Squad: Michael Beer, Scott Boland, Jackson Coleman, Ben Dunk, James Faulkner, Seb Gotch, Evan Gulbis, Peter Handscomb, Sam Harper, John Hastings (c), Ben Hilfenhaus, Glenn Maxwell, Kevin Pietersen (ENG), Rob Quiney, Marcus Stoinis, Dan Worrall, Luke Wright (ENG), Adam Zampa.
Ins: Jackson Coleman (upgrade), Ben Dunk (Strikers)
Outs: David Hussey (retired), Tom Triffitt
Master blaster: When you think of T20 fireworks you think of Glen Maxwell ($93,800). Maxwell has had a break-out year against the red ball, scoring a Test ton in India, but was last batter out from the Magellan Ashes series. That personal blow to Maxwell proved a boon for the Victorian Bushrangers, with Maxwell peeling off 278 and 96 in the JLT Sheffield Shield before the Big Bash break so you know he's seeing them well. Maxwell is the Shield's leading run-scorer entering the break, but will undoubtedly be involved in the Gillette ODI and T20 trans-Tasman series, so a late-season trade would give some serious salary cap room to pick a performing player.
Strike weapon: The Melbourne Stars have never been shy of making a splash with a big name signing and they've done it again this year, luring last season's leading run-scorer Ben Dunk ($105,700) over from the Adelaide Strikers. A big contract brings big expectations and he'll be very eager to impress. Dunk's ability is reflected in his price tag – he's the most expensive on the Stars roster, and the fifth overall in the league. But Dunk is no stranger to fitting into a new team – he made the move from Hobart to Adelaide with consummate ease and dominated from the outset there, so there's no reason he won't do the same. It could cause a disruption in the Stars' line-up though, with Dunk at his best as an opening batsman. It seems unlikely they'd move Luke Wright from opening given he's one of the most consistent internationals in the competition, which likely means Rob Quiney ($81,000) is moved to No.3, or possibly benched.
Young gun: A big strapping left-arm quick, Jackson Coleman ($20,000) could make some waves this year. If we've learnt anything from the elite level in recent years, it's that teams love a left-armer spearing in the yorkers. He gave a glimpse of why he's so highly rated in this year's JLT One-Day Cup, snaring 4-46 in 10 overs against South Australia.
Overseas impact: Either way, you can't go wrong with the options for the Melbourne Stars. Former England batsman Kevin Pietersen ($62,800) comes with a higher price tag so Luke Wright ($54,600) may be more attractive to bargain hunters. But either way you're getting a proven performer and sure-fire value for money.
Surprise packet: Once first name on the team sheet, James Faulkner ($62,000) has fallen out of favour in the Australian limited-overs set-up in recent times, which is good news for the Melbourne Stars and astute Fantasy buyers. With a host of seam-bowling allrounder talent at Australia's disposal if fully fit – names like Marsh, Stoinis, Cartwright – it's not inconceivable Faulkner could be with the Stars for the entire season.
Fantasy bargain: The international-calibre Peter Handscomb ($33,300) could find himself playing more Big Bash games than you might expect following a lean run in the opening two Tests of the Magellan Ashes series. The Big Bash could be just the thing to help him free up and rediscover his love for the game. At just $33k he's exceptional value and will likely have plenty of opportunity in the middle order, and he is also a good chance to take the gloves in the 20-over format.