C365’s ‘What to Watch’ at the BBL|04

The Big Bash League has grown in popularity with both fans and overseas players in the four years since it began, and this year's edition promises some exciting clashes, with big names from around the globe adding to the appeal.

The first fixture is between the Adelaide Strikers and the Melbourne stars will kick the event off on 18 December, and the times have been adjusted so that fans around the world can also enjoy the action at a reasonable hour.

No side has won the event more than once, and the Perth Scorchers are the current champions. The Brisbane Heat and the Sydney Sixers are the other previous winners, while Aaron Finch is the highest run-getter.

Local batsman to watch

Hobart Hurricanes opener Ben Dunk was the player of the tournament last time out, scoring 395 runs at an average of nearly 44. The wicketkeeper was not part of the previous BBL, and exploded onto the scene with his strike rate of nearly 150. His efforts earned him a contract with IPL giants Mumbai, and comes into the event on the back of two double centuries for Tasmania in recent weeks.

Overseas batsman to watch

Former England batsman Kevin Pietersen (though he still has hope of a return) was the big-name signing in terms of media attention, and joins fellow Englishman Luke Wright at the Melbourne Stars. Added to Glenn Maxwell, Dave Hussey and James Faulkner, this makes for a big-hitting line-up, and Pietersen will be keen to show that his lack of cricket in recent months won't negate the money spent on signing him. He's a 'bums on seats' signing, but will need to be more than a name. (Bonus: Jesse Ryder for the Renegades. Gosh, that will be fun to watch!)

Local bowler to watch

Legendary Australia fast bowler Brett Lee will play in his final Big Bash season, and his swansong for the Sydney Sixers should continue to draw the crowds. He's still menacingly quick, as Piers Morgan and Shane Warne's broken bones will attest, and his experience will be valuable in a strong but young attack. He'll also be keen to pass the 30-wicket mark in his BBL career, and is on 22 now.

Overseas bowler to watch

West Indies spinner Samuel Badree is one of three overseas bowlers for the Brisbane Heat, joining veterans Dan Vettori and Andrew Flintoff at the 'Gabba. He is the top-ranked bowler in T20s according to the ICC, ahead of IPL star Sunil Narine and banned Pakistan spinner Saeed Ajmal. Adding him to an attack that already consists of Mitchell Johnson and Shane Watson will not calm opposition batsmen when pace gives way to spin, or vice versa.

Team to follow

The Sydney Sixers have the most eye-catching outfit, both literally and in terms of their squad. They wear bright pink that glows under lights, and have what seems like half the Australia national squad in their ranks.

Their bowling attack features Lee, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc, Doug Bollinger, and Sean Abbott, and that's just the pacers. Batting-wise, they can call on Brad Haddin, Steve Smith, Nic Maddinson and Moises Henriques.

That's not even including overseas stars like England's Michael Lumb and West Indies' Dwayne Bravo. How international cricket will affect them will be a think to keep an eye on, but on paper, this is a cracking side.

Fixture to wake up for

28 December – Melbourne Stars v Brisbane Heat. KP vs Freddie, what's not to love?


Adelaide Strikers: Johan Botha, Jonathon Dean, Travis Head, Brad Hodge, Jon Holland, Michael Neser, Craig Simmons, Ben Laughlin, Trent Lawford, Tim Ludeman, Kieron Pollard, Gary Putland, Kane Richardson, Alex Ross, Chadd Sayers, Shaun Tait, Adam Zampa *Adelaide Strikers granted an indefinite extension to contract their 18th player following the tragic passing of Phillip Hughes

Brisbane Heat: Samuel Badree, Nick Buchanan, Joe Burns, Daniel Christian, Ben Cutting, Ryan Duffield, Peter Forrest, Cameron Gannon, James  Hopes, Mitchell Johnson, Chris Lynn, Alister McDermott, Simon Milenko, James Peirson, Nathan Reardon, Mark Steketee, Dan Vettori, Shane Watson. Overseas replacement player: Andrew Flintoff

Hobart Hurricanes: George Bailey, Travis Birt, Cameron Boyce, Xavier Doherty, Ben Dunk, Evan Gulbis, Alex Hales, Ben Hilfenhaus, Joe Mennie, Dominic Michael, Tim Paine, Sam Rainbird, Jake Reed, Darren Sammy, Timm van der Gugten, Jonathan Wells. Two players still to be announced

Melbourne Renegades: Fawad Ahmed, Thomas Beaton, Dwayne Bravo, Tom Cooper, Alex Doolan, Callum Ferguson, Aaron Finch, Jayde Herrick, Peter Nevill, Aaron O'Brien, James Pattinson, Nathan Rimmington, Ben Rohrer, Andre Russell, Matthew Short, Peter Siddle, Matthew Wade, Nicholas Winter. Overseas replacement player: Jesse Ryder

Melbourne Stars: Michael Beer, Jackson Bird, Scott Boland, James Faulkner, Luke Feldman, Peter Handscomb, John Hastings, David Hussey, Alexander Keath, Glenn Maxwell, Clint McKay, Kevin Pietersen, Rob Quiney, Clive Rose, Marcus Stoinis, Cameron White, Daniel Worrall, Luke Wright

Perth Scorchers: Ashton Agar, Yasir Arafat, Jason Behrendorff, Michael Carberry, Hilton Cartwright, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Brad Hogg, Michael Klinger, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, James Muirhead, Joel Paris, Ashton Turner, Andrew Tye, Adam Voges, Sam Whiteman

Sydney Sixers: Sean Abbott, Doug Bollinger, Ryan Carters, Trent Copeland, Benjamin Dwarshuis, Brad Haddin, Josh Hazelwood, Moises Henriques, Brett Lee, Michael Lumb, Nathan Lyon, Nic Maddinson, Stephen O'Keefe, Jordan Silk, Dwayne Smith, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc. One player still to be announced.

Sydney Thunder: Ahillen Beadle, Aiden Blizzard, Patrick Cummins, Jake Doran, Christopher Green, Chris Hartley, Nathan Hauritz, Daniel Hughes, Michael Hussey, Jacques Kallis, Usman Khawaja, Josh Lalor, Andrew McDonald, Eoin Morgan, Dirk Nannes, Kurtis Patterson, Gurinder Sandhu, Christopher Tremain. Overseas replacement player: Chris Woakes