28/02/2024
Image: Haley Jackson/Flickr

Image: Haley Jackson/Flickr

The KFC Big Bash League is back for another bumper season and it is set to be one of the most even competitions in history. The team at The Inner Sanctum take a look at each of the teams and how they are shaping up on the eve of the new season.

The KFC Big Bash League is back for another bumper season and it is set to be one of the most even competitions in history.  The team at The Inner Sanctum take a look at each of the teams and how they are shaping up on the eve of the new season.

Adelaide Strikers

Squad:

Travis Head (c), Wes Agar, Danny Briggs (England), Alex Carey, Harry Conway, Spencer Johnson, Rashid Khan (Afghanistan), Michael Neser, Harry Nielsen, Liam O’Connor, Matt Renshaw, Phil Salt (England), Liam Scott, Matt Short, Peter Siddle, Cameron Valente, Jake Weatherald, Jon Wells, Daniel Worrall

Big Inclusion

Matthew Renshaw: The former dour test opener, Matthew Renshaw has reinvented his game in recent years with a change in mindset and expansion in shot selection resulting in the 24 year old turning into a promising T20 batsman. Playing a crucial role in the middle order for the Heat last year, Renshaw’s temperament and ability to build an innings saw him hit 348 runs at an average of 29. He also showed the capacity to contribute with the ball in hand, taking four wickets and getting through vital early innings overs. Renshaw will be a great addition for the Strikers this season, providing more middle order support for the likes of Jono Wells, Travis Head and Alex Carey. 

Who’s Missing?

The Strikers did a relatively good job over the offseason of keeping their core group of players together, with Billy Stanlake’s departure to the Stars the only real dent to the squad. The team will of course miss their captain Travis Head for the first half of the tournament, whilst wicket-keeper and star batsman Alex Carey will be missing for the team’s opening match. The Strikers will also be sweating on the availability of leg spinning sensation Rashid Khan at the back end of the tournament, with Afghanistan scheduled for a tour of the UAE in late January. However, Strikers fans should be buoyed by the continuity of this squad and what they should be able to produce on the field. 

Key Players

Alex Carey: Having recently lost the international wicket keeping duties to Matthew Wade, Alex Carey will be itching to prove himself throughout this tournament and reclaim his position behind the stumps in green and gold. Arguably the most elegant batsman going around, Carey makes batting look easy at times with his expert stroke play and ability to manipulate the field, making him the perfect number three at Big Bash level. This is backed up by his record for the Strikers over the past three seasons, having made a staggering 1163 runs at an average of 36.35. Carey is also excellent behind the stumps and will take advantage of the opportunities created by his impressive bowling attack. 

Jonothan Wells: Arguably the most underrated Australian cricketer of the past decade, Jonothan Wells returns to the city of churches following a career best season in BBL09. The perfect middle order batsman in this form of the game, Wells’ temperament, game awareness and technique sees him able to adapt to any match situation and put his side in a position to succeed. Claiming the Strikers MVP award last season, having hit 478 runs at an absurd average of 68.29, it is clear that Wells is among the most important players in this team and is critical to their success. He is also an extremely gifted fielder with his work on the deep square boundaries saving numerous runs for the Strikers. 

Wildcard Player

Jake Weatherald: At his best Jake Weatherald is one of the most damaging opening batsmen in the Big Bash, with his incredible hundred in the BBL07 final an excellent example of what the young man can do. However, since then it has been a rather up and down period for the 26 year old, who despite hitting the occasional half century has found it difficult to maintain consistency. An extremely important player in this Adelaide Strikers lineup, Weatherald has the ability to get the team off to a fast start and take pressure off the middle order to produce a large score. Having recently taken time away from the game for personal reasons, Weatherald is now back with the Strikers squad and poised for a big tournament. 

Key International Players

Rashid Khan: The number one T20 bowler in the world, Rashid Khan is the most valuable player to any side in this year’s Big Bash and the Strikers will be absolutely wrapped to have him locked away. Over his first three seasons, Rashid has taken 56 wickets at a strike rate of 16.6 and economy of 6.37, further proving just how valuable he is to this Adelaide team. Blessed with an ability to deceive batsmen with speed, flight and spin, Rashid is the total package when it comes to spin bowlers and has the wood over a number of key players around the tournament. You know you are going to get four overs of economical and wicket taking bowling from Rashid, which will always give the Strikers a hope of winning from any position. 

Danny Briggs: Partnering Rashid Khan in the spin bowling department this summer, Danny Briggs comes to the Big Bash for the first time following a distinguished white ball career in the UK. An extremely experienced T20 bowler, Briggs will manage to put pressure on opposition batsmen from the outset, with his ability to manage his pace and lengths vital to success in this format. The all time leading wicket taker in the UK’s T20 blast, Briggs will complement this Strikers bowling attack nicely and take the pressure of Rashid throughout the middle overs. The Englishman is without a doubt one to watch out for this summer and will be vital to the Strikers success. 

Rookies to Watch

Liam Scott: One of the more experienced teams in the tournament, there aren’t a lot of young players on the Strikers roster. However, one that should excite Adelaide fans should he be given the opportunity is young all-rounder Liam Scott, who will be looking to continue his development in domestic cricket following his recent Shield debut. A hard hitting lower order batsmen, Scott has the ability to come in and get the scoreboard ticking instantly and will be a handy inclusion at number seven should be given the opportunity. He is also extremely promising with the ball in hand, with his seamers causing problems for class batsmen in the early part of the shield season. At just 18 years of age, he is an extremely promising prospect and one Strikers fans should get excited about going forward. 

Squad Strengths

Spin bowling and batting depth: After coming third in BBL09, there are a number of key strengths within this Strikers squad they will be looking to exploit throughout this year’s edition of the tournament. The number one asset of this team is without a doubt it’s spin bowling, with Rashid Khan torturing opposition batsmen with his supreme speed and skill. The Strikers have further bolstered this part of their game with the addition of Danny Briggs, so expect the middle overs to be dominated by spin as the international pair look to form a formidable partnership. The depth of the Strikers batting lineup is also very impressive, with a powerful top order consisting of Jake Weatherald, Phil Salt, Travis Head, and Alex Carey complimented beautifully by the likes of Matt Renshaw and Jonothan Wells in the middle. This is a very experienced and balanced squad that should be able to seriously challenge for a finals position.

Squad Weakness 

Fast bowlers and lack of a genuine all-rounder: One of the more balanced squads in this year’s tournament, the Strikers should be relatively comfortable with the make-up of their team heading into the first game. However, one major deficiency hindering their chances of a second title comes through their fast bowling attack, which lacks any true star power. Michael Neser, Daniel Worrall, Peter Siddle and Wes Agar are all serviceable at Big Bash level and should be solid contributors throughout the season, but they lack that extreme speed and death bowling skill that is vital in the modern game. The Strikers also do not have a genuine all-rounder in their best XI, with that missing versatility something the team will have to address early in the season. 

Zac Standish

Brisbane Heat

Squad:

Chris Lynn (c),  Xavier Bartlett, James Bazley, Max Bryant, Tom Cooper, Lewis Gregory (England), Sam Heazlett, Matthew Kuhnemann, Dan Lawrence (England), Ben Laughlin, Simon Milenko (replacement player for Marnus Labuschagne), Morne Morkel, Jimmy Peirson, Lachlan Pfeffer (replacement player for Joe Burns), Mujeeb ur Rahman (Afghanistan), Jack Sinfield, Mark Steketee, Jack Wood (replacement player for Mitchell Swepson), Jack Wildermuth, Matthew Willans

Big Inclusion:

Morne Morkel: Not only have the Heat managed to secure Morkel for the entire tournament, but his Sydney residency has also allowed them to sign him as a local player. The South African- who has had a previous stint at the Heat and played a match for the Scorchers last season- will look to replicate his white-ball destruction on Australia’s bouncy decks into BBL|10.   The towering paceman can get a steep bounce and bowl a heavy ball, even at 36 years of age, His adaptability and seniority will also be crucial to allow Chris Lynn to use his death-bowling weapon, Ben Laughlin, appropriately. 

Morne Morkel joins the Heat as a local player this season. Image source: www.brisbaneheat.com.au

Who’s Missing? .

Tom Banton and Matt Renshaw: The Heat’s batting order will have a different look to it this season, with the Adelaide Strikers luring Matt Renshaw following a breakout season last year, while Tom Banton will also be absent. The powerful top order batsman has been playing cricket around the world since July, the club supporting his decision to return home. Master striker AB De Villiers and tweaker Zahir Khan also won’t be returning, while uncertainty lingers over Mujeeb Ur Rahman who tested positive for COVID-19 while quarantining in Sydney. 

Test squad members Marnus Labuschagne, Joe Burns and Mitch Swepson will all be unavailable for the majority of the tournament, unlikely to be granted releases even if they aren’t selected, given the constraints with bio-secure bubbles.

Key Players; 

Chris Lynn  Spend your day mimicking his strokemaking in the backyard, and plan your night around his innings. Park yourself in front of the TV. Or at least a phone handy to check his highlights as the sprinkle onto social media. He’s the Liam Neeson of cricket; action aplenty, thrill of the boundaries and edge-of-your-seat tension as each ball could be his last. Every team wants him but he’s the typical Queenslander laid-back fishing larrikin so delivers his best batting for Brisbane. Darren Lehmann’s men have been criticised for an over-reliance on him, which is merely a product of his quality, clean striking and consistency. Enters the tournament with 3 centuries for premier side Toombul under his belt: 154 off 55, 104 off 41 and 143 off 43. 

Ben Laughlin; The evergreen paceman and his deceptive variations will be crucial for the Heat. Laughlin has been trusted to lead the bowling attack which otherwise lacks some venom and proven experience. That enhances his standing, but also responsibility to perform. But he always does. The leading wicket-taker in the competition’s history, Laughlin’s economy rate of over 8 perhaps don’t do his frugal bowling justice, as he always tackles the death overs. Another season of cunning changeups, adaptability and acting as a mentor for the younger bowlers is exactly what the Heat will want.

Wildcard Players;

Sam Heazlett; The ‘We Got The Chocolates’ podcast host, and avid surfer will be keen to add Big Basher to his CV and is perfectly positioned to do so. Has started the premier cricket season in scintillating form with 865 runs at 67, including a blistering 93 off 52 on Saturday, which he’ll look to translate to the pressure cooker BBL environment. Can play 360 and could be given the opportunity to capitalise in the powerplay in the absence of Tom Banton. Has 26 BBL matches under his belt striking at 125 and has international experience so he’s one to watch for the teal.

Rookies to Watch;

Matt Kuhnemann. The left arm orthodox bowler enters his third season on the Heat’s roster with three BBL games under his belt, victim of the Heat’s surplus spin options. But BBL|10 could be the time for Kuhnemann to step up to the level and play regular games for the Heat. He’s had the opportunity to pick the brains of Ur Rahman, and Zahir Khan, and plays state cricket with Mitch Swepson so will be keen for more exposure. Provided he maintains composure and control of his bowling, he has the variations to deliver. Given Brisbane’s rich list of spin bowlers, there’ll be high external expectations.

Squad Strength; 

explosiveness: we say it every year, and even with some losses, Brisbane still has plenty of explosion beyond Chris Lynn. Max Bryant will be hoping to rebound from a modest BBL|09 and give the Heat some solid platforms, while Sam Heazlett enters in terrific form. Dan Lawrence is a rising English prospect who can hit a long ball, and Lewis Gregory is an all-rounder that adds firepower to the middle order. And that’s before you mention Chris Lynn. Plus, the addition of Tom Cooper adds experience to the middle order, and balance to the batting lineup, with he and Jimmy Person having plenty of experience to guide Brisbane through the middle overs should they lose early wickets. Chris Lynn will be hoping they won’t have to act as a savior, though, demanding- and promising- more accountability from him and his top-order however. Should they bat smarter, they’re as scary a batting proposition as ever, especially if they can secure the services of proven BBL performer Joe Denly, who has been sounded out.  

Challenge;

Bowling options; Traditionally the Brisbane Heat have gone into matches with limited bowling options and BBL|10 is shaping a similar way. Max Bryant, Chris Lynn, Sam Heazlett, and Jimmy Pierson would all appear selection locks for the Heat, for the majority of the season with none likely to bowl at all. The additions of all-rounders Jack Wildermuth and Englishman Lewis Gregory could aid the situation, with Tom Cooper used by the Renegades at the beginning of innings, which could be an option for Chris Lynn. Dan Lawrence is also used occasionally as an off-spinner, but does that make Brisbane, who traditionally select two frontline tweakers too spin heavy? The problem is exacerbated when considering they’ll likely field young bowlers such as Xavier Bartlett and Jack Wood at various stages who the batsmen could get on top of. What’s certain is Chris Lynn will need to be creative in how he juggles his bowlers to contain the run-rate, especially in the fifth bowler slot.

Key International:

 Mujeeb Ur Rahman: The Afghani spinner returns to the Heat setup for BBL|10 as the 2nd ranked t20I bowler in the world. having played IPL and CPL this year. Ur Rahman tested positive for COVID-19 during his quarantine in Brisbane, casting doubt over his availability. At 19 already has over 100 games of t20 experience, going at over a wicket a game and frugal economy rate so the Heat will sweat on his availability to bamboozle opposition batsmen.

Jonty Ralphsmith

Hobart Hurricanes 

Squad:

Matthew Wade (c), Scott Boland, Johan Botha, Tim David, Jake Doran, Nathan Ellis, James Faulkner, Peter Handscomb, Colin Ingram (South Africa), Will Jacks (England), Sandeep Lamichhane (Nepal), Dawid Malan (England), Ben McDermott, Riley Meredith, David Moody, Mitchell Owen, Tim Paine, Wil Parker, Keemo Paul (West Indies), D’Arcy Short, Nick Winter, Mac Wright

Big Inclusion:

Dawid Malan. The ‘Canes have secured the Number One ranked T20 batsman, who will make his first appearance in the BBL. Malan secured the top ranking playing against Australia in the T20’s after hitting 66 from 43 balls in the first T20, and 42 from 32 in game two. With a strike rate of 146.66, Malan will comfortably slide himself into the Hurricane’s top order. 

Who’s Missing? 

Qais Ahmad. With the decision not to extend the Afghanistan leg spinners contract for BBL10, it has left the Hurricane’s bowlers lacking. Although replaced by Victorian leggy Wil Parker, the 18-year-old will still have a big arm to fill. In his inaugural BBL season, Ahmad finished with seven wickets at 12.71 in only three games. Can Parker, the boy who chose Cricket over playing AFL do the same?

Key Players 

D’Arcy Short.  Who else than the man who can hit and bowl the ball could be named the ‘Canes key player? Short returns for his fifth season in the purple. Short’s strike rate since being at Hobart sits at 143.30, average 46.42 runs a game. Whilst most relied with the bat, Short will become valuable in the mix of bowlers. Last season he took six wickets and bowled his best BBL game with 5-21 against the Thunder. Hobart can bet to count on Short for a winning performance.

Wildcard Players 

Johan Botha.  No stranger to the BBL format or to the Hurricanes, Johan Botha makes his return out of retirement after stints with the Strikers, Sixers and most recently the ‘Canes in BBL08. Botha has spent two years away from top level cricket and believes his body is physically refreshed and ready to appear in another season. Botha will join the side as replacements for Matthew Wade and Tim Paine whilst they are completely international duties. The all-rounder will slide in alongside James Faulkner, providing expertise in any on-field situation.

Key International Player

 Sandeep Lamichhane (Nepal)  The Hobart Sta… wait, we mean Hobart Hurricanes welcome the Nepalese right-arm spin bowler in the hope to make amends of the sides lacking areas and as an international replacement for Ahmad. Unfortunately, Lamichhane tested positive to COVID-19 and is recovering from the diagnoses, but he and the Hurricanes remain hopeful for his arrival in January. With all hoping that he recovers well, the Hurricanes can be certain that the youngster will take a few wickets, after taking 26 across his two seasons with the Stars.

Rookies to Watch

Will Parker. As mentioned earlier, Parker comes in to replace Qais Ahmed, but the youngster has proven that he is up for the challenge. Parker made his debut for Victoria last summer, proving to be one of the strongest leg spinners currently in the state system. The Hurricane’s coach Adam Griffiths has publicly instilled his confidence in his new bowler, expressing that he is willing to give any upcoming cricketer a chance – especially one who can turn the ball both ways. 

Squad Strength

 Top-order: It’s expected that power-house duo Matthew Wade and D’arcy Short will remain at the top of the order, and if taking on a similar role to when in England, Malan will come in at third. After a club record-breaking 203 partnership against the Strikers in BBL09, Wade and Short are sure to perform similarly this season, Even with the expectancy of Wade to not play the entire season, middle-order batsman Peter Handscomb, Ben McDermott, and Mac Wright will make up for the loss. 

Squad Challenge –

No Jofra Archer again. As opportunities continued to grow for Jofra Archer over in England, the Hurricanes were not able to get the fast-bowler to return for another stint. The bottom order of the Hobart’s side will have a lot of work to do and cannot simply rely on Faulkner and Short. In just seven games, Faulkner made 10 wickets and bowled at an average of 16.0. Sandeep Lamichhane will need to quickly settle into the side to provide assistance to Faulkner. 

Tricia Mifsud

Melbourne Renegades 

Squad:

Aaron Finch (c), Noor Ahmad (Afghanistan), Cameron Boyce, Brody Couch (replacement player), Zak Evans, Jake Fraser-McGurk, Sam Harper, Marcus Harris, Mackenzie Harvey, Peter Hatzoglou (replacement player), Jon Holland, Benny Howell (England), Josh Lalor, Shaun Marsh, Mohammad Nabi (Afghanistan), James Pattinson, Mitch Perry, Jack Prestwidge, Kane Richardson, Rilee Rossouw (South Africa), Will Sutherland, Imran Tahir (South Africa), Imad Wasim (Pakistan), Beau Webster

Big Inclusion

Rilee Roussouw (South Africa) With the losses of both Tom Cooper and Dan Christian in the middle order, Rossouw has huge shoes to fill at the number 5 position. Renegades coach Maxy Kinger has already publicly said that he expects the Protea to win games off his own bat, and with the Power Surge coming into play for the upcoming season, expect Rousow to pounce on the spinners.

Who’s Missing?

Tom Cooper & Dan Christian: Both will affect the Gades’ middle order, leaving them short of runs and firepower through the middle and closing overs. The signing of South African jet Rilee Rousouw should soften the blow but the experience of both Christian and Cooper will be sorely missed by this young Renegades team.

Key Player

Aaron Finch: The Aussie T20 and ODI captain will be entering his 10th season for the ‘Gades and has often been relied upon with the bat. Finch averaged 45.37 with the bat off just nine games in BBL|09 including a score of 109 against the Sixers at the SCG. With the T20 and one-day series concluding in time for BBL|10, Finch is primed for a big, full season with the team in red.

Wildcard Players

Beau Webster The Tasmanian had a breakout year with the bat in BBL|09 and will look to continue his form in the middle order in the upcoming season. Webster and his big levers managed to produce four 50’s in BBL 9 at a strike rate of 131.98. 

Key International

Mohammed Nabi (Afghanistan)

The Afghan international is back having only featured during the back-end of the 2019-20 competition but still managed 160 runs and five wickets as the Renegades improved on a wretched start. This time around will be slightly different as the Afghan will be touring just after the new year. Nabi will be vital in the early games for the Gades’.

Rookies to watch

Noor Ahmad (Afghanistan)  The creativity of the Afghan internationals are creating a new flavour in bowling across T20 tournaments around the world. Noor Ahmad is just 15 years of age and is currently completing his year 11 studies but will remain playing for the Renegades for the entirity of BBL 10. Ahmad’s pacey left arm leggies will go a long way to helping the Renegades improve their attack which struggled in 2019 conceding runs at 8.55 per over and taking just 69 wickets for the tournament. 

Squad Strength

Depth: It’s a good problem to have but there will be plenty of headaches at the selection table with a good mix of batters, bowlers, and all-rounders throughout the squad. Marcus Harris and Mackenzie Harvey will be pushing for an opening spot and would be hoping to knock off Shaun Marsh or Sam Harper to help build a cameo alongside skipper Aaron Finch. It will be interesting to see which bowlers they look to throw the ball to with James Pattison, Josh Lalor and Kane Richardson headlining a pace attack while Cameron Boyce, Noor Ahmad, Imad Wasim, Imran Tahir, Mohammad Nabi and Jon Holland will give Melbourne a mouth-watering selection of spinners on the menu.

Squad Challenge

Overcoming a nightmare BBL09: After winning the title in BBL08, the Gades’ suffered a premiership hangover in BBL09 losing its first 8 matches and winning only 3 for the season. It was a season to forget for new appointed coach Maxy Klinger – who would hope the Gades don’t replicate another horror season. A fast start is needed for the team in red who will have captain Aaron Finch available throughout the whole season. A flurry of home games at Marvel stadium at the backend of the tournament could go a long way in boosting a loaded Renegades squad into finals.

James Strebinos

Melbourne Stars 

Squad: 

Glenn Maxwell (c), Hilton Cartwright, Jackson Coleman, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Ben Dunk, Andre Fletcher (West Indies), Seb Gotch, Liam Hatcher, Clint Hinchliffe, Dilbar Hussain (Pakistan), Zahir Khan (Afghanistan), Nick Larkin, Nic Maddinson, Lance Morris, Tom O’Connell, Nicholas Pooran (West Indies), Will Pucovski, Billy Stanlake, Marcus Stoinis, Adam Zampa

Big Inclusion 

Nicholas Pooran:  At only 25 years of age, Pooran is one of the West Indies’ brightest young talents. As a wicketkeeper who bats predominantly in the middle order, Pooran scored 353 runs in this year’s IPL at a strike rate of nearly 170, hitting more sixes than fours. Will add extra firepower to the already impressive Stars middle order, so could he be the missing piece to guide the Stars to their first BBL title?

Who’s Missing? 

Haris Rauf: The story of last year’s Big Bash has bigger things on his agenda this year. Having been plucked from Tasmanian Premier Cricket to play for the Stars in BBL|09, Rauf will miss the entirety of BBL|10 due to international duties with Pakistan. Rauf topped the Stars’ wicket-taking list and finished fourth overall in the competition, taking 20 wickets in his 10 games at an economy of 7.05. The Stars will miss his raw pace and wicket-taking ability, so who will step up in his absence?

Key Player  

Glenn Maxwell: If Maxwell can continue his international form into this year’s BBL, the Stars will be well on their way to success. In his six international white-ball innings this summer, Maxwell scored 245 runs at a strike rate of 175, and despite a lean IPL season with the bat, there’s little doubt that Maxwell has escaped his IPL form slump and is primed for a big BBL|10. Maxwell will be available for the entire tournament as Australia’s limited-overs matches for the summer have all been completed, so the Stars will be heavily boosted by his availability. Maxwell will be looking to replicate and build on his from from past BBL seasons, having scored 398 runs at a strike rate of 148.5 in last year’s BBL.

Wildcard Player 

Jackson Coleman: Coleman has featured occasionally for the Stars since his T20 debut in BBL|07. Despite only playing ten matches, he’s already taken two 3-wicket hauls, including one in his only game of BBL|09, and has recorded a very tidy economy rate of 7.18 runs per over. Coleman has also taken 27 wickets in 17 List A (domestic 50-over) innings, and has taken two four-wicket hauls and one five-wicket haul. With the absence of Haris Rauf from the Stars’ side this year, could Coleman come into calculation for one of the fast-bowling positions? He’s previously shown he can succeed when called upon, and should certainly be considered. 

Key International Player

Zahir Khan: Zahir crosses to the Stars for BBL|10 after playing with the Brisbane heat in BBL|09. In his eight games for the Heat, he took eight wickets and finished with an excellent economy of 6.59. In seven matches for the St Lucia Zouks in the 2020 Caribbean Premier League, Zahir also took eight wickets, again at a frugal economy of 6.92. The crafty left-arm wrist-spinner will serve as an effective replacement for Sandeep Lamichhane, who crosses to the Hobart Hurricanes this season after two seasons with the Stars. Zahir will provide economical bowling in the powerplay and middle overs for the Stars, and poses a threat to batsmen with his clever variations.

Rookie to Watch

Lance Morris: The young West-Australian fast bowler played five matches for the Stars in BBL|09. With an extra fast-bowling spot opening up due to Haris Rauf’s absence, could Morris be the one to fill the void? In just his second first-class match for WA this season, Morris recorded a fiery five-wicket haul, which included the wickets of Tim Paine, Ben McDermott and Beau Webster. Morris will be contending with a few others for a spot in the Stars’ XI, but they’ve shown willingness to give him a go in the past. Could he be a standby player for the new X-Factor sub rule?

Squad Strength 

The Stars’ flexibility and depth are undoubtedly the predominant strengths of their squad. They’ve got plenty of specialist batting and bowling firepower, lead by players such as Billy Stanlake, Adam Zampa, and Nick Larkin, but perhaps their strongest area of depth is their all-rounder stocks, featuring the likes of Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Nic Maddinson and Hilton Cartwright. Despite losing Peter Handscomb to the Hurricanes ahead of BBL|10, the Stars’ wicket-keeping depth is also exceptional, featuring Ben Dunk and Seb Gotch, and adding West Indian pair Nicholas Pooran and Andre Fletcher to their international signings. With this depth, the Stars are able to cover for players on international duties effectively, lessening the impact felt in losing their big-name players.

Squad challenge

The Stars’ capacity for success in the past few seasons has perhaps been inhibited by the inconsistency of a few players. In particular, Ben Dunk and Nic Maddinson haven’t performed quite as well as the Stars’ recruiters would have hoped when recruiting them from the Adelaide Strikers and Sydney Sixers. The Stars will be immensely benefited by the full-season availability of Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis and Adam Zampa, but success from Dunk and Maddinson in the middle order will be key to the Stars’ chances of finally securing an elusive BBL premiership.

Will Cuckson

Perth Scorchers

Squad:

Mitchell Marsh (c), Ashton Agar, Fawad Ahmed, Cameron Bancroft, Jason Behrendorff, Joe Clarke (England), Cameron Gannon, Cameron Green, Aaron Hardie, Josh Inglis, Matthew Kelly, Liam Livingstone (England), Colin Munro (New Zealand), Joel Paris, Kurtis Patterson, Jhye Richardson, Jason Roy (England), Ashton Turner, Andrew Tye, Sam Whiteman

Big Inclusion 

Jason Roy: the big hitting Englishman is back in the Big Bash following a period of settling into the top of the order in all of England’s white ball squads. While he didnt fire in the recent International series in South Africa, he did post some consistent scores over 50 for Surrey in the T20 Blast mid year. Roy is set to form a destructive international combination at the top of the order with countryman Liam Livingstone or big hitting New Zealand import Colin Munro.

Who’s Missing?

Chris Jordan: the Scorchers will miss his death bowling and his athleticism in the field. The England international has opted out of BBL10 after extended stints in England’s biosecure bubble all England summer, a stint in the IPL and a recent tour of South Africa.

Key Players 

Mitchell Marsh: The skipper is priming himself to be back and ready for action after breaking down in the first game of the IPL after a successful stint back in the Australia limited overs team in the winter tour to England following a strong BBL09. The powerful middle order player will have his sights set on getting back into the National fold and will be wanting to lead from the front again with strong performances.

Ashton Turner:  The all rounder turned batsman is one of the key planks of the Scorchers top order and is another one within the squad who will be looking to put themselves back into National calculations after beginning the year in the limited overs squads. The big hitting 27 year old has shown he can win a game off his own bat on a number of occasions and will be looking for plenty of runs following a good tournament last year.

Wildcard Player

Josh Inglis: The keeper-batsman grabbed his opportunity last season and looks set to continue to make a name for himself as one of the country’s best young wicketkeeper batsmen again in BBL10 following a strong campaign last year at the top of the order.

Key International Player

Liam Livingstone: The Big hitting opener returns to Perth this year following a season of being back in and around the England White ball setup, on the cusp of selection in their star studded limited overs side. Livingstone made an impression at the top of the order last season with some lusty blows all over Optus Stadium and stepping up with some handy off spinners, often jagging a key wicket at an opportune time. Will be looking for a big campaign again following a modest domestic T20 Blast in the English Summer.

Rookies to Watch

Aaron Hardie:  Not many players yet to play an International game can lay claims to getting the likes of Joe Root and Virat Kohli out. Aaron Hardie has. Capable of pushing the speed gun and holding his own with the bat in the middle order, the talented all rounder is entering his 3rd season with the Scorchers and looks set to cement himself as a regular in this strong side.

Squad Strength

Fast Bowling Stocks: The Scorchers boast some of the best young and experienced fast bowlers in the competition. Jhye Richardson is back bowling after having further shoulder surgery in the COVID forced break along with young speedster Matthew Kelly are some of the brightest young fast bowling prospects in the country. Coupled with the senior experience of Jason Behrendorff, AJ Tye and new signing Cameron Gannon, there are no shortage of options when it comes to selecting a pace attack. Throw in Cameron Green when available too.

Squad Challenge

Few games at Optus Stadium. While they are still settling into their shiny new digs at Optus Stadium after moving away from the WACA, the Scorchers record in Perth is their biggest trump card and the biggest thing they have in their favour with a strong home support. How will they adapt to moving around from hub to hub with minimal games with their unofficial 12th man?

Jono Baruch

Sydney Sixers 

Squad: 

Moises Henriques (c), Justin Avendano, Carlos Brathwaite (West Indies), Jake Ball (England) Dan Christian, Ben Dwarshuis, Jack Edwards, Jason Holder (West Indies), Daniel Hughes, Hayden Kerr, Nathan Lyon, Ben Manenti, Lawrence Neil-Smith (replacement player for Jackson Bird), Steve O’Keefe, Josh Philippe, Lloyd Pope, Tom Rogers (replacement player for Sean Abbott), Jordan Silk, Mitchell Starc, James Vince (England)

Big Inclusion 

Mitchell Starc: the big left-arm quick returns to the Sixers, this season to the place he built his reputation to become one of the best white-ball bowlers in the world. A key figure in their inaugural title in BBL 01 and the Champions League in 2012, Starc’s availability will be determined on Test selection and may only be available for the Sixers for the back end of the tournament to help the reigning champions defend their crown. When he does get there, he will beef up a probing pace attack with his pace and death bowling. 

Who’s Missing? 

Tom Curran:  The Sixers’ leading wicket-taker from BBL|09 recently withdrew from his BBL|10 contract due to the fatigue and toll of being in the bubble. His bowling will be missed by the Sixers, having taken 22 wickets in 13 innings to finish third on the wicket-taking charts. However, Curran’s contributions with the bat were also incredibly valuable for the Sixers. He scored 133 runs in ten innings with a strike rate of 149, coming in late in the innings as a pinch-hitter. Can Jason Holder or Carlos Brathwaite replicate Curran’s impact with bat and ball? The Sixers have certainly recruited them with this goal, so time will tell. 

Key Player

Josh Philippe: After a break-out season in BBL|09, Philippe will be ready to establish himself as one of the BBL’s top-tier batsmen. The keeper-batsman topped the Sixers’ run-scoring and finished third overall on the run-scoring charts with 487 runs in 16 innings at the top of the order. Philippe scored his runs at an impressive strike rate of just under 130, scoring 5 half-centuries in the process as well. His ability to score quick runs at the start of the innings was key to the Sixers’ eventual BBL Final victory, top scoring and winning player of the match in the final with 52 off 29 balls. 

Wildcard Player 

Lloyd Pope:  Pope showed his wicket-taking ability in his eight games for the Sixers last season. He returned ten wickets in these games, taking 3/23 against the Sydney Thunder at the SCG in his best performance of the season. Pope has a chance to solidify his position in the Sixers’ XI, and despite likely needing to contend with Steve O’Keefe, Ben Manenti and Nathan Lyon for the spin bowling positions, the increasing value of leg-spinners in T20 cricket around the globe should see Pope get an extended chance to impress. 

Key International Player

Carlos Brathwaite: Remember the name? With his medium-fast bowling and power hitting, the Sixers will be hoping Brathwaite can fill the void created by Tom Curran’s absence. Brathwaite finished this year’s Caribbean Premier League with ten wickets from ten innings with an economy of 8.2. As the 32-year-old is available for the whole season, the Sixers will hope Brathwaite can provide consistent and equal returns with bat and ball, perhaps accompanying veteran and new addition Dan Christian as a middle-order pinch-hitter and handy bowling option.

Rookie to Watch

Jack Edwards: Is this the year Edwards finally makes his mark on the BBL? He’s played 14 games for the Sixers since debuting in BBL|08, but is still just 20 years of age. Edwards has shown signs of success for NSW in Sheffield Shield and 50-over cricket, and has already scored a ton and two fifties in the 50-over format. Could this be the year he steps up to perform in the game’s shortest format? Edwards’ batting proficiency is coupled with his handy medium-pace bowling, so he could certainly prove to be a useful option for the Sixers.

Squad Strength: 

Many of the Sixers’ batsmen will enter the tournament in a good run of form. In a trial match against the Adelaide Strikers, Daniel Hughes struck 60 off 19 balls and Jack Edwards 61 off 42 while the Sixers’ BBL|09 leading run-scorer Josh Philippe starred with 94 off 61. Moises Henriques has also displayed some good form with both bat and ball in the international series against India. To top it all off, Dan Christian hit a blistering 100 off 33 in a trial match against the Sydney Thunder, also taking two wickets to complete the performance.

Squad Challenge:

Whilst the Sixers’ batting lineup looks great on paper, they are perhaps lacking a bit of the top-order firepower of teams such as the Stars, Scorchers or Hurricanes. Josh Philippe aside, the top and middle order of Daniel Hughes, James Vince, Moises Henriques and Jordan Silk seems slightly lacking in the out-and-out ball-striking ability of many of the Scorchers and Hurricanes batsmen. Perhaps Justin Avendano could slot in alongside Philippe at the top of the order to add an extra dimension to the lineup. 

Will Cuckson

Sydney Thunder 

Squad:

Callum Ferguson (c), Sam Billings (England), Jonathan Cook, Ben Cutting, Oliver Davies, Brendan Doggett, Matthew Gilkes, Chris Green, Alex Hales (England), Baxter Holt, Usman Khawaja, Nathan McAndrew, Adam Milne (NZ), Arjun Nair, Alex Ross, Daniel Sams, Jason Sangha, Tanveer Sangha, Chris Tremain

Big Inclusion

Ben Cutting: It’s exactly what the doctor ordered. After 9 seasons at the heat, Cutting will partner with star bowler Daniel Sams and has often been seen as a finisher with the bat. The Thunder have had a weak middle order in previous seasons and with short boundaries at Giants Stadium, expect Cutting to play a vital role with the bat.

Who’s Missing

Chris Morris: The South African all rounder played a big role in the Thunder’s fortunes last season with vital contributions with both bat and ball but won’t be returning to Australia for BBL10.

Key Players

Daniel Sams: Coming off a strong BBL09 and International T20 debut, Sams will once again lead the Thunders bowling attack. He was the only man to bowl two maidens in BBL09 and won the golden arm taking 30 wickets from 17 games. With a weak bowling attack, the Thunder may need to rely on Sams to replicate last years form.

Wildcard Players

Jono Cook: The only thing better than his majestic man bun is his teasing leggies which became a revelation in BBL09. The 30-year-old picked up 13 wickets last season to cement himself as the number one spinner in the side after off-spinner Chris Green took just 3 wickets in 7 matches. With a lack of spinners in the side, Cook will be relied upon to take pace off the ball.

Key International

Alex Hales: The Englishmen will be available throughout the entirety of the tournament and is coming off a strong BBL|09 where he managed to score a half-century on six occasions and hitting a whopping 59 fours and 23 sixes. Will open with Khawaja in what will be a scary pair for opposition bowlers.

Rookies to Watch

Jason Sangha: Didn’t play a game in BBL|09 after a strong BBL|08 where he was the youngest player to score a half-century in the BBL when he made 63* against the Melbourne Stars at Manuka Oval. Sangha captured the attention of many observers in 2017 when he made 133 not out against an England XI as a 17-year-old. Now 21, Sangha will be desperate to break into Thunder’s strong batting line up.

Squad strengths

Top order: It’s what propelled them into the finals last year. Hales, Ferguson, Khawaja and Ross were mostly consistent and will hopefully set up a decent base for when Englishman Sam Billings and new recruit Ben Cutting appear in the middle order.

Squad weaknesses

Match winning bowlers: It was all Sams, Green and the departed Chris Morris who managed to take a bulk of wickets for the Thunder last year. The addition of Cutting will provide another pace option after Gurinder Sandhu was released from the list. Brendan Doggett, Chris Green and Nathan McAndrew are all capable of stepping up to help create chances for the men in green.

James Strebinos

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