The much-anticipated 2020/21 Big Bash League gets underway on December 3. This year was meant to be one of huge sporting significance in Australia, but Covid-19 put paid to that hope with the Men’s 2020 T20 World Cup Down Under postponed until 2022. As a result, interest in this season’s BBL is expected to be at an all-time high.
The squads for this season are still being finalised after the transfer embargo was lifted. We take a look at the squads as they currently stand and assess the chances of the respective franchises. Teams are allowed three overseas players this season opposed to the normal two.
The Adelaide Strikers finished third in the table last season with eight victories from their 14 matches. The Strikers have one BBL title to their name, with that sole triumph coming in 2017/18 and they appear to have the capabilities of challenging again this year.
Jon Wells had a superb season in 2019/20, scoring 478 runs at an average of 68.28, but the Strikers arguably relied on Wells too much, along with Australia international Alex Carey. The addition of Matt Renshaw should provide the Strikers with more quality and versatility in their batting line-up.
On the bowling front, the Strikers have confirmed that world No. 1 ranked T20 bowler Rashid Khan will return to the franchise this season. The news will come as a huge boost to the Strikers after the spinner took 19 wickets last season, going at just over seven runs per over.
Peter Siddle, the Strikers’ joint-top wicket-taker for the Strikers last season, remains in the set-up. Other players to watch include batsmen Travis Head and Jake Weatherald.
The Brisbane Heat finished seventh last season and could well face a similar fate this time around. They have retained the services of England’s Tom Banton, while the big-hitting Chris Lynn also forms part of the squad. Those two are capable of tearing any attack apart, while Max Bryant can also strike some lusty blows.
The Heat’s season could depend on new signings before the tournament gets underway. Last season, AB de Villiers joined the Heat’s ranks, but won’t be returning this year.
Ben Cutting, Matt Renshaw and James Pattinson have left the franchise, which weakens them significantly compared to last season. The look of the current squad suggests that it will be another struggle in BBL10 unless Banton and Lynn can work some miracles.
The Hobart Hurricanes might have made the eliminator last season, but they only snuck in there through the back door. The Hurricanes were unfortunate that their top two batsmen in Matthew Wade and D’Arcy Short were both called up for international duty and only played nine matches each.
Short averaged 44.62 and Wade 50.14 in those matches, so had they been available for the entire tournament, it could have been a different story.
This season the Hurricanes have already added world No. 1 T20 batsman Dawid Malan to their ranks, as well as Australia international Peter Handscomb. These two additions make the Hurricanes look like a serious threat, particularly if Wade and Short are available for the entire season.
The Hurricanes have been two-time losing finalists (2013/14 and 2017/18) and have never lifted the title. Should they strengthen their bowling line-up, we could see a surprise package emerging.
The Melbourne Renegades only managed three victories in their 14 matches last season as they finished bottom a year after winning BBL08.
The Renegades have let Tom Cooper, Dan Christian and Jack Wildermuth leave the franchise and signed James Pattinson on the domestic front. Pattinson will add plenty of quality on the bowling front, but more will be required if the Renegades are to avoid another disappointing season. The signings of overseas spinners Imran Tahir and Noor Ahmad will help in that regard.
Australia opening batsman and limited-overs captain Aaron Finch will once again lead the side this season. He was superb in 2019, averaging 45.37, but only managed to feature in nine matches due to international commitments.
Alongside Finch, Shaun Marsh will need a big season if the Renegades are to improve on their BBL09 performance. On the bowling front, Kane Richardson and Pattinson will lead the Renegades attack and will be joined by Mohammad Nabi who returns for a fourth season.
The Melbourne Stars have never won the Big Bash title, but have made the final three times in the last five seasons, including the last two editions. They once again start the season as favourites with Australian bookmakers.
The Stars topped the Big Bash table last season with 10 wins from their 14 matches. This was thanks in the main to opening batsman Marcus Stoinis, who scored 705 runs at an average of 54.23 – the most runs ever in a single BBL season. This included a high score of 147.
Stoinis has remained with the Stars for this season, but they have lost star middle-order batsman Peter Handscomb to the Hobart Hurricanes. Daniel Worrall has also left the franchise, while lanky fast bowler Billy Stanlake has joined from the Adelaide Strikers.
The Stars certainly have the team to push on again, with Glenn Maxwell, Ben Dunk, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Nic Maddinson, and Adam Zampa in the squad. None of them are likely to feature in Australia’s Test squad, so they should certainly have a settled line-up.
The Perth Scorchers have been the most successful team in Big Bash history, making the final in five of the nine tournaments and winning three titles. Last season did not go according to plan though.
Much like BBL09, the Scorchers look a bit bowler-heavy but have been boosted by the overseas signing of England’s Jason Roy.
With Jason Behrendorff, Jhye Richardson, Andrew Tye, Fawad Ahmed and Ashton Agar, the Scorchers have a full international line-up of bowlers.
Cameron Bancroft and Liam Livingstone offer further quality with the bat, while Mitchell Marsh will play as the main all-rounder. Bancroft and Marsh could be called up to international duty, which would leave the Scorchers somewhat short on international quality.
Sydney Sixers (defending champions)
The Sydney Sixers claimed their second BBL title last season. The Sixers won nine of their 14 league matches, finishing one point adrift of table toppers, Melbourne Stars.
It was an impressive team showing, with many players contributing throughout the season. Opener Josh Philippe was the star with the bat as he amassed 487 runs at 37.46. No other Sydney Sixers batsman featured in the top 20 of the run-scorers list.
On the bowling front, Tom Curran and Ben Dwarshuis performed admirably throughout with 22 and 16 wickets respectively. The Sixers will have the services of both Curran and Dwarshuis, as well as that of Philippe in 2020/21.
Veteran Dan Christian has been signed up, while James Vince returns to take up an overseas spot. Australian spinner Nathan Lyon also finds himself in the squad but could miss large chunks of the season with India in town for a Test series.
Jordan Silk has proven time and again what a quality middle-order batsman he is, while Sean Abbott and Jackson Bird offer plenty of experience with the ball.
The Sydney Thunder will hope for more consistency season this time around after they finished fifth last season but fell just one victory short of a place in the final.
The Thunder have retained the services of England international Alex Hales, who finished as the second top run-scorer in BBL09. Hales averaged 38.40 with a total of 576 runs and carried the Thunder on his own in some games.
On the bowling front, the Thunder had the top two wicket-takers in BBL09 in Daniel Sams and South Africa’s Chris Morris. This year, New Zealand quick Adam Milne will join up with the likes of Sams, Chris Tremain and Ben Cutting.
Overall, the Thunder look a well-balanced squad with the signing of Cutting, while in Tremain, Chris Green, Alex Ross and Callum Ferguson there is plenty of T20 experience.