BBL11: Team-by-team season preview

Asia's Tech News Daily

Summer is upon us and there’s a feeling of excitement in the air, as we prepare for another season of Big Bash cricket.

BBL|11 will kick off on Sunday December 5th, with the Sydney Sixers looking to defend their title and will star their campaign against the star-studded Melbourne Stars.

Thunder, Hurricanes and Scorchers fans will be coming into the season with plenty of optimism, while some other clubs will be sweating on the availibility of some big-name players.

With the clock ticking down until the start of BBL|11, Sporting News have gone through all eight teams and highlighted their strengths, weaknesses, key players and potential finish for the upcoming tournament. 

ADELAIDE STRIKERS

BBL|10 finish: 5th

After making the finals only to fall out in ‘the eliminator’ of BBL|10, Adelaide will be looking to improve on their efforts in the upcoming campaign.

Plenty is going to hinge on the availibility of Alex Carey and Travis Head, who are both in the mix for a Test call-up for The Ashes. Carey is the front-runner to replace Tim Paine as Australian keeper, while Head has his nose in front of Usman Khawaja for the No.5 spot.

If both of those players aren’t available to play for the Strikers, their batting lineup looks a tad light. A lot of the responsibility will fall onto the shoulders of Jake Weatherald, Matthew Renshaw and Jono Wells, who are experienced Big Bash players, while players like Liam Scott and Matt Short will need to stand up.

As for the Strikers’ bowling attack, they possess one of the best in the competition. Rashid Khan remains among the elite T20 bowlers in world cricket, while their pace-bowling is absolutely stacked with the likes of Peter Siddle, Wes Agar and Daniel Worrall at their disposal. 

It is tough to see the Strikers improving on their BBL|10 campaign, especially with the potential absence of Carey and Head, but their bowling attack should keep them in quite a few games. 

Strength: Class bowling attack

Weakness: Batting lineup if Carey/Head both unavailable

Likely XI: Matt Renshaw, Jake Weatherald, Matt Short, Jono Wells, Harry Nielsen, Liam Scott, Wes Agar, Michael Neser, Rashid Khan, Peter Siddle, Daniel Worrall

Predicted BBL|11 finish: 7th 

BRISBANE HEAT

BBL|10 finish: 4th 

After getting within one game of the final in BBL|10, Heat fans will be somewhat optimistic coming into this tournament. 

Last season saw the emergence of players like Xavier Bartlett and James Bazley, who will be better for the run and will be looking to make an even bigger impact in BBL|11, while some of the franchise’s big names really performed.

Mujeeb ur Rahman has already established himself in the upper-echelon of T20 bowlers in the world, and his first season in the Big Bash was absolutely fantastic, taking 14 wickets in eight games including a tremendous five-wicket haul.

The rest of the bowling attack is well built, with experienced campaigners Mark Steketee, Mitchell Swepson and Michael Neser all lining up for the Heat once again – however, the availability of the latter two will depend on their Test commitments. Matt Kuhnemann is in great form for Queensland at Shield level, and could feature if Swepson isn’t available. 

The batting side of things for the Heat will rely on big-hitting stars Chris Lynn and Max Bryant. If they are able to fire in more games than not, Brisbane will be racking up some big scores and winning plenty of games.

Heat should be able to compete for a spot in the finals this season when you look at their side on paper, but their big-name batters are a little bit inconsistent, so it is hard to put them near the top of the tree. 

Strength: Spin bowling options

Weakness: Batting depth 

Likely XI: Chris Lynn, Max Bryant, Tom Abell, Jimmy Peirson, Sam Heazlett, Tom Cooper, Jack Wildermuth, Michael Neser, Mitchell Swepson, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Mark Steketee

Predicted BBL|11 finish: 6th 

HOBART HURRICANES

BBL10 finish: 6th 

After an overall disappointing season in BBL|10, Hobart will be looking to return to the finals and they’ve certainly got the squad to make it happen. 

Matthew Wade has been left out of the Test squad and will captain the side, and if he plays the majority of their games, they will be winning more than they lose. The veteran is coming off a strong T20 World Cup and can score runs with ease at this level.

Looking at the rest of this batting lineup on paper is a lovely sight as well. Ben McDermott, Peter Handscomb and D’arcy Short all have the ability to produce big scores, with McDermott scoring three half-centuries last season.

The bowling attack has come along nicely in recent years, with the emergence of fast-bowler Nathan Ellis one of the great stories. The 27-year-old is now among the best T20 bowlers in the country, and is just as dangerous with the new ball as he is steady as the death. 

Sandeep Lamichhane is a talented spinner and will only improve with age, while the likes of Scott Boland and Riley Meredith have been in this arena for long enough to be counted upon for crucial poles.

The increased availibility of Wade, the striking power of McDermott and the bowling attack make the Hurricanes a real threat this year, and they should be improving on their BBL|10 season.

Strength: Top-order batting of Wade/McDermott

Weakness: Top-heavy bowling attack/lack of depth

Likely XI: Matthew Wade, D’arcy Short, Ben McDermott, Peter Handscomb, Tim David, Harry Brook, Caleb Jewell, Nathan Ellis, Scott Boland, Riley Meredith, Sandeep Lamichhane

Predicted BBL|11 finish: 5th 

MELBOURNE RENEGADES

BBL10 finish: 8th 

It was an extremely ordinary BBL|10 season for the Renegades, winning just four games and finishing in last spot on the ladder.

The form of Australian captain Aaron Finch was called into question on multiple occasions, and his recent performances in the T20 World Cup aren’t exactly instilling confidence either.

Shaun Marsh is a highly-reliable player in all three formats, and he will be integral both on and off the field with some younger batters in the Renegades squad.

Jake Fraser-McGurk and Mackenzie Harvey are exciting prospects and will only improve this year, while the in-form Nic Maddinson takes over the captaincy and will be looking to lead from the front.

The bowling attack of the Renegades is reasonable, but probably lacks that one T20 star who can change a game single-handedly. James Pattinson and Kane Richardson have been around for a long time though, and their experience and ability should be beneficial.

Given how poorly they performed last year and the huge question marks over their big-name star in Finch, it’s hard to see the Renegades improving too much – especially with the squads on offer from some other franchises.

Strength: Experienced bowling attack

Weakness: Major question marks over Aaron Finch/lack of big names

Likely XI: Aaron Finch, Shaun Marsh, Sam Harper, Nic Maddinson, Jake Fraser-McGurk, Mackenzie Harvey, Mohammad Nabi, Will Sutherland, Kane Richardson, Reece Topley, James Pattinson

Predicted BBL|11 finish: 8th 

MELBOURNE STARS

BBL|10 finish: 7th 

Massive underachievers last year – but that should mean the only way is up for the star-studded Melbourne outfit.

Stars remain a real top-heavy squad, with the three big names of Adam Zampa, Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis carrying the weight of the franchise on their collective shoulders.

What will be helpful for them is the fact that all three of those men are coming off a T20 World Cup victory, with Zampa the star and unlucky to not be named Player of the Tournament.

Looking at the rest of their squad, their batting is a slight concern. Outside of Maxwell and Stoinis, they will be looking for Joe Burns and Hilton Cartwright as their other big run-scorers, with not a whole lot of depth in that department.

As for the bowling, there is a solid mix of experience and youth. Qais Ahmad will join the side and bowl in tandem with the in-form Zampa, while seamers Nathan Coulter-Nile and Billy Stanlake will be required to perform well. 

Given the form and confidence that their three big names are bringing into the Big Bash this year, as well as a couple of handy signings in Burns and Ahmad, there should be an improvement from the Stars. 

Strength: Spin bowling/in-form stars

Weakness: Depth 

Likely XI: Marcus Stoinis, Joe Burns, Nick Larkin, Glenn Maxwell, Hilton Cartwright, Beau Webster, Seb Gotch, Qais Ahmad, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Adam Zampa, Billy Stanlake

Predicted BBL|11 finish: 4th 

PERTH SCORCHERS

BBL10 finish: 2nd

One of the most consistent franchises in BBL history, Scorchers were able to make it all the way to the final last season, before eventually falling to the red-hot Sixers.

After a decade of the competition, the side have won three finals and finished as runner-up on two other ocassions, making them the equal-most successful Big Bash team in history.

Perth are a star-studded outfit once again this year, with the man of the moment Mitchell Marsh set to line up for the side after his heroics in the T20 World Cup.

Marsh will be aided by fellow experienced batters in Colin Munro, Cameron Bancroft and Ashton Turner, who will all be expected to produce big scores at various stages of the season.

The bowling attack of the Scorchers is just as solid as their batting, with the likes of Jason Behrendoff, Ashton Agar and Andrew Tye leading the way, while they have acquired breakout spinner Peter Hatzoglou from the Renegades.

Perth’s main concern will be the availibilty of potential Test players Josh Inglis and Jhye Richardson, but even without those two men, they are still one of the strongest and most well-rounded BBL outfits. 

After failing to lift the trophy in BBL|10, Scorchers will be looking to go one better this year and there’s no reason why they can’t. 

Strength: Well-rounded and experienced squad

Weakness: Potential missing stars

Likely XI: Cameron Bancroft, Kurtis Patterson, Colin Munro, Mitchell Marsh, Josh Inglis, Ashton Turner, Aaron Hardie, Ashton Agar, Jhye Richardson, Jason Behrendoff, Andrew Tye

Predicted BBL|11 finish: 3rd

SYDNEY SIXERS

BBL|10 finish: 1st

The absolute benchmark of the competition, the reigning champions will be extremely hard to beat in BBL|11. 

After a dominant season, they have retained the majority of their title-winning squad and will welcome back Tom Curran after he missed last year. Chris Jordan will also join the Sixers for the first five games of the season. 

If you look at their batting lineup, it’s hard to find any holes. Josh Philippe, Daniel Hughes and James Vince at the top of the order is a scary sight for opposition bowlers, while their middle-order is just as strong with the likes of Moises Henriques, Jordan Silk and Dan Christian.

The bowling attack features a host of experienced Big Bash stars, headlined by Sean Abbott, Jackson Bird and Steve O’Keefe, who was outstanding last year and looks like he could play into his 40s at this stage. 

This is a side that is a very real chance of going back-to-back, and there won’t be too many experts tipping against the Sixers this season.

Strength: The whole squad

Weakness: TBA 

Likely XI: Josh Philippe, James Vince, Daniel Hughes, Moises Henriques, Jordan Silk, Dan Christian, Tom Curran, Sean Abbott, Chris Jordan, Steve O’Keefe, Jackson Bird

Predicted BBL|11 finish: 1st 

SYDNEY THUNDER

BBL|10 finish: 3rd 

A solid season in BBL|10 saw the Thunder finish in 3rd spot, but unfortunately fell out in ‘the knockout’ stage of the finals series against the Heat. Their squad has remained largely in-tact, and there is a lot to like about it from top to bottom. 

Alex Hales finished as the competition’s leading run-scorer last season, and will line up once again for the Thunder. Usman Khawaja will likely be unavailable however due to his potential Test commitments, while Callum Ferguson has retired. 

The class and experience of Sam Billings and Alex Ross in the batting lineup, combined with the power-hitting of Daniel Sams and Ben Cutting, makes the Thunder one of the most dangerous sides in the Big Bash. Unfortunately, young gun Oliver Davies will miss a large chunk of the tournament through injury. 

On the bowling side of things, spin twins Tanveer Sangha and Chris Green are the clear standouts, with the former taking 21 wickets last year and the latter an experienced T20 player around the world.

Pace-bowling up top shouldn’t be a huge issue either with Sams and English import Saqib Mahmood, but they perhaps lack a little bit of quality depth in that department. 

Making the finals is no longer a pass-mark for this side, and they really should be challenging for the title in BBL|11 – especially with the acquisition of Trevor Bayliss as head coach. 

Strength: Batting lineup

Weakness: Fast-bowling depth 

Likely XI: Alex Hales, Matt Gilkes, Sam Billings, Alex Ross, Baxter Holt, Daniel Sams, Ben Cutting, Chris Green, Brendan Doggett, Saqib Mahmood, Tanveer Sangha

Predicted BBL|11 finish: 2nd 

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