It means that after three seasons out of the finals and after collecting last year’s wooden spoon, the Sixers now have the squad to be genuine contenders again.
Bates and Ecclestone join Healy, Ellyse Perry and Ash Gardner as the squad’s five marquee players, while the likes of Nicole Bolton, Lauren Cheatle and Erin Burns also figure.
“I’m looking forward to her forging a strong opening partnership with Alyssa Healy,” new coach Charlotte Edwards said. “She’s in the form of her life, coming off winning the Hundred [in England] where she played a pivotal role as a leader and opening bat.
“I’m looking forward to sitting back and enjoying the sight of two of the best openers in the world doing their thing.”
Bates’ signing will again allow allrounder Perry to bat down in the middle order, a role she started last summer before Indian Shafali Verma’s struggles prompted a rethink.
“It will be nice to play alongside Healy and Perry because I’m a bit sick of playing against them,” Bates said. “Healy scored a lot of runs – and a few hundreds – against the Strikers in the past, so it will be nice to be down the other end and watch those two go about their business.”