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Scott Bailey

Opportunity knocks in WBBL full of chances

A big WBBL campaign should seal Ellyse Perry's spot in Australia's top order for the T20 World Cup. (Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS) (AAP)

This summer's WBBL looms as the most crucial in years as Australian selectors weigh up how to best fill the holes in their usually impenetrable top order.

The retirement of Rachael Haynes and Meg Lanning's personal leave have left up to two spots in Australia's top order free, ahead of a summer T20 World Cup.

In the last five years just eight players have batted in Australia's top six more than three times in T20s, making it one of the hardest to crack in world cricket.

But change is now likely.

Australia's selectors are well aware they will have at least one gap to fill, while Lanning's future remains no clearer with a tour of India, home series against Pakistan and T20 World Cup in February ahead.

It means a host of players will now battle for spots, with Sydney Sixers veteran Ellyse Perry and Brisbane teenager Georgia Voll among the candidates playing in Thursday night's opener.

"There's lots on the line this summer," Haynes told AAP.

"For the first time in a couple of years there has been opportunity for selections and people to put their hands up to represent Australian cricket.

"Even over the last few weekends of National League, there have been some big scores and players are going out there earning selection."

Annabel Sutherland is one of those making an impact with two centuries in the early WNCL rounds, having previously played for Australia as a bowling-allrounder.

Sophie Molineux's return to fitness could also mean one of the pair force a rethink in Australia's structure, batting either of the pair higher in the order.

Nicola Carey would fall into the same category, while teenagers Voll and Phoebe Litchfield have scored early WNCL runs alongside the hard-hitting Laura Harris.

The challenge for younger players could be avoiding the spotlight of national selection during the WBBL, after seasons of hype around their potential.

"She's a player who doesn't get too caught up in those sorts of things," Haynes said of Thunder teammate Litchfield.

"She is pretty cluey in she has got an insight into and watched the success the team has had, and what has made that team so successful out on the field."

Meanwhile Perry would shape as a likely option given her experience, the fact she is back bowling and the new power game she appears to have added with the bat.

"Pez is Pez," Sixers teammate Alyssa Healy said.

"She's one of the greatest that has played the game.

"Potentially the WBBL is going to be a great opportunity for her to go out there and show everyone just how good she is at the T20 format.

"And just for her to knock down the door and force her way back into the side.

"The ball's in her court."

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