Gun imports set to ignite Big Bash
The Calypso flavour that has dominated recent years of the Big Bash League will be replaced by English and South African imports this summer.
The likes of Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard have been replaced by AB De Villiers, Dale Steyn and Alex Hales.
In what has been one of the most active off-seasons in BBL history, former South African skipper De Villiers is the marquee signing after committing to Brisbane Heat for six regular-season games and finals.
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Tom Curran, Rashid Khan, Sandeep Lamichhane are all set to star.Source:Supplied
Pace spearhead Steyn has joined Melbourne Stars, who will also have Nepalese spin sensation Sandeep Lamichhane in their ranks for a second year.
Englishmen Phil Salt (Adelaide Strikers) and Tom Banton will arrive in Australia after eye-catching Vitality Blast campaigns, while compatriots James Vince and Tom Curran will feature in magenta again for Sydney Sixers.
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Curran was one of the leading SuperCoach BBL selections of 2018-19, snaring 20 wickets in 14 games and contributing 185 runs.
Experienced all-rounder Chris Morris is another new face, the South African all-rounder signing with Sydney Thunder alongside Alex Hales.
Few players have ignited the BBL like Afghanistan star Rashid Khan in recent summers, while compatriots Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Zahir Khan and Qaid Ahmad have quickly developed reputations as the rising stars of T20 cricket.
Harry Gurney and Mohammad Nabi will return for reigning BBL champions Melbourne Renegades, while Perth Scorchers are yet to announce their overseas signings after having David Willey and Usman Qadir in their squad last season.
Tom Curran enjoyed a superb first season at Sydney Sixers which made him the top international in SuperCoach BBL.Source:Getty Images
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A swashbuckling batsman, the Strikers have signed Salt to fill the void left in their top order by South African Colin Ingram. The 23-year-old opened for Sussex in the Vitality Blast, although Jake Weatherald and Alex Carey have filled those roles for Adelaide. Salt looms as a No. 3 batsman and opener when Carey is on international duty.
Khan was the seventh leading points scorer in SuperCoach BBL last season with 989 points from 14 games at an average of 70.6. His ability to strangle opposition batsmen and accumulate economy points makes him a ‘must-have’, especially when Adelaide has a double game round. Khan had the best economy rate (6.14 runs per over) of any player with more than 15 wickets in the BBL last season.
Only seven players finished 2018-19 with a SuperCoach BBL price in excess of $200,000, headed by Marcus Stoinis ($265,600). De Villiers will command a high price, but his Twenty20 record is near impossible to ignore. He averaged just under 70 in England’s Vitality Blast this year with a strike rate of 182 and has an average of 40 with a strike rate of 151 from 154 Indian Premier League games.
Mujeeb had the best economy rate of any bowler with more than 10 wickets in BBL08 (6.04), a statistic made more impressive by his role bowling in the power play. He averaged one wicket per game, however his low economy rate guaranteed SuperCoach points for his owners. He’ll share spin duties with Zahir Khan, so keep a close eye on Darren Lehmann’s team selection.
A second Afghan spin signing for Brisbane, left-arm tweaker Khan has gained T20 experience playing in the Carbbiean Premier League and England’s Vitality Blast. He took eight wickets from seven games in the West Indian tournament, but has a career average of 19.5 and economy rate of 7.1 from 36 T20s. He’s definitely worth consideration with the success spinners have enjoyed in the BBL.
Top-order batsman Banton will feature in the opening eight games of BBL09 before being replaced by AB De Villiers. He has marked himself as one of the rising stars of English cricket, clubbing 549 runs at 42 with a strike rate of 161 in the Vitality Blast. Only Pakistan star Babar Azam scored more runs than Banton in the English T20 tournament and he’s primed to replace Brendon McCullum at the top of the Heat batting line-up.
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Archer has become a household name in the past two seasons with Hobart Hurricanes, although his emergence as an international star will come at a price for the BBL. With Engand due to tour South Africa and Archer a certainty to be in the Test and short-form squads, expect the lethal quick to be replaced in the Hurricanes squad by another overseas player.
What a late-season impact Afghan spinner Qais Ahmad had on the BBL last season. Coaches who sensed a bargain when he was added to SuperCoach BBL with a price of just $62,500 were rewarded when he averaged 82 points per game during a short stint with the Hurricanes. He’s back in Hobart with a more permanent deal and will have a prominent role to play.
Harry Gurney is becoming one of the ultimate Twenty20 journeymen. A left-arm seamer with a host of tricks and renowned for his precision at the death, the Englishman was solid without being spectacular after replacing Pakistani speedster Usman Khan Shinwari midway through BBL08. Gurney will come into BBL09 in superb form after collecting 22 wickets in 12 games in the Vitality Blast and 13 scalps from eight matches in the Caribbean. Just don’t expect batting or fielding points from him.
The Afghanistan all-rounder was somewhat of a SuperCoach BBL tease last season. He managed 228 runs at 22.8 and eight wickets, but was deployed too low in the batting line-up for much of the tournament to amass the scores his starting price demanded. His average of 51.9 was respectable but was largely due to three scores of 102+. Nabi also produced five scores of 34 or less.
Lamichhane was a revelation during his debut campaign for the Stars with 11 wickets in seven games and an economy rate of less than seven runs per over. Players who exclusively bowl are sometimes fraught with danger in SuperCoach. While he scored two tons in seven games, Lamichhane also posted a nine, 35 and 36. He should definitely be on your watch list.
South African legend Steyn is an experienced T20 bowler, with 96 wickets and an economy rate of only 6.76 from 92 Indian Premier League matches. He only played two games in the IPL this year but showed how potent he can be with four scalps and a wicket every two overs he thundered in for on average. Top dollar is usually reserved for all-rounders in SuperCoach BBL but Steyn will be expensive with good reason.
To be announced
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James Vince was head and shoulders above the other batsmen for the Sixers last summer, averaging 44.83 with a strike rate of 136.5 batting in the top order. He also averaged above 40 in the Vitality Blast, but it is his proven record on Australian soil in T20 cricket which is encouraging. The risk attached to picking players who only bat should be obvious. Vince scored 114 and 108 in successive games in 2018-19 but also had three scores under 18. The coaches who prosper have a knack of trading the top scorers in when they fire.
Tom Curran was the topscoring international in BBL08 with 1022 points from 14 matches. His role with the Sixers was very SuperCoach-friendly. Bowling with the new ball and in the death overs increased his likelihood of taking wickets and several early collapses enabled him to accumulate more batting points than expected. His ceiling is monstrous — he amassed 203 and 154 in consecutive games last year. That’s 714 points if you chose to captain him in those rounds!
South African all-rounder Chris Morris will add 182 games of Twenty20 experience to the Thunder squad. His career statistics in the format are promising — a batting average of 22.3, strike rate of 149 and a bowling average of 22. He should be an important bowler for the Thunder, but you want to know what his role in the batting line-up will be before committing to him. If he’s listed at No. 6 or lower, there will be better all-round picks.
Hales has signed with his fourth BBL franchise after stints with Melbourne Renegades, Adelaide Strikers and Hobart Hurricanes. The powerful Englishman hasn’t enjoyed much success in the BBL, only passing 50 once in 14 innings. However, there is no questioning his career averages of 31 from 60 T20 internationals and 29 from 228 overall T20 games. You’ll want Hales in your team when Sydney Thunder have the double game week as he’s capable of big things.
Originally published asGun imports set to ignite Big Bash