In a few short seasons, the success in every facet of the KFC Big Bash League (BBL) has been nothing short of remarkable, becoming one of the most exciting fixtures on the Australian sporting calendar, forever laying to rest the eternal line of the Cricket non-believer: ‘The Game is Boring’.
The BBL is anything but the b-word, with a super-charged experience on the ground and off it. With crowds pumping and teams providing great music, phenomenal fireworks, and unique boundary performances beyond the crease, fans are bedazzled no matter their age.
The BBL is the finest of cricket smashed up, repackaged and distributed in a fast, snappy and explosive three-hour block.
With 35 matches played over 40 days this summer, there is a match and time to suit everyone. Let’s look at what each team brings to the 2016-17 table.
Topping the league table last out, the Strikers failed to pounce in the finals, effortlessly bounced by an Usman Khawaja-inspired Sydney Thunder in their Semi-Final at a pumping Adelaide Oval.
Adelaide Strikers squad:
Travis Head, Brad Hodge, Jon Holland, Hamish Kingston, Tim Ludeman, Kieron Pollard, Adil Rashid, Kane Richardson, Craig Simmons, Kelvin Smith, Billy Stanlake
It’s been a tough start to this exciting competition with the Queenslanders, enduring a spluttering 2014-15 campaign, and a rough start to last year’s BBL. The Heat gathered momentum at the back-end of the season with a hat trick of consecutive wins featuring headline performances by Chris Lynn that left the side just short of playing finals.
Brisbane Heat squad:
Joe Burns, Ben Cutting, Alex Doolan, Andrew Fekete, Luke Feldman, Jason Floros, Josh Lalor, Chris Lynn, Brendon McCullum, Jimmy Peirson, Nathan Reardon, Alex Ross, Mark Steketee, Mitchell Swepson, Jack Wildermuth
One of the highlights of the BBL has been the performance of the Hurricanes, enjoying plenty of support inside the marvellously refurbished Blundstone Arena in the Tasmanian capital. The ‘Canes were one of a trio of sides with three wins last season, falling only two points outside the top four. The big-name signing of England star Stuart Broad, and retention of Sri Lankan keeper Kumar Sangakkara is a welcome boost for the summer ahead.
Hobart Hurricanes squad:
George Bailey, Cameron Boyce, Stuart Broad, Daniel Christian, Ben Dunk, Ben McDermott, Dominic Michael, Simon Milenko, Tim Paine, Sam Rainbird, Jake Reed, Clive Rose, Kumar Sangakkara, Shaun Tait, Jonathan Wells
Deliberately billed as the ‘team from the other side of the tracks’ playing at Etihad Stadium on the western side of the Melbourne CBD, the Renegades have flattered to deceive in the BBL thus far. Falling short of finals cricket in all five renditions of the competition, the Renegades will again look to local big names Peter Siddle, Cameron White and Aaron Finch amongst others to crack into a playoff spot.
Melbourne Renegades squad:
Tom Beaton, Tom Cooper, Xavier Doherty, Callum Ferguson, Aaron Finch, Marcus Harris, James Pattinson, Nathan Rimmington, Peter Siddle, Chris Tremain, Matthew Wade, Cameron White
The side that brings a little bling to the BBL has always been the Stars, based on the hallowed turf of the MCG. Reaching the finals in all five BBL seasons, the team has been notoriously jittery in the cut-throat finals, going down to Sydney Thunder in last year’s finals. With another star-studded line up (pun intended), expect the controversial but brilliant Kevin Pietersen to generate plenty of excitement and headlines on and off the field.
Melbourne Stars squad:
Michael Beer, Scott Boland, James Faulkner, Seb Gotch, Evan Gulbis, Peter Handscomb, Sam Harper, John Hastings, Ben Hilfenhaus, Glenn Maxwell, Kevin Pietersen, Rob Quiney, Marcus Stoinis, Tom Triffitt, Luke Wright, Adam Zampa
The benchmark in the BBL thus far, the Scorchers have featured in the post-season each year, including four of the five finals to date. Last season was the first time the side has lost a semi-final, falling to the Melbourne Stars at the MCG, so expect a reaction from Mitchell Johnson, Adam Voges and Co.
Perth Scorchers squad:
Ashton Agar, Cameron Bancroft, Jason Behrendorff, Ian Bell, Hilton Cartwright, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Mitchell Johnson, Michael Klinger, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, James Muirhead, Joel Paris, Jhye Richardson, Ashton Turner, Andrew Tye, Adam Voges, Sam Whiteman, David Willey
Lifting the first trophy in 2011-12, the Sixers again reached the final in 2014-15, but endured a flat campaign last season, winning only twice en route to the wooden spoon. The side that inhabits the historic confines of the SCG will look to the likes of Brad Haddin, Nathan Lyon and Mitchell Starc to reignite their title ambitions.
Sydney Sixers squad:
Sean Abbott, Jackson Bird, Johan Botha, Ryan Carters, Ben Dwarshuis, Brad Haddin, Josh Hazlewood, Moises Henriques, Nathan Lyon, Nic Maddinson, Steve O’Keefe, Jordan Silk, Mitchell Starc
Traditionally chained to the lower rungs of the league, the Thunder experienced a campaign to remember in 2015-16, with Usman Khawaja, Michael Hussey, Jacques Kallis, Shane Watson and Andre Russell steering the team from Sydney’s west to silverware. After five seasons at the cavernous ANZ Stadium, the club moves next door to the more fan-friendly surrounds of Spotless Stadium, ensuring a more boutique and personal fan experience.
Sydney Thunder squad:
Pat Cummins, Jake Doran, Fawad Ahmed, Ryan Gibson, Chris Hartley, Usman Khawaja, Alister McDermott, Clint McKay, Kurtis Patterson, Ben Rohrer, Gurinder Sandhu, Shane Watson