The new Big Bash League season commences on Sunday as we launch into the summer’s daily flow of fixtures, so it’s time to study up as the games comes thick and fast. You don’t want to be left behind.
First up, it’s the $40,000 slate on Draftstars with the Sydney Sixers taking on the Melbourne Stars, followed by Sydney Thunder-Brisbane Heat in Canberra on Monday, Melbourne Renegades-Adelaide Strikers in Melbourne on Tuesday, Hobart Hurricanes-Sixers in Launceston and Perth Scorchers-Heat in Perth on a Wednesday double-header.
As always the BBL is compromised my concurrent international commitments, namely the Ashes with the likes of Travis Head, Alex Carey, Mitch Swepson, Michael Neser, Marnus Labuschagne, Marcus Harris, Jhye Richardson, Usman Khawaja and Nathan Lyon ruled out for practically the whole tournament.
Then there’s also an Australia A tour match against the English Lions which commences on Thursday December 9 running to Sunday December 12 which will also rule out several key players from the early games, including Matt Renshaw, Mark Steketee, Nic Maddinson, Mitch Marsh, Ashton Agar, Josh Inglis and Sean Abbott.
To add to that, there’s a handful of BBL-contracted players in that English Lions squad too, namely Harry Brook, Tom Abell and Saqib Mahmood.
Injuries have ravaged the BBL this season too, with Australia’s T20 World Cup winning gloveman Matthew Wade under an injury cloud with a side strain for Hobart’s first game. Wade’s Hurricanes fast bowling teammate Riley Meredith with miss the first few games with a hamstring injury.
Renegades batsman Aaron Finch looks set to be unavailable for a few early games with a niggling knee issue, while top-order teammate Shaun Marsh is out until Christmas with a calf injury.
Across town, the Stars have plenty of issues with Nathan Coulter-Nile, Qais Ahmed (T10 League) and Joe Burns (knee) set to be absent early while quick Billy Stanlake (back) and keeper Seb Gotch (finger) are out for the season.
The Sixers have lost Carlos Brathwaite (shoulder) on the eve of the tournament, replaced by England international Chris Jordan for five games, while Ben Dwarshuis (side) and Jackson Bird (Achilles) are also out. Perth Scorchers’ English recruit Tymal Mills will arrive late and miss their first games too.
Injuries have ravaged the BBL this season, with Matthew Wade under an injury cloud with a side strain, while Aaron Finch looks set to be unavailable early and teammate Shaun Marsh is out until Christmas.
The bulk of the new imports hail from England, led by Ben Duckett who joins the Heat as a top-order batsman with a handful of international caps. He was second top scorer in this year’s The Hundred with 232 runs for the Welsh Fire.
The Hurricanes have added explosive English middle-order bat Harry Brook who averaged 47.25 in five games in The Hundred, and was fourth top scorer in UK’s T20 Vitality Blast with 486 runs.
The Strikers added all-rounder George Garton who took 10 wickets in nine games for the Southern Brave in the same tournament, before making his IPL debut later in the year.
Unmukt Chand becomes the first Indian to join a BBL club, signing with the Renegades, while unheralded Pakistani left-arm off-spinner Syed Faridoun has signed with the Stars in a speculative pick.
The BBL season opener between the reigning champions Sixers and the glamorous Stars pits two sides boasting elite players.
The visitors have T20 World Cup winners Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis and Adam Zampa. Stoinis’s price is skewed by inuries last season which hampered his ability to bowl but he is now fully fit and able. Zampa was almost Player of the Tournament at the World Cup and also appears under-priced, with 13 wickets in seven games and an economy rate of 5.81.
Stars import Faridoun and Joe Clarke, who will wicketkeeper and open the batting, appear locked to play first up and offer good value with decent roles.
Sixers all-rounder Dan Christian is someone worth fading given his price and the arrival of Tom Curran and Chris Jordan who will likely take over bowling the death overs, which are fruitful for point-scoring. Jordan has come in at basement price and is a must-have, with his all-round ability. Curran falls in the same category, after sitting out BBL|10 with bubble fatigue. Both are top quality.
Beyond the season opener, Rashid Khan and Glenn Maxwell are pricey but offer points scoring capability with all three disciplines (batting, bowling and fielding), so they’re worth paying up for. Rashid, in particular, takes on the depleted Renegades batting line-up twice in the first three games, so he may dine out.
Players who only bat are often worth fading and you may take a gamble on leaving out Chris Lynn who can be very hit-and-miss.
Dan Christian is someone worth fading given his price and the arrival of Tom Curran and Chris Jordan who will likely take over bowling the death overs, which are fruitful for point-scoring
If you’re hunting for a basement price, look at the sides who’ve been heavily impacted by rep call-ups or injuries, meaning under-priced players will get an opportunity. The Renegades top-order is decimated so Mackenzie Harvey, Jake Fraser-McGurk and replacement James Seymour could get games in top four batting positions.
The Strikers have lost Carey, Renshaw and Head and not retained Phil Salt, so their top order is in disarray early, so Matt Short and Harry Nielsen are likely to get prime roles.
The Stars bowling attack is another which is decimated, so Faridoun looms as an option along with Sam Rainbird, but it may also assist some of their all-rounders like Stoinis or Maxwell who could be trusted to bowl more overs.
The ideal players are all-rounders for point-scoring. Bowlers who bat towards the top of the tail are good too, along with top four batsmen who bowl part-time. Top four bats who also are wicketkeepers or field in dangerous spots are valuable too. Try to steer clear players who bat only, especially those outside the top three or four if they don’t bowl.
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