As the Sydney Thunder get ready to kick off their Big Bash season, Chris Green had some insights before their first game against the Melbourne Stars.
It is that time of year again where Australian cricket is at the forefront of fans across Australia. Only days away from the beginning of the new season, a Sydney Thunder team led by Chris Green is ready to make an impact on the competition.
Green enters the tournament as the last remaining member of the Thunder starting eleven that won the 2015/16 final against the Melbourne Stars. Although it is a completely different side, Green believes the Thunder have what it takes to win the title for a second time.
The last time they emerged victorious, their team consisted of T20 icons Mike Hussey, Jacques Kallis and Andre Russell. During the final, Green took 2-37 with the ball and scored eight runs with the bat, chasing down the target runs.
“Big Bash is personally my favourite time of the year playing in front of friends, family and particularly the Thunder nation this year,” Green said, fired up for the new season.
“Having the fans at the ground, playing in front of my family is really special, so I can’t wait for it.”
Since his debut in the final round of the fourth season of the BBL, Green has appeared in 74 matches for the Thunder. Throughout this time he has amassed 478 runs with the bat, averaging 15.93 and a strike rate of 135.80.
Primarily known for his off-spin talents, he has taken 52 wickets with his best bowling figures being 2-19. An economical bowler, he is used in every facet of the game, whether that be opening the bowling or bowling at the death.
Lured by other teams during the off-season, Green solidified his Thunder career with a long-term contract to become a one-franchise player.
“I think in cricket it’s very seldom you get an opportunity to sign for a long time. When the Thunder came to me and offered me that long-term deal, I absolutely jumped at it,” he said.
“This club was the first club that gave me an opportunity to play professional cricket on the big stage. Push my name and kickstart my career.”
After the Big Bash has been plagued with Covid in the last couple of seasons, Sydney Thunder will finally be able to play all of their games in front of their fans. This isn’t only special for the one team player, but for the younger members of the squad who are yet to experience that special feeling.
“You know the last two years with Covid, everyone’s been struggling. We haven’t been able to take selfies, (or) sign autographs. Growing up as a kid, that was some of my greatest memories,” he said.
Same Squad, New Captain
Having finished third in the 2021/22 season, the Sydney Thunder have decided to keep relatively the same squad of domestic players. 14 players will return to the lime green, as only Usman Khawaja, Chris Tremain and Jono Cook have exited the team.
Despite keeping the same squad, 23-year-old Jason Sangha has been given the leadership role of captain, in place of the leaving Khawaja. Failing to find a spot in the Thunder two seasons ago, Sangha is destined to lead them to their second Big Bash title.
A co-captain last season, Chris Green will still play a vital role in the leadership group. Green insisted he will look out for Sangha and help him with whatever he needed, including off the pitch.
“I’ll help Jace [Jason Sangha] as much as he wants. I think he’s a new captain, it’s a big challenge,” he said.
“They see him as a future captain here at New South Wales, so they obviously want to give him that opportunity to captain and I think he’s gonna have a good challenge ahead of him and he gets on really well with the group and he had a fantastic year last year.”
As the Big Bash continues to grow bigger and bigger each year, Cricket Australia decided the implement an overseas draft this season with each team given three picks to pick the brightest T20 international cricketers.
Coming off a poor finals series performance where they lost to the Adelaide Strikers the Thunder needed players that would get them an inch further. They choose David Willey and Rilee Rossouw with two of their picks whilst retaining the services of Alex Hales.
Unfortunately due to mutual agreement David Willey pulled out of the tournament less than a month ago. In his place, the Thunder have added two replacement players Usman Qadir and Fazalhaq Farooqi.
Entering his seventh BBL season, Alex Hales is coming off the good form from the T20 World Cup. Opening the batting he guided them to their second T20 World Cup trophy. Playing two memorable knocks, including 86 n.o. in the semi-final he was picked in the Team of the Tournament.
Having scored less than his BBL career average last season, Hales is hoping to bounce back. With the loss of Usman Khawaja at the top of the order, he will be relied upon heavily in the batting powerplay.
“Alex (Hales) has been dominating for the Thunder the last few years and plays a great role for us at the top of the order,” Green said.
Alongside Hales, the Thunder picked up South African top-order batter Rilee Rossouw. Just like the Englishman, Rossouw recently showcased his talents in the T20 World Cup.
First coming to attention as a 19-year-old in 2008, Rossouw made his international debut in 2014. He has played across the world in the Twenty20 format, which included stints in Bangladesh, England, India and the Caribbean
This will be his second season in the Big Bash, previously representing the Melbourne Renegades. Only playing seven matches, he made 105 runs with a top score of 59 for the team in red.
Now in different colours, the explosive batter will be hoping for a better tournament. Having played with him in Pakistan, Chris Green believes his new teammate can be the X-factor the Thunder need.
“Rilee Rossouw, we saw what he can do with the bat. Pretty much gets a hundred or a duck, so it’s a great problem to have. He’s very damaging, I’ve played with Rilee in Pakistan,” Green said.
“He’s a great guy and I think he’ll fit into our group really well.”
“For the games that we have those two guys, I think it’s really exciting for our fans and they pose a big threat to the opposition as well.”
Usman Khawaja Out, David Warner In
One of the biggest signings in the Big Bash is the return of Sydney hero David Warner. In what is considered a huge signing coup, Warner will end his nine-year absence from the T20 competition.
Remembered for his remarkable century in Sydney Thunder’s first-ever BBL game, he has scored 152 runs across three matches in the BBL. These innings included a century, half-century and a second ball duck.
Due to Warner being a mainstay on the Australian test side, his Cricket Australia contract disallowed him to play in the competition. This was due to a variety of factors, which included games occurring at the same time, or him wanting to have a break away from cricket.
Having played with Warner at the domestic level with New South Wales, Chris Green can’t wait for him to join the side. Not only does Green believe he will be a great inclusion but will be important for the younger players coming through the ranks.
Warner will replace Usman Khawaja in the openers spot as he moves back to Queensland to play for the Brisbane Heat. Khawaja is a huge loss who has averaged 34.30 runs in 59 innings scoring over 1800 total runs.
Although he has been away from the BBL limelight, Warner has played in various T20 competitions in Bangladesh, England, India, and the Caribbean. In all formats of T20 cricket, he has scored 11,080 runs with an average of 37.94.
“I think David (Warner) coming back particularly at the back end after that Sydney test is gonna be a great in for us from his experience,” Green said.
“For someone like Matty Gilkes opening the batting, it’s a great opening partnership for him. So having David come in is gonna be really good for the group.”
“I think David’s obviously got those leadership capabilities. He’s been a leader all around the world in the IPL and had success at it.”
“For him, he wants to get back and show that he can lead in the back end of his career now. He’s playing really good cricket.”
Sydney Thunder will kick off the new season of the Big Bash League against the Melbourne Stars on Tuesday at 19:15 AEDT. The match can be watched exclusively on FoxSports and Kayo.
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