Chris Green Sydney Thunder BBL|11

Sydney Thunder allrounder Chris Green is excited for the BBL|11 season. (Photo: Sydney Thunder)

The Sydney Thunder have retained much of their roster from last season with allrounder Chris Green saying the squad sticking together was important in contesting for the BBL|11 title.

Sydney Thunder allrounder Chris Green has labelled the club’s assembled squad for BBL|11 as one that has largely stuck together, a factor in helping push for a title and stopping their cross-town rivals from a three-peat.

The Thunder begins their upcoming BBL|11 campaign on Monday night when they welcome the Brisbane Heat to Manuka Oval in Canberra, a venue all-too-familiar to the club after playing seven regular-season games there in BBL|10, as well as hosting The Challenger Final at the venue.

Although the season might start in the nation’s capital again for the Thunder, the club is expecting to return to Sydney Showground Stadium for the first time since BBL|09 – with their first game at the ground on December 12 against the Melbourne Stars – and welcoming back the fans who have stuck it out in tough times recently.

“To have fans back, it’s the most exciting thing,” Green told media at the season launch in Sydney on Monday.

“We had a tough year last year feeling away from it all, but to be back to a somewhat normal Big Bash this year, home fans back with Thunder Nation is certainly one of the things that I can’t wait for.”

Ahead of finalising their BBL|11 roster, the Thunder have retained 16 players from their BBL|10 list, with Arjun Nair and New Zealander Adam Milne making way for local Eastern Suburbs batter Baxter Holt and Englishman Saqib Mahmood.

It’s the fact that the club has been able to retain two of its overseas players, amongst many young guns who are gaining more experience with each season being identified as integral members of the squad that has Green believing it can be a factor in pushing for silverware, that continuity in the squad playing an important role for cohesiveness among the group.

“The thing that I’m looking forward to is we’ve got a very similar squad [to BBL|10]. We’ve retained two of our overseas players from last year in Alex Hales and Sam Billings,” Green said.

“Locally, we’ve got a very similar squad of guys coming back, our young guys are [be]coming more experienced in Ollie Davies, Matt Gilkes, Tanveer Sangha, they had an amazing Big Bash last year, have [had] a year of state cricket and they’ll be better for it. I think we’re in a really good place and knowing each other very, very well, it’s something that can [help] push for that title this year.”

Last year’s league-leading run-scorer (543 runs at an average of 38.78), Alex Hales is one of three English players – the other being Sam Billings, and newcomer Saqib Mahmood – to put on the lime green in BBL|11, with Green confirming the group will contribute much to the team this year.

“Alex was fantastic last year with the bat, leading run-scorer…, fits in really well with our group, fantastic guy on the field, contributes off the field, wealth of knowledge and experience,” he said.

“Billings is very similar, he captains his team in England and he’s done well for England, and Saqib Mahmood… [is] an exciting young fast bowler.

“The three of them are going to be a big part and have a big key role to play for us throughout the summer and I’m looking forward to watching them go about their business.”

But further from that international experience coming from different countries around the world, Green commented on the Thunder’s young contingent of players who will bring a fresh outlook into the group based on their own experiences throughout the past few years.

“I think we got a great mix of that youth coming through and as I’ve said they’ve got a lot of experience under their belt now playing domestic cricket for a season,” Green started saying.

“Tanveer Sangha had a breakout season in his debut season last year in the Big Bash and he’s been travelling with the Aussie guys through the bubble tours… Ollie Davis [has] that fearlessness.

“They bring in that fearless nature of cricket and I think the balance works really well in our squad.”

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The Thunder come into the BBL|11 season having qualified for finals the last two years, although haven’t been able to extend upon their one title when they won BBL|05 with a three-wicket win over the Melbourne Stars. However, across the first decade of the competition, much of the side’s results have seen them languish towards the bottom of the standings, including four wooden spoon finishes.

It’s a trend that the Thunder and Green want to rid throughout this season and are hoping their recent finals appearances helps that cause, especially after cross-town rivals, the Sydney Sixers have won the past two titles – in BBL|09 against the Melbourne Stars, and BBL|10 against the Perth Scorchers.

“Having lifted the trophy already in my second BBL [season] – BBL|05 -, it’s something that I think we’re due to do [again] and to give back to the Thunder Nation this year,” Green commented.

“Our fans have been supporting us through thick and thin, it’s the motivating factor that everyone wants to try and do at the start of each season, but I feel really confident as I said. I think the continuity in our squad is something that will put us in a great place this season.”

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