Big Bash League Preview
The sixth edition of the Big Bash League gets underway on December 20 when the Sydney franchises the Thunder and the Sixers clash at the Sydney Showground.
For the uninitiated the Big Bash League is Australia’s domestic hit and giggle showpiece that is nipping at the heels of the Indian Premier League intent on becoming the biggest domestic Twenty20 competition in the world.
The tournament will showcase the best of Australia’s local talent alongside international stars such as Kumar Sangakkara, Brendon McCullum, Dwayne Bravo and Kevin Pietersen.
There are eight teams spread across Australia’s six states with the cities of Sydney and Melbourne playing host to two teams apiece while Perth, Brisbane, Hobart and Adelaide each have one team.
The Strikers have made the playoffs for the last two seasons but have yet to feature in a BBL final and will be keen to push hard for a first title.
Captained by former Australia Test player and native Victorian Brad Hodge the side features T20 superstar Kieron Pollard as one of its two overseas players while England allrounder Chris Jordan is the other.
Former Hobart Hurricanes batsman Ben Dunk comes into the squad to replace Alex Ross who has joined the Brisbane Heat in one of five changes to their squad.
Jon Holland remains in the squad but is unlikely to feature having picked up an injury in a first class game a few weeks back.
Key Player: Travis Head has recently established himself in Australia’s ODI side and has shown himself to be in fine form, his role will be to close out the innings or to rebuild if early wickets leave the Strikers in trouble.
SQUAD: Wes Agar, Alex Carey, Jonathon Dean, Ben Dunk, Travis Head, Brad Hodge (c), Jon Holland, Chris Jordan (OS), Ben Laughlin, Jake Lehmann, Tim Ludeman, Michael Neser, Kieron Pollard (OS), Kane Richardson, Craig Simmons, Kelvin Smith, Billy Stanlake, Jake Weatherald
The 2012/13 BBL winners have a strong Kiwi connection with former Black Caps spinner Daniel Vettori coaching the squad while master blaster Brendon McCullum will captain the side and is one of the overseas professionals.
There is no doubting the Heat’s pedigree with a number of top Twenty20 performers in their ranks including West Indies leg spinner Samuel Badree.
Ben Cutting had an impressive IPL campaign earlier this year, being part of the title winning Sunrisers Hyderabad team.
Former Strikers batsman Alex Ross headlines the Heat’s fresh faces with Sam Heazlett and South African born Marnus Labuschagne set to debut for the Brisbane outfit this edition.
Key Player: Chris Lynn is rapidly establishing himself as one of the best T20 batsman around. He turned out for the Guyana Amazon Warriors in the Caribbean Premier League earlier this year helping his team earn the runner-up spot behind Chris Gayle’s Jamaica Tawallahs for whom Lynn has previously turned out. His blistering 86 off 45 balls against the St Lucia Zouks earlier in the CPL showcased what he brings to the party.
SQUAD: Samuel Badree (OS), Joe Burns, Ben Cutting, Alex Doolan, Andrew Fekete, Luke Feldman, Jason Floros, Sam Heazlett, Marnus Labuschagne, Josh Lalor, Chris Lynn, Brendon McCullum (c, OS), James Peirson, Nathan Reardon, Alex Ross, Mark Steketee, Mitchell Swepson, Jack Wildermuth
The Hobart Hurricanes will be hurt by the loss of Australia fast bowler Joe Mennie who has moved on to the Sydney Sixers but will be hoping England and Notts Outlaws star Stuart Broad will make up for the loss.
Veteran Sri Lanka superstar Sangakkara fills the second overseas slot and the Hurricanes squad will no doubt benefit immensely from his experience.
The highly experienced wicketkeeper batsman Tim Paine will lead the Tasmanian outfit as they attempt to improve on their 2013/14 runners up spot and win their first title.
The Hurricanes opted not to retain the services of former West Indies captain Darren Sammy with Broad and Sangakarra filling the overseas players slots.
SQUAD: George Bailey, James Bazley, Cameron Boyce, Stuart Broad (OS), Dan Christian, Hamish Kingston, Ben McDermott, Dominic Michael, Simon Milenko, Tim Paine (c), Sam Rainbird, Jake Reed, Clive Rose, Kumar Sangakkara (OS), D’Arcy Short, Shaun Tait, Beau Webster, Jonathan Wells
Key Player: With his unorthodox stance George Bailey attracts a lot of attention when out in the middle and the former Aussie skipper will be expected to play a big part both with the bat and out in the field.
Former Australia spinner Brad Hogg made waves earlier this year with his decision to leave the Perth Scorchers for the Renegades who have also acquired the services of two West Indies stars.
While Chris Gayle will not be making an appearance in the sixth edition of the BBL his international teammates Dwayne Bravo and Sunil Narine will boost the Renegades efforts to improve on city rivals and BBl runners up the Stars performance last season and claim the coveted trophy when all is said and done.
The Renegades boast both recent Australia international wicketkeepers in Peter Nevill and Matthew Wade and sport a quality bowling attack with Australia pacemen James Pattinson, Peter Siddle and Chris Tremain all set to play a big part in the campaign.
Batsman Marcus Harris will feature for the Renegades for the first time since shifting states from Western Australia in April.
Key Player: Renegades skipper Aaron Finch can take the game away from the opposition in a heartbeat and is a proven match winner at international level.
SQUAD: Tom Beaton, Dwayne Bravo (OS), Tom Cooper, Xavier Doherty, Callum Ferguson, Aaron Finch (c), Marcus Harris, Brad Hogg, Sunil Narine (OS), Peter Nevill, James Pattinson, Nathan Rimmington, Matthew Short, Peter Siddle, Chris Tremain, Matthew Wade, Cameron White, Nick Winter
Last year’s beaten finalists welcome back former England skipper Kevin Pietersen and compatriot Luke Wright as their overseas players and boast perhaps the most settled squad with only one forced change from last year’s 18-man squad.
John Hastings suffered an injury that will see the Australia quick sidelined for some time he will be replaced by one-time Aussie rules footballer Jackson Coleman.
Even without Hastings the Stars have plenty of options with the ball with Oz internationals Scott Boland, Dan Worrall, Michael Beer and James Faulkner and spinner Adam Zampa all available to them.
Peter Handscomb will join the squad after the conclusion of the Test series against Pakistan.
Key Player: Who else but the mercurial Glenn Maxwell, he proved in Sri Lanka that he is one of the best T20 batsmen in the world and has a habit of pulling off spectacular catches out in the field.
SQUAD: Michael Beer, Scott Boland, James Faulkner, Sebastian Gotch, Evan Gulbis, Peter Handscomb, Sam Harper, Jackson Coleman, Ben Hilfenhaus, David Hussey (c), Glenn Maxwell, Kevin Pietersen (OS), Robert Quiney, Marcus Stoinis, Tom Triffitt, Dan Worrall, Luke Wright (OS), Adam Zampa
When you think of T20 cricket the first name that comes to mind is probably not Ian Bell but the veteran English batsman is set to star for the Scorchers in BBL|06 replacing compatriot Michael Carberry in Western Australia.
England allrounder David Willey will start the campaign for the Scorchers but will have to leave in January to turn out for England in India.
The Scorchers have added former Australia paceman Mitchell Johnson with the fearsome quick promising to be at his aggressive best.
Spinner Ashton Agar looks to be getting back to his best with a possible meeting with younger brother Wes adding some spice to the Scorchers fixture against the Strikers.
There are some exciting young talents in the Scorchers lineup with both Cameron Bancroft and Sam Whiteman tipped for higher honours in the near future.
Key Player: Mitchell Marsh hit his straps in the recent Chappell-Hadlee ODI series against New Zealand and looked a completely different player when taking on the attack, his ability to clear even the longest of boundaries seemingly at will could give the Scorchers opponents sleepless nights.
SQUAD: Ashton Agar, Cameron Bancroft, Jason Behrendorff, Ian Bell (OS), Hilton Cartwright, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Mitchell Johnson, Michael Klinger, Mitch Marsh, Shaun Marsh, James Muirhead, Joel Paris, Jhye Richardson, Ashton Turner, Andrew Tye, Adam Voges (c), Sam Whiteman, David Willey (OS)
The men in Magenta will be looking to recreate their success in the inaugural Big Bash when they line up in the sixth edition.
The Sixers are set to lose both their overseas players to the England ODI team with Jason Roy and Sam Billings already named in the squad to face India from January 15.
They will be boosted by the news that former South Africa captain Johan Botha has earned Australian citizenship and therefore does not count as an overseas player.
Mitchell Starc has been withdrawn from the Sixers squad due to international duties and will be replaced by Henry Thornton.
Key Player: He may have had his ups and down for Australia but Sixers skipper Moises Henriques has proven himself to be a match winner in the IPL and BBL alike and makes a massive contribution with both bat and ball.
SQUAD: Sean Abbott, Sam Billings (OS), Jackson Bird, Doug Bollinger, Johan Botha, Ryan Carters, Ben Dwarshuis, Brad Haddin, Josh Hazlewood, Moises Henriques (c), Daniel Hughes, Nathan Lyon, Nic Maddinson, Joe Mennie, Stephen O’Keefe, Jason Roy (OS), Jordan Silk, Henry Thornton
The defending champions have plenty of quality in their ranks despite losing Michael Hussey and Jacques Kallis from last year’s squad.
England skipper Eoin Morgan will feature in the early exchanges but like Roy, Billings and Willey will depart in the middle of January.
Jay Lenton has replaced Chris Hartley who will miss the whole of the Big bash due to injury.
In another injury blow the Thunder will have to start their campaign without regular skipper Shane Watson who injured his calf in a warm up game.
Key Player: Headline grabber Andre Russell will feature for the Thunder as their second overseas player this year and the reigning champions will be hoping he can produce some of the magic we all know he is capable of.
SQUAD: Fawad Ahmed, Aiden Blizzard, Patrick Cummins, Jake Doran, Ryan Gibson, Chris Green, Jay Lenton, Usman Khawaja, Nathan McAndrew, Alister McDermott, Clint McKay, Eoin Morgan (OS), Arjun Nair, Kurtis Patterson, Ben Rohrer, Andre Russell (OS), Gurinder Sandhu, Shane Watson (c)
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