balance but one thing is certain: rising star Maddie Penna is emerging as one of the country's brightest talents.
The 21-year-old has signed a three-year contract extension with the Adelaide Strikers while ACT Meteors teammate Katie Mack will return to the WBBL club for another season.
Penna has made waves since linking up with the Meteors two years ago, overcoming knee surgeries and the long stints in rehabilitation that followed to burst onto the domestic cricket scene.
The gifted all-rounder posted her maiden WNCL century last summer in a breakout season which was highlighted by match-winning performances in the game's short format for Adelaide.
Now the Strikers have moved to lock the young gun in for the next three seasons and Penna is relishing the chance to test herself against the best.
"WBBL is my favourite time of year where we get the chance to test ourselves against not only the best in the country, but some of the best players in the world," Penna said.
"I'm very lucky to be a part of it. I had no hesitation signing a long-term deal with the Strikers.
"I absolutely love the environment and the people here and I know we are heading in the right direction to create sustained success as a team."
The seventh instalment of the WBBL is slated to start on October 14 in Sydney, but border restrictions and COVID-19 outbreaks have officials preparing to make changes.
The pandemic has already forced officials to alter the cricket schedule, with lockdowns across the nation tearing up plans for the WNCL, which originally had the Meteors launching their tournament in Adelaide on September 25 against Western Australia.
Plans now have them set to open their account against Victoria on December 16, after the WBBL finishes with a final on November 27, one Mack is desperate to feature in.
"I have loved every minute of my time as a Striker and am excited to be getting back together with the group as we look to achieve something really special this season," Mack said.
"The WBBL is such an exciting competition, so the opportunity to put on a show in front of our amazing fans again is something I am so grateful for."
Strikers coach Luke Williams says the return of Penna and Mack, who last season was the Strikers' second-highest run-scorer, will be a huge boost.
"Both Maddie and Katie have shown repeatedly that they are not only fantastic talents, but fantastic people, and we are thrilled to have them wearing blue again this season," Williams said.
"We have high aspirations for WBBL|07 and to retain Maddie and Katie strengthens our unit as the opening fixtures continue to grow on the horizon."
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