15/04/2024

BBL|12 is right around the corner. Image: cricket.com.au

With the 12th instalment of the Big Bash League kicking off on Tuesday evening with the Sydney Thunder vs the Melbourne Stars, The Inner Sanctum takes a look at how the teams shape up.

Adelaide Strikers

BBL|11 Result: 4th, lost The Challenger

Squad: Wes Agar, Cameron Boyce, Alex Carey, Harry Conway, Colin De Grandhomme (NZ), Ryan Gibson, Travis Head (C), Adam Hose (ENG), Henry Hunt, Thomas Kelly, Rashid Khan (AFG), Chris Lynn, Ben Manenti, Harry Nielsen, Matt Short, Jake Weatherald, Henry Thornton, Peter Siddle

Ins: Boyce, de Grandhomme, Hose, Lynn, Manenti

Outs: Fawad Ahmed, Liam O’Connor, Liam Scott, Daniel Drew, George Garton (ENG), Spencer Johnson (Brisbane Heat), Matt Renshaw (Brisbane Heat), Jon Wells (Melbourne Renegades), Dan Worrall (ENG), Ian Cockbain (ENG)

Best XI: Weatherald, Short, Lynn, Head (C), Carey (WK), Hose, De Grandhomme, Khan, Agar, Conway, Siddle

Predicted XI: Weatherald, Short, Lynn, Hose, Hunt, Nielsen (WK), De Grandhomme, Khan, Agar, Conway, Siddle (C) (Unavailable for Game One: Head, Carey, Boyce)

Possible overseas replacements for Rashid Khan: Ish Sodhi, Hayden Walsh

Possible local replacements: Lloyd Pope, Daniel Drew, Nathan McSweeney, Liam Scott, Jake Lehman

Alex Carey in action for the Strikers. Image: Adelaide Strikers

The Strikers were only a Hayden Kerr masterclass away from reaching the BBL|11 final last season, as Jason Gillespie’s side will look to go one better this year. 

Veteran Peter Siddle looks set to take the captaincy in the absence of test stars Travis Head and Alex Carey, who will miss at least the Strikers’ opening eight matches. 

Adelaide are likely to have a few local replacement players join the squad ahead of their Challenger rematch against the Sydney Sixers at the Adelaide Oval, which could be filled with another spinner to cover the loss of the injured Cameron Boyce. They are likely to have at least two more replacements ahead of that game to cover the loss of Head and Carey.

The Strikers made a huge splash this offseason signing BBL superstar Chris Lynn, with the league’s most prolific run scorer ending his tenure in Queensland to sign a one year deal. 

Lynn will be a key part of the Strikers’ top order as he looks to solidify the holes left by Head and Carey. Lynn looks set to depart in early-mid January where he will participate in the UAE International League T20. 

Strikers’ fans were thrilled when their team matched the Melbourne Stars’ bid on Afghani superstar Rashid Khan at the inaugural BBL draft this season. A familiar face in Adelaide this time of year, Khan will line up alongside allrounders Colin de Grandhomme and Adam Hose. 

The Kiwi allrounder will add some much needed bowling experience to the line-up forming a strong partnership with Peter Siddle at the death, while Hose has shown his capabilities with strong form for the Northern Superchargers in 100-ball cricket this season.

Colin de Grandhomme and Adam Hose were both selected by the Strikers in the inaugural BBL draft. Image: Adelaide Strikers

Khan however is likely to have his Big Bash tenure cut short this season as he is set to exit in early January to captain MI Cape Town in the SA20 league in South Africa. 

Matt Short should start the season atop the order, a position he excelled in last season, while quick Harry Conway is another who looks set for a full tournament following a breakout campaign last season.

Summary: With Head and Carey missing for majority of the season and firepower departing in Lynn and Khan, the Strikers will struggle for consistency this season with several changes to their XI on the cards from game to game.

Weatherald has struggled so far this summer and looks to be out of form, while Hose will be tasked with holding the middle order together, as the Strikers lack genuine batting firepower down the bottom of their order with the loss of Khan.

Siddle will be supported by a more experienced bowling unit this season with the addition of de Grandhomme, while Agar and Conway have both taken massive steps in their development. 

Predicted ladder position: 7th

Rashid Khan and Peter Siddle celebrate a wicket. Image: Adelaide Strikers

Brisbane Heat

BBL|11 Result: 7th

Squad: Xavier Bartlett, James Bazley, Sam Billings (ENG), Max Bryant, Sam Hain (ENG) (Overseas Replacement Player), Sam Heazlett, Spencer Johnson, Usman Khawaja (C), Matt Kuhnemann, Marnus Labuschagne, Colin Munro (NZ), Michael Neser, Jimmy Peirson, Will Prestwidge, Matt Renshaw, Mark Steketee, Mitch Swepson, Ross Whiteley (ENG), Jack Wildermuth, Josh Brown (Local Replacement Player)

Ins: Billings, Hain, Johnson, Khawaja, Munro, Renshaw, Whiteley, Brown

Outs: Tom Abell (ENG), Tom Cooper, Ben Duckett (ENG), Chris Lynn (Adelaide Strikers), Mujeeb Ur Rahman (Melbourne Renegades), Connor Sully, Matthew Willans, Fakhar Zaman (PAK)

Best XI: Munro, Khawaja (C), Labuschagne, Billings, Renshaw, Whiteley, Peirson (WK), Wildermuth, Neser, Steketee, Swepson

Predicted XI: Munro, Bryant, Heazlett, Billings, Renshaw, Whiteley, Peirson (WK/C), Wildermuth, Bartlett, Steketee, Swepson (Unavailable for Game One: Khawaja, Labuschagne, Neser)

Possible overseas replacements for Billings: Joe Denly, Ian Cockbain, Ross Taylor

Possible local replacements: Jack Clayton, Bryce Street, Connor Sully, Matthew Willans, Jake Lehmann

Jimmy Peirson (Image: Cricket Australia)

Heat fans have seen a lot of change this offseason, with a new captain and an entirely new roster of international recruits set to lead the side in teal this summer. 

Wade Seccombe will take the reigns for his second season as head coach, looking to improve upon a 7th place finish in last year’s campaign. 

Queensland skipper Usman Khawaja won’t have to travel too far this season, after joining his local side on a four year deal, being unveiled as the Heat’s new captain. Khawaja will play a vital role at the top of the order alongside fellow test star Marnus Labuschagne, as well as international recruits Sam Billings and Colin Munro in a formidable top four.

The Heat have also signed opening batsman Josh Brown as a local replacement player this season, impressing the coaching staff after starring for Norths in this year’s T20 Max tournament. He is likely to be joined by another local replacement player for a bulk of the tournament to cover the loss of Khawaja and Labuschagne while they are on national duties. 

Jimmy Peirson looks set to continue to serve as the club’s captain and wicket-keeper in Khawaja’s absence, playing a vital role at the backend of an innings. The Heat’s middle order has received criticism for their middle order collapses for a number of years, as a reunion with Queensland opener Matthew Renshaw will provide Peirson with some much needed assistance and accountability. 

Young spinner Matt Kuhnemann will look to take a another step this summer after making his One Day International debut for Australia earlier this year in Sri Lanka. While he will miss the start of the Heat’s campaign due to his selection in the Cricket Australia XI tour match against South Africa, he will push his case for selection this season as the Heat may consider a dual spin combination of Kuhnemann and Mitchell Swepson following the departure of Mujeeb Ur Rahman to the Melbourne Renegades. 

The Heat made headlines last season, announcing their decision not to offer Chris Lynn a contract only weeks after the season’s end, despite being the franchise’s all time run scorer. A former captain of the side, Lynn brought up his 3000th BBL run last season, ending the season as the league’s most prolific run scorer. Lynn will line up in a short stint with the Adelaide Strikers before plying his trade in the UAE International League T20.

The Heat made a strong selection with their first pick in the inaugural BBL draft, adding Sam Billings to bolster their middle order. Billings has played a key part in previous Big Bash campaigns with the Sydney Thunder, whilst also being a key contributor to England’s national side across multiple formats. 

BBL11 championship player Colin Munro will add to an experienced top order for the Heat after playing a key role for the Scorchers last season. He will be joined by Englishman Ross Whiteley, selected as a bronze pick for the Heat. A powerful batsman, Whiteley represented the Southern Brave in The 100 this year after playing four seasons of premier cricket in Adelaide.

Englishman Adam Hain will also train with the squad, replacing Sam Billings later in the tournament. Born in Hong Kong, Hain has played cricket on the Gold Coast, and more recently in The Hundred for the Welsh Fire. 

Summary: Although Khawaja and Labuschagne will miss a large part of the tournament, the Heat have invested in solidifying their middle order after being exposed in previous years. The Heat’s bowling stocks look strong on paper, however the availability of Neser, Swepson and Steketee remains unknown as Australia begins a test series against South Africa. The Heat have strong depth in their squad which will be tested this summer, with players like Bryant, Heazlett, Kuhnemann and Bartlett likely to play major roles in the tournament despite not being in the team’s strongest XI. If the right players fire at the right times, the Heat could be a genuine threat this season. 

Predicted ladder position: 6th

Marnus Labuschagne in action for the Heat. Image: cricket.com.au

Hobart Hurricanes

BBL|11 Result: 5th, lost The Eliminator

Squad: Asif Ali (PAK), Faheem Ashraf (PAK), Iain Carlisle, Zac Crawley (ENG) (Overseas Replacement Player), Tim David, Paddy Dooley, Nathan Ellis, Caleb Jewell, Shadab Khan (PAK), Ben McDermott, Riley Meredith, Jimmy Neesham (NZ) (Overseas Replacement Player), Mitch Owen, Joel Paris, Wil Parker, D’Arcy Short, Billy Stanlake, Chris Tremain, Matthew Wade, Mac Wright

Ins: Ali, Ashraf, Carlisle, Crawley, Dooley, Khan, Neesham, Stanlake, Tremain

Outs: Scott Boland, Harry Brook (ENG), Peter Handscomb (Melbourne Renegades), Josh Kann, Sandeep Lamichhane (NEP), Tom Rogers (Melbourne Renegades), Jordan Thompson (ENG)

Best XI: Short, McDermott, Wade (C) (WK), Jewell, Ali, David, Neesham, Khan, Ellis, Stanlake, Meredith

Predicted XI: Short, McDermott, Wade (C) (WK), Jewell, Ali, David, Neesham, Khan, Ellis, Tremain, Meredith (Unavailable for Game One: Ashraf, Crawley, Stanlake)

Possible local replacements: Tim Paine, Tim Ward, Jake Doran, Nivethan Radhakrishnan, Tom Andrews, Sam Rainbird

BBL11 Player of the tournament Ben McDermott in action for the Hurricanes. Image: Hobart Hurricanes

The Hurricanes made the first big move of the offseason, but it wasn’t on field. Ricky Ponting returned to the ‘Purple Army’ on a three year contract as Head of Strategy, focusing on list management and the coaching staff. The Tasmanian-native has had an instant impact on his former side, appointing Tasmanian coach Jeff Vaughan as senior coach of the club for the next three seasons.

Along with Vaughan, Ponting has recruited former Victorian batsman Darren Berry and Queensland captain James Hopes to bolster the Hurricanes’ coaching stocks.

Ponting struck yet again at the inaugural BBL draft after opting to fill all three of the team’s international slots with Pakistanis. Former Sixer Shadab Khan joined the club as a platinum pick, while Asif Ali and Faheem Ashraf were selected in the succeeding rounds. 

Ali looks set to hold down an important role in the middle order of arguably the league’s strongest batting lineup, comprising of Ben McDermott, D’Arcy Short and Matthew Wade. Along with Australian World Cup batsman Tim David, Ali will be tasked with holding down the middle overs of an innings, a role he is set to be available for during the entirety of the tournament.

Spinner Shadab Khan is considered by most as one of the world’s best T20 allrounders, putting his skills on display at last month’s T20 World Cup in Australia. Starring with both bat and ball, Khan led Pakistan to victory with a match winning 52 off 22 with the bat, and figures of 2/16 against South Africa. 

Faheem Ashraf will slot in nicely providing Matthew Wade with another pace option and hard hitting finisher in the lower order. Representing Pakistan in all three formats, Ashraf was unable to play for the Melbourne Renegades in BBL|09, following strong form in the Pakistan Super League where he was the highest wicket taker in the previous two seasons.

The Hurricanes have brought in Kiwi Jimmy Neesham on the eve of the tournament, in what is a massive boost for the franchise. Neesham looks set to begin the tournament in the absence of Faheem Ashraf, who is likely to join the squad after Christmas, following international commitments. 

Neesham provides another quality bowling option while his power combined with Tim David at the backend of an innings will be a nightmare for opposition bowlers.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – OCTOBER 22: Jimmy Neesham of New Zealand bats during the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup match between Australia and New Zealand at Sydney Cricket Ground on October 22, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe-ICC/ICC via Getty Images,)

After receiving praise from ‘Punter’ during the last Ashes tour of Australian, English opener Zak Crawley will also link up with the Hurricanes following the departure of Shadab Khan. Crawley has been in strong form for the England test side, blasting his country’s fastest ever century by an opener off just 86 balls against Pakistan on Thursday. 

Summary: With the Hurricanes having strong availability to start the tournament, the ‘Cane Train’ will be one of the toughest teams to beat this season. The firepower of Short, McDermott and Wade at the top of the order is further supported by the additions of Ali, Neesham and Khan, who alongside David, provide an enormous amount of batting depth. New recruits Chris Tremain and Billy Stanlake will miss at least the opening match, with Tremain representing the Cricket Australia XI against South Africa, while Stanlake deals with an injury complaint that has seen him sidelined throughout the Sheffield Shield season. A lot will fall to the shoulders of Nathan Ellis with the ball once again this season, while the ‘Canes will be hoping that Riley Meredith can maintain his fitness throughout the tournament. With a powerful batting lineup and a variety of international players, expect the Hurricanes to be tough to beat under the guidance of Ponting. 

Predicted ladder position: 4th

D’Arcy Short runs out to bat for the Hobart Hurricanes. Image: cricket.com.au

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Melbourne Renegades

BBL|11 Result: 8th

Squad: Zak Evans, Aaron Finch, Jake Fraser-McGurk, Martin Guptill (NZ) (Overseas Replacement Player), Peter Handscomb, Sam Harper, Marcus Harris, Mackenzie Harvey, Akeal Hosein (WI), Ruwantha Kellapotha (SL) (Overseas Replacement Player), Liam Livingstone (ENG) (Withdrew from tournament), Nic Maddinson (C), Shaun Marsh, David Moody (Local Replacement Player), Jack Prestwidge, Kane Richardson, Corey Rocchiccioli, Tom Rogers, Andre Russell (WI) (Overseas Replacement Player), Will Sutherland, Mujeeb Ur Rahman (AFG), Jon Wells

Ins: Guptill, Handscomb, Hosein, Kellapotha, Moody, Rocchiccioli, Rogers, Russell, Ur Rahman, Wells

Outs: Cameron Boyce (Adelaide Strikers), Unmukt Chand (IND), Zahir Khan (AFG), Josh Lalor, Mohammad Nabi (AFG), James Pattinson, Mitch Perry, Reece Topley (ENG), Jon Merlo, James Seymour

Best XI: Finch, Guptill, Marsh, Maddinson (C), Handscomb (WK), Wells, Sutherland, Rogers, Richardson, Hosein, Ur Rahman

Prediected XI: Finch, Marsh, Maddinson (C), Handscomb (WK), Wells, Russell, Sutherland, Rogers, Richardson, Hosein, Ur Rahman (Unavailable for Game One: Evans, Guptill, Harris)

Possible local replacements: Ash Chandrasinghe, Jon Merlo, James Seymour, Fergus O’Neill, Mitch Perry

Aaron Finch will be available for the entire tournament this year. Image: Melbourne Renegades

Following three consecutive wooden spoons, the Melbourne Renegades have bolstered their roster this season in the hopes of returning to the BBL’s biggest stage. A team that has been reliant on youth across the past few seasons, the ‘Gades have invested in older and more experienced campaigners in the hopes of finding the right balance between youth and wisdom.

Proven veterans Jon Wells, Martin Guptill and Andre Russell headline the list of additions made over the course of the offseason, following a disappointing draft result despite holding the number one pick.

The Renegades had the first ever selection at this year’s BBL player draft. Image: Melbourne Renegades

In a huge blow for the team, Liam Livingstone, the BBL’s first ever player selected in the overseas player draft, withdrew from the tournament following his surprise inclusion in England’s national test squad, making his debut last week against Pakistan.

Instead, the Renegades will turn to veteran superstars Guptill and Russell who will share the load left by Livingstone. Russell will begin the tournament and will be available for the first four matches of the season, before being replaced by Guptill who looks set to form a menacing combination at the top of the order alongside Aaron Finch. With Australia and New Zealand’s all time T20 leading run scorers paired up for the ‘Gades, fans can expect to see some much better performances this season.

The Renegades have a deep squad in the batting department with players such as Aaron Finch, Nic Maddinson, Shaun Marsh and Peter Handscomb expected to be available for the entire tournament, while youngsters Mackenzie Harvey, Jake Fraser-McGurk and Sam Harper will push for opportunities in what looks a more balanced side.

Last year’s breakout player of the season, Tom Rogers joined Jon Wells in signing with the Renegades ahead of BBL|12, signalling the team’s intention to add experience and firepower. Wells, a longtime middle order batsman for the Adelaide Strikers, has proven to be one of the BBL’s best ever players, guiding the Strikers to victory on several occasions across his tenure in blue. He looks likely to slot into the middle order and steady the ship towards the backend of an innings.

Rogers enjoyed a tremendous BBL|11 campaign, finishing in the top five wicket-takers for the tournament. Rogers will join white-ball star Kane Richardson, who represented Australia at this year’s T20 World Cup. The two will be joined by spin duo Akeal Hosein and Mujeeb Ur Rahman, rounding out an exciting bowling attack. Hailing from the West Indies, Hosein enters BBL|12 with a wealth of excitement surrounding him, while Mujeeb featured for Afghanistan at the World Cup and has previously represented the Brisbane Heat.

Two of the country’s most in form players, Peter Handscomb and Will Sutherland also look set to play key roles this summer following a few years of ups and downs. Handscomb joined the Renegades on the eve of the tournament in huge boost for the team, and will look to continue to pile on to his mountain of runs this summer in the hopes of a national recall. Sutherland has enjoyed a breakout campaign for Victoria in the Sheffield Shield and will look to make a key all round contribution in red.

Summary: Following a tough few years, the Renegades have invested in balancing their starting XI, adding middle order depth, quality spinners and veteran presence in the hopes of producing success. Superstar internationals Andre Russell and Martin Guptill will have defining roles in their limited appearances, however the availability of Finch, Maddinson, Handcomb, Richardson and Marsh should set the ‘Gades up for a strong year. Rogers will be a welcome addition to the bowling stocks, as will Ur Rahman and Hosein who should find success playing at Marvel Stadium. Will Sutherland’s emergence is another asset for the Renegades this season, while the presence of Jon Wells in the middle order may just prove to be the most underrated move of the offseason.

Predicted ladder position: 5th

Aaron Finch and Shaun Marsh in action last season. Image: cricket.com.au

Melbourne Stars

BBL|11 Result: 6th

Squad: Trent Boult (NZ), Joe Burns, Hilton Cartwright, Joe Clarke (ENG), Brody Couch, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Sam Elliot, Liam Hatcher, Clint Hinchliffe, Campbell Kellaway, Nick Larkin, Glenn Maxwell, Cam McClure, Tom O’Connell, Tom Rogers (Local Replacement Player), Marcus Stoinis, Beau Webster, Luke Wood (ENG), Adam Zampa

Ins: Boult, Kellaway, McClure, Wood

Outs: Seb Gotch, Peter Nevill, Sam Rainbird, Qais Ahmad (AFG), Andre Russell (Melbourne Renegades), Billy Stanlake (Hobart Hurricanes), Syed Faridoun (PAK), Ahmed Daniyal (PAK), Haris Rauf (PAK)

Best XI: Clarke (WK), Burns, Maxwell (C), Stoinis, Cartwright, Webster, Coulter-Nile, Wood, Zampa, Couch, Boult

Predicted XI: Clarke (WK), Burns, Larkin, Stoinis, Cartwright, Webster, Coulter-Nile, Wood, Zampa (C), Couch, Boult (Unavailable for Game One: Maxwell, Kellaway, Hatcher)

Possible overseas replacements for Trent Boult: Mark Wood, Mustafizur Rahman, Ish Sodhi, Hayden Walsh

Possible local replacements: Ash Chandrasinghe, Jon Merlo, James Seymour, Fergus O’Neill, Mitch Perry, Xavier Crone

Adam Zampa will captain the Stars this season. Image: Melbourne Stars

Following a COVID-19 hit season, Stars fans would have been thinking this year was finally the year their team would lift the trophy. Well they might have to keep waiting as what the Stars endured last season was topped by a possible tournament ending injury to superstar Glenn Maxwell.

‘The Big Show’ put his full might on display last season belting two centuries, including a magnificent 154 not out against the Hurricanes in the team’s final match. Maxwell was just one of more than 10 players who missed multiple games due to positive COVID tests, as the Stars were forced to continue playing against full strength teams, relying on players from Victorian Premier Cricket clubs to go up against a world class Perth Scorchers outfit.

Replacement player Tom Rogers debuts for the Stars. Image: cricket.com.au

One player who did make the most of his opportunity as a replacement player was Tom Rogers, a left handed batsman from Ringwood. Rogers opened the batting against the Scorchers in his BBL debut before he too was struck down with COVID, ruling him out for the rest of the campaign. Rogers has been added to the Stars’ roster once again this season with even bigger shoes to fill in the absence of Maxwell.

World Cup stars Marcus Stoinis and Adam Zampa will again have to step up this season, leading the team for majority of the tournament, with Maxwell still optimistic he can make an impact on the field before the tournament’s end. After receiving player of the tournament honours and winning a World Cup with Australia, Stoinis looks set to return to the middle order, however it is is bowling that may prove a key difference this year, giving the Stars another attacking option in the field. Stoinis has rarely bowled in the Big Bash over the last few seasons due to various injuries, however the overs assigned to Maxwell may fall to him this summer.

Adam Zampa will take over the captaincy reigns as the country’s best white ball spinner looks to set himself up for a good run of form in the hopes of receiving a test call up for Australia’s tour of India. Zampa will call on two new left arm quicks this season after the Stars selected New Zealand champion Trent Boult and English paceman Luke Wood in the draft. Boult has been a longtime performer for the Kiwis, once again dominating at this year’s T20 World Cup, while Wood is not as well known, however made his ODI debut against Australia last month.

Joe Clarke scores 50 at the MCG. Image: cricket.com.au

The Stars have also retained their player of the tournament from last year, opening batsman Joe Clarke, who is making a name for himself around the world, being selected with the first overall pick in The Hundred. Clarke will once again wicket keep this season, with the Stars opting to only carry the one keeper in their squad.

There is some mystery that still remains over the Stars’ final international spot, with Boult departing the team after six matches. Another quick or all-rounder seem the most obvious fits to replace the Kiwi with ex-Melbourne Star and Australian test quick Scott Boland also being of interest to the team, however signing an overseas spinner to pair with Adam Zampa could also be on the cards.

Summary: Maxwell’s injury is almost irreplaceable, as players such as Joe Burns, Nick Larkin and Beau Webster will be tasked with stepping up after below average performances last season. Stoinis’ return to bowling will be a huge boost alongside International recruits Boult and Wood, while the emergence of youngster Brody Couch last season will leave the fast bowling stocks set. Stars fans will be relying on Joe Clarke and Hilton Cartwright to carry over their form from last season, with the pair each enjoying stellar campaigns, while Zampa will be tested with his first real taste of captaincy in David Hussey’s final year as head coach.

Predicted ladder position: 3rd

The Melbourne Stars celebrate a wicket. Image: Cricket Australia

Perth Scorchers

BBL|11 Result: 1st, Champions

Squad: Ashton Agar, Cameron Bancroft, Jason Behrendorff, Cooper Connolly, Faf Du Plessis (SA) (Overseas Replacement Player), Stephen Eskinazi (SA) (Overseas Replacement Player), Laurie Evans (ENG) (Withdrewn from tournament), Cameron Green, Aaron Hardie, Peter Hatzoglu, Nick Hobson, Josh Inglis, Matt Kelly, Adam Lyth (ENG) (Overseas Replacement Player), Mitch Marsh, Hamish McKenzie, Tymal Mills (ENG), Lance Morris, Jhye Richardson, Phil Salt (ENG) (Withdrew from tournament), Ashton Turner, Andrew Tye

Ins: Du Plessis, Eskinazi, Lyth, McKenzie, Salt

Outs: David Moody (Melbourne Renegades), Colin Munro (Brisbane Heat), Kurtis Patterson (Sydney Sixers)

Best XI: Lyth, Inglis (WK), Du Plessis, Turner (C), Green, Hardie, Agar, Richardson, Kelly, Behrendorff, Mills

Predicted XI: Lyth, Inglis (WK), Du Plessis, Turner (C), Bancroft, Hardie, Agar, Kelly, Tye, Behrendorff, Mills (Unavailable for Game One: Green, Morris, Marsh, Salt, Richardson)

Possible local replacements: Teague Wyllie, Cameron Gannon, Liam Guthrie

The Scorchers celebrate a wicket. Image: Perth Scorchers

The Scorchers are the BBL most successful, most impressive and most powerful franchise, and for good reason. The Adam Voges legacy produced a championship last season following the handover period from Justin Langer as the Western Australian way has continued to breed success over the history of the tournament.

Following the title, the Scorchers had a pretty quiet offseason, however a nightmare couple of days last week left with without any of Mitch Marsh, Laurie Evans or Phil Salt for the entirety of the tournament. In addition to Cameron Green’s absence through his test duties and a shock national call up for Lance Morris, the Scorchers have had a busy period in the last fortnight as they attempt to reshuffle their roster prior to the tournament.

Faf Du Plessis raises his bat after a test century. Image: ICC

South African legend Faf Du Plessis has signed with the club following a draft night snub and looks set to play a pivotal role in the top order alongside Josh Inglis and Ashton Turner. Fellow South African and West Australian resident Stephen Eskinazi has also signed on with the Scorchers to fill the void left by Laurie Evans, following his immediate suspension from cricket.

Englishman Tymal Mills will return to Perth this summer after playing a strong role in clinching the team’s fourth title, joining an elite bowling group including the likes of Ashton Agar, Jason Behrendorff, Peter Hatzoglou, Matt Kelly, Lance Morris, Jhye Richardson and Andrew Tye.

Fellow Englishman and former test batsman Adam Lyth will also join the Scorchers this season and will line up at the top of the order, filling the void left by Kiwi Colin Munro who was selected by the Brisbane Heat.

Cameron Green Australia Test
Cameron Green (Photo: Cricket Australia)

Perhaps the tournament’s biggest wildcard this season is youngster Cameron Green, who will give the Scorchers a massive boost following the test series against South Africa. After opening the batting for Australia in the lead up to this year’s World Cup, Green could be deployed in various roles for the Scorchers, with his versatility with both bat and ball making him one of the tournament’s biggest threats.

Summary: Losing Marsh, Evans and Salt so close to the tournament is not ideal, but if there is one team in the BBL that can overcome challenges and fill the voids left by those stars, it is the Scorchers. The Scorchers have easily the best bowling group in the BBL, while the role of the allrounders will be more important than ever. Cameron Green, Ashton Agar and Aaron Hardie all have the ability to bat anywhere in the order with Green and Agar both opening the batting at international level this season, while the presence of South African superstar Faf Du Plessis will provide a calm and experienced head at the crease. The Scorchers have a strong case to push for back to back titles.

Predicted ladder position: 2nd

The Perth Scorchers celebrating the BBL11 title. Image: Cricket Australia

Sydney Sixers

BBL|11 Result: 2nd, lost The Final

Squad: Sean Abbott, Jackson Bird, Dan Christian, Ben Dwarshuis, Jack Edwards, Mickey Edwards, Moises Henriques, Daniel Hughes, Chris Jordan (ENG), Hayden Kerr, Nathan Lyon, Todd Murphy, Izharulhaq Naveed (AFG), Steve O’Keefe, Kurtis Patterson, Josh Philippe, Jordan Silk, Steve Smith (Local Replacement Player), James Vince (ENG)

Ins: Naveed, Patterson

Outs: Ben Manenti (Adelaide Strikers), Lloyd Pope, Shadab Khan (Hobart Hurricanes)

Best XI: Hughes, Philippe (WK), Vince, Smith, Henriques (C), Christian, Abbott, Jordan, Dwarshuis, Lyon, Naveed

Predicted XI: Hughes, Philippe (WK), Vince, Henriques (C), Patterson, Christian, Kerr, Abbott, Jordan, Dwarshuis, Naveed (Unavailable for Game One: Smith, Lyon)

Possible local replacements: Arjun Nair, Lachlan Hearne, Ryan Hadley, Ryan Hackney

The Sixers will be looking to come back strong this year following an embarrassing loss in last year’s final. One of the league’s most successful teams to date, the Sixers have assembled into one of the most consistent and reliable franchises in the world, spending wisely and recruiting overseas role players to compliment their local players.

In a massive coup for the franchise, Aussie star Steve Smith announced his intention to participate in the Big Bash this summer, following Australia’s test series against South Africa. Smith will join Nathan Lyon in slotting into an already dangerous lineup, led by skipper Moises Henriques.

The Sixers have stuck to their guns this year, with the majority of their squad returning for BBL|12. They went with familiar faces in the inaugural overseas player draft with T20 World Cup champion Chris Jordan returning alongside fellow English batter James Vince, who was formed a strong partnership with Josh Philippe over the last few seasons.

The Sixers have a good blend of youth and experience with calm heads in Dan Christian, Daniel Hughes, Steve O’Keefe and Moises Henriques leading the charge, while Hayden Kerr was the standout for the Sixers last year, taking massive strides in both his batting and bowling, blasting 98 to send the Sixers into the final.

Blues captain Kurtis Patterson has returned to New South Wales following a stint with last year’s champion Perth Scorchers, and although has versatility in his batting, is likely to compete with Kerr and Jordan Silk for a steady middle order role.

The Sixers have invested in spin this season, selecting Afghani Izharulhaq Naveed, while young Victorian Todd Murphy is also back with the Sixers this season.

Summary: The Sixers will be one of the hardest teams to beat this season, with consistency and familiarity playing a big role. This season may be the last for the likes of Christian and O’Keefe, with the influx of youth through spin twins set to cause a few selection headaches. The signature of Steve Smith will be a massive boost in the backend of the tournament, while Vince and Jordan will look to continue on their form from last season. Young Hayden Kerr looks to be a wild card as to where he is deployed this season following the signature of Kurtis Patterson and mainstay Jordan Silk making up the middle order.

Predicted ladder position: 1st

Hayden Kerr had a night to remember with the bat, guiding the Sydney Sixers to a third consecutive Big Bash decider. (Photo: Sydney Sixers/Twitter)

Sydney Thunder

BBL|11 Result: 3rd, lost The Qualifier

Squad: Ben Cutting, Ollie Davies, Brendan Doggett, Fazalhaq Farooqi (AFG), Matthew Gilkes, Toby Gray (Local Replacement Player), Chris Green, Alex Hales (ENG), Baxter Holt, Nathan McAndrew, Blake Nikitaras, Usman Qadir (PAK) (Overseas Replacement Player), Alex Ross, Rilee Rossouw (SA), Daniel Sams, Gurinder Sandhu, Jason Sangha, Tanveer Sangha, David Warner, Sam Whiteman, David Willey (ENG) (Withdrew from tournament)

Ins: Farooqi, Nikitaras, Qadir, Rossouw, Warner, Gray

Outs: Sam Billings (Brisbane Heat), Usman Khawaja (Brisbane Heat), Jono Cook, Saqib Mahmood (ENG), Chris Tremain (Hobart Hurricanes), Mohammad Hasnain (PAK)

Best XI: Warner, Hales, Sangha (C), Rossouw, Ross, Cutting, Gilkes (WK), Sams, Green, Sangha, Farooqi

Predicted XI: Gilkes (WK), Hales, Sangha (C), Rossouw, Davies, Ross, Cutting, Sams, Green, McAndrew, Farooqi (Unavailable for Game One: Warner, Sangha, Qadir)

Possible local replacements: Arjun Nair, Lachlan Hearne, Ryan Hadley, Ryan Hackney

Thunder skipper Jason Sangha in action. Image: Sydney Thunder

The third placed Thunder will be looking to push further into finals this year following a solid campaign last summer. Investing heavily on international stars, the Thunder’s overseas recruits were dominant during this year’s T20 World Cup in Australia, with world champion Alex Hales (England) and centurion Rilee Rossouw (South Africa) both dominating for their respective countries.

The Thunder mutually agreed to part ways with Usman Khawaja who returned to Queensland to join the Brisbane Heat, however they landed a massive signature in David Warner who will take his place alongside Hales, forming perhaps the most devastating opening duo in the league. A lot will fall to Jason Sangha once again this year, who after enjoying a breakout tournament, will officially captain the club full time. Another Sangha on the rise, Tanveer, will unfortunately miss most of the tournament with an injury however, forcing a heavy blow on the Thunder.

The Thunder’s first pick at the overseas player draft, Englishman David Willey, withdrew from the tournament after a ‘mutual agreement’ with the team, leaving Pakistani spinner Usman Qadir and Afghani paceman Fazalraq Farooqi to take his place on the roster.

Farooqi represented Afghanistan at the T20 World Cup in Australia last month and will look to combine his left arm pace with that of Daniel Sams. Gurinder Sandhu should also receive some opportunity this season, while mainstays Chris Green and Nathan McAndrew will round out the attack.

Fazalhaq Farooqi in action for Afghanistan at the T20 World Cup. Image: Sydney Thunder

Summary: The Thunder will be reliant on their in form overseas players with Hales and Rossouw set to carry a lot of the weight this season prior to Warner’s return from the national side. Daniel Sams will be called upon to play a big role with both bat and ball, while Usman Qadir and Chris Green have bigger roles to play following the loss of Tanveer Sangha, who is still optimistic he will feature at some point in what would be a huge boost. Alex Ross should continue through the middle order, with Oliver Davies primed for a breakout season, as Sam Whiteman and Matthew Gilkes are others that can bat anywhere in the lineup. The pressure will be right on Jason Sangha to lead his team this summer, with a somewhat undermanned squad set to begin the tournament against the Melbourne Stars.

Predicted ladder position: 8th

The Thunder will look to push further into finals this season. Image: Cricket Australia

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