The Big Bash League will enter its ninth edition on the 17th of December in 2019 and will run until February 8th 2020, the day of the final. That means it’s time to start looking at a Big Bash League preview for the upcoming season.
As ever, eight teams will contest it, with the Melbourne Renegades as the defending champions after last year’s win against their cross-city rivals, the Melbourne Stars.
There’s been a change to the rules regarding the use of overseas players. Each team can still only field two in any given match, but they can now sign up to six non-Australian players over the course of the season, meaning there will be more comings and goings than in previous years.
An important detail this year is that Australia will be playing Test matches against New Zealand during the tournament, but not ODIs or T20Is. The significance of that is that Big Bash sides who boast Australian limited-overs players won’t lose them to national duty.
There’s also a change to the format of the latter stages of the tournament. The Big Bash has followed the Indian Premier League blueprint with the top two having two bites of the cherry at making the final, but (unlike in the IPL) the fifth-placed side now also make the Play-Offs, though like the fourth-placed side, they’d need to win three consecutive matches in order to get to the final.
Big Bash League Preview: Odds To Win This Season
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Big Bash League Teams For 2020
Aaron Finch’s dropping from the Test side is a huge boost to the Renegades. This will be the first season in years where they’ll have their opener and skipper available for the whole campaign. Joining him at the top of the order will be the classy Shaun Marsh, who they signed from the Perth Scorchers.
They’ve held on to Mohammad Nabi as one of their overseas players and signed English seamer Harry Gurney for the whole campaign this time round. It’s a smart move given his progress over the past couple of years; he’s now one of the best death bowlers in the world. They look pretty well-balanced, but winning again will be a big ask, says this Big Bash League preview.
In D’Arcy Short, they’ve got the top runscorer of the past two campaigns, but he’s unlikely to open alongside skipper Matthew Wade. Wade is now back in the Test side and is unlikely to feature much here. The uber-experienced George Bailey will probably fill in for Wade as captain, but they don’t have a natural replacement for him as an opener.
Another problem is that Jofra Archer probably won’t play either. Their chief strike bowler will either be playing for England or told to rest now that he has a central contract with his country. This Big Bash League preview believes that, whoever comes in for the World Cup star will have big boots to fill.
Travis Head, new signing Cameron White, Englishman Phil Salt and Alex Carey form a superb top four in the batting department, while international bowlers Peter Siddle and Billy Stanlake should be available given they’re unlikely to get called up to the Test side, which will help the Strikers’ cause.
The key man, however, is Rashid Khan. The Afghan leg-spinner is in charge of taking wickets in the middle overs and keeping the run rate down. Players are starting to realise how to play him a bit better now but he’s still a hard man to get away.
By signing South African Dale Steyn for the first six matches of the campaign, the Stars have the pace and spin departments well covered with Steyn being joined by brilliant Nepalese spinner Sandeep Lamichhane.
They’ll be out for revenge after losing last year’s final from a winning position. They’ll never come closer to winning their first-ever title than they did last February.
The Stars are one of the sides who will benefit from there not being any ODIs or T20IS played during the Big Bash, because it means that skipper Glenn Maxwell, keeper Peter Handscomb and all-rounder Marcus Stoinis will all be available for the full campaign. They’ll have to learn from last season’s mistakes, but theirs is a side packed with quality in all departments.
The Scorchers are the most successful side in BBL history, but last season was a disaster. The result was the exits of Shaun Marsh, Hilton Cartwright and Michael Klinger, the latter having decided to retire from Big Bash action.
In comes the experienced spinner Fawad Ahmed from the Sydney Thunder. This is a good move, given they haven’t had much in the way of spin over the past two seasons.
As ever, it’s their pace attack that’s their trump card with Jye Richardson, Jason Behrendoff and Andrew Tye capable of tearing batting line-ups apart in the right conditions. This is an important season of transition for the Scorchers.
The Sixers have gone the other way to the Scorchers and mostly kept their squad the same. Englishman James Vince is a slightly uninspired capture, given you can only play two overseas players. But he knows his own game well and is pretty consistent, so that’s clearly what the Sixers think-tank liked when signing him.
Sean Abbott is extremely reliable with the ball. He should dovetail nicely with Tom Curran, their other overseas player. They’re a well-drilled outfit, but may just be lacking a little star quality.
The biggest news of the whole Big Bash League off-season is that the Heat signed AB de Villiers, one of the sport’s biggest names. There’s a big ‘but’, though. He’ll only arrive for the second half of the season. If they start poorly, it may be too late for even him to save the day.
Until de Villiers arrives, it will be down to English star Tom Banton and Chris Lynn to score the bulk of the runs. But similar to previous seasons, they look a little light when it comes to their bowlers.
Callum Ferguson is the new skipper after Shane Watson’s retirement. He’ll be tasked with improving results, which haven’t been great over the last few years.
Left-handed batsman Usman Khawaja has the highest average of anyone in Big Bash history (over 50). However, after a poor Ashes campaign, he may be available to the Thunder. They’ll certainly need him. They’ll also need Chris Green at his best. He had an excellent tournament in the CPL this year and is a proper three-dimensional cricketer.
But it could be a long Big Bash League season for this lot unless their three or four key men really step up to the plate.