The summer of cricket is steadily approaching, and KFC BBL teams are getting closer to finalising their playing lists ahead of the beginning of competition on December 19.
As they search for the winning formula, clubs will have more money to play with in BBL|08. The extended season means the total salary cap for all clubs has risen from $1.6m to 1.77m, with this figure set to increase again in BBL|09.
Teams will once again feature two overseas players, however now have the flexibility to apply for a replacement player for reasons extending beyond injury or international duties.
Below are the current BBL|08 squads, as it stands on Tuesday 23 October:
Roster spots to fill: two, internationals signed: two
In: Matt Short (Renegades)
If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
The reigning Big Bash champions are looking to keep a winning formula in BBL|08, with minimal changes to the side which secured an inaugural title last season. As it stands, every key member of the squad will return, with only Jono Dean and Daniel Drew uncontracted as the season approaches.
A rising star returns to the Strikers in Afghan spin sensation Rashid Khan. Somewhat of an unknown last year, the 20-year-old re-wrote the Big Bash record books with a remarkable 18 wickets at an average of 13.83. Rashid returns in BBL|08 with a maiden Test cap under his belt, as well as appearances for six different domestic T20 franchises around the world. The most notable was a run with the Sunrisers Hyderabad which resulted in 21 wickets and four player-of-the-match performances.
While Rashid bamboozled opposition batsmen during his last summer in Australia, Ben Laughlin added constant wickets, and Alex Carey, Travis Head and Jake Weatherald all found themselves among the BBL's top five run scorers. Two of the three batsmen have found valuable international experience in the time since. Carey enters BBL|08 as Australia's T20I vice-captain, while Head recently made his Test debut against Pakistan in the UAE.
Adelaide's only current inclusion - Matt Short - joins Peter Siddle and Nick Winter as former Melbourne Renegades now calling the Adelaide Oval home. Short showed his prowess as an opener with 62 off 48 balls in the 'Gades final home and away fixture last season and may be eyeing off a top order spot occasionally occupied by Dean in BBL|07.
Current squad: Wes Agar, Alex Carey, Michael Cormack, David Grant, Colin Ingram (SA), Rashid Khan (AFG), Ben Laughlin, Jake Lehmann, Michael Neser, Liam O'Connor, Peter Siddle, Matt Short, Billy Stanlake, Jake Weatherald, Jon Wells, Nick Winter.
Roster spots to fill: two, internationals signed: two
In: James Pattinson (Renegades), Jack Prestwidge (upgrade), Mujeeb Ur Rahman (Afghanistan).
Out: Shadab Khan (Pakistan).
A hot start is imperative for the Brisbane Heat, after losing their last four games in BBL|07 and missing out on a finals berth. Returning coach Daniel Vettori retains most of his squad in BBL|08, notably led by the formidable duo of Brendon McCullum and master blaster Chris Lynn.
The Bash Brothers' explosive hitting will draw crowds to the Gabba, but could teenager Max Bryant keep them on the edge of their seats? The 19-year-old from the Gold Coast scored the fastest ever one-day 50 for Queensland in September's JLT Cup, and admitted his approach to batting growing up was to simply "hit the ball as hard as I could".
Bryant won't even be the freshest face on the Heat's roster. At 17 years of age, Mujeeb Ur Rahman has surpassed Jake Doran as the youngest player ever signed to a full BBL contract. It won't be a foreign feeling for the Afghan teenager either. He was the youngest IPL signing in history when bought by the Kings XI Punjab this season and is also the first player born in the 21st century to play international cricket. As Mujeeb continues to break records, he also has the potential to break the spirits of opposition batsmen. The crafty off-spinner took 14 wickets in the IPL, including that of Indian star Virat Kohli.
From a local perspective, Brendan Doggett, Marnus Labuschagne, Matt Renshaw and Mitch Swepson have all spent time in various Australian camps since their last Big Bash appearances, while a host of others have plied their T20 trade throughout the subcontinent.
Brisbane's fast bowling stocks have also been bolstered in BBL|08 with the arrival of veteran James Pattinson and emergence of 24-year-old Brendan Doggett. The latter has been rapidly making his mark on domestic cricket in recent years, before earning recognition with a spot in Australia's Test squad for October's series against Pakistan in the UAE. When Brett Lee says a bowler has "pace to burn", it's worth taking note and watching with interest.
Current squad: Max Bryant, Joe Burns, Ben Cutting, Brendan Doggett, Sam Heazlett, Marnus Labuschagne, Chris Lynn, Brendon McCullum (NZ), James Pattinson, James Peirson, Jack Prestwidge, Matt Renshaw, Alex Ross, Mujeeb Ur Rahman (AFG), Mark Steketee, Mitch Swepson.
Roster spots to fill: two, internationals signed: two
In: Jake Doran, James Faulkner (Stars), Caleb Jewell
Out: Cameron Boyce (Renegades), Dan Christian (Renegades)
After coming to close to a maiden Big Bash title, the Hobart Hurricanes have kept the majority of their list intact ahead of BBL|08.
They didn't need to go far to find a new coach to lead the side. Tasmanian state team leader Adam Griffith was promoted from Hurricanes senior assistant to replace the resigning Gary Kirsten in July. Few coaches will know their squad better than Griffith, who has nine of 12 local players representing Tasmania in Shield and one-day cricket in 2018.
Arguably the best player on the roster, however, will once again cross the country to pull on the purple. No player was more explosive than D'Arcy Short in BBL|07, and the 28-year-old shows no signs of slowing down. Batting for Western Australia in the recent JLT Cup, Short belted the highest one-day score ever recorded by an Australian male. A knock of 257 included 23 sixes, as tongues were set wagging for more explosive hitting in the upcoming Big Bash.
The English import duo of Jofra Archer and Tymal Mills also return to the Hurricanes after a productive winter of cricket. The pair appeared inseparable in the UK, both representing Sussex in the T20 Blast, and both taking hat-tricks against Middlesex and Glamorgan respectively.
The big inclusion for the Hurricanes is a local prospect who has solidified his links with Tasmania by staying home in the Big Bash for the first time. James Faulkner is fully fit and should slot straight into the starting XI. The allrounder scored 239 runs at 39 for the Melbourne Stars last season, while also adding seven wickets with his medium pacers.
The Hurricanes will bat deep, have several bowling options and will arguably be one of the key contenders again in BBL|08.
Current squad: Jofra Archer (ENG), George Bailey, Johan Botha, Jake Doran, James Faulkner, Caleb Jewell, Ben McDermott, Riley Meredith, Simon Milenko, Tymal Mills (ENG), David Moody, Tim Paine, Tom Rogers, Clive Rose, D'Arcy Short, Matthew Wade.
Roster spots to fill: two, internationals signed: zero
In: Cameron Boyce (Hurricanes), Dan Christian (Hurricanes), Zak Evans, Mackenzie Harvey, Will Sutherland (rookie)
Out: Brad Hodge (retired), James Pattinson (Heat), Matt Short (Strikers), Guy Walker (AFL - Melbourne FC).
Two spots remain on the Renegades list. They're two spots which could completely shape the Melbourne side's entire Big Bash campaign.
The 'Gades are two imports short as they prepare for a BBL season which will many will hope goes beyond a Semi Final exit in BBL|07. It remains unsure whether West Indian duo Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo will return, with a heavy summer of international cricket scheduled. The pair are proven performers, as was Mohammad Nabi, who was replaced by Pollard at the midway point of BBL|07. This year's overseas players will no doubt soon be revealed to round out a polished Renegades roster.
Just as coach Andrew McDonald and his team seemingly targeted the Adelaide Strikers ahead of BBL|07, the Renegades have pinched two key members of the Hobart Hurricanes this time around. Cameron Boyce and Dan Christian have both represented Australia in limited-overs cricket and will swap their purple for red when the new season arrives.
It continues a list strategy which positions the Renegades as the 'Moneyball'-style team of the Big Bash. Thirteen of 16 listed players have all spent time on other BBL rosters, with only captain Aaron Finch having been at the club since the competition was founded in 2011.
Zak Evans, Mackenzie Harvey and Will Sutherland are the new faces of the Renegades. Each have been upgraded from their rookie contracts, however the latter has already been ruled out for part of the season with stress fractures in his back uncovered during September's JLT Cup.
Stay tuned to see which overseas players the 'Gades can land to complete their roster in the coming weeks.
Current squad: Cameron Boyce, Tom Cooper, Dan Christian, Zak Evans, Aaron Finch, Marcus Harris, Mackenzie Harvey, Jon Holland, Tim Ludeman, Kane Richardson, Joe Mennie, Will Sutherland, Chris Tremain, Beau Webster, Cameron White, Jack Wildermuth.
Roster spots to fill: six, internationals signed: one, plus one replacement
In: Travis Dean (Renegades), Nic Maddinson (Sixers), Sandeep Lamichhane (Nepal), Matt Parkinson (England)
Out: James Faulkner (Hurricanes), John Hastings (Sixers), Kevin Pietersen (retired), Rob Quiney (retired), Luke Wright
The Stars are a long way from finalising their roster after a season to forget in BBL|07. The signings will no doubt come thick and fast in the coming weeks as coach Stephen Fleming looks to improve on a two-win campaign which left the Stars last on the BBL ladder.
Not helping the cause are several departures from last year's team. International Kevin Pietersen and local favourite Rob Quiney have opted to retire, while fellow Englishman Luke Wright announced last January he wouldn't return to the team he has been a key member of since the formation of the Big Bash in 2011.
With these three loses, the Stars top order will have a completely new look in BBL|08. Ben Dunk will look to resume his position as an opener, however the Stars are yet to receive the signature of Peter Handscomb, who joined Dunk at the crease on a number of occasions last season. Nic Maddinson is a top-order option, with the former Australian representative registering scores of 62, 17* and 61 to finish his time with the Sydney Sixers last season. Surprisingly, Maddinson was not offered a new New South Wales state contract and has completed his transition to Victoria by signing a three-year deal with the Stars.
Two other new faces in green will be experiencing their first taste of Big Bash action. The Stars on Tuesday 23 October announced the signings of 18-year-old Sandeep Lamichhane and 21-year-old Matt Parkinson. Both are crafty leg spinners, with Englishman Parkinson set to replace Lamichhane when he briefly departs to take part in the Bangladesh Premier League in January.
The biggest hole currently remaining in Melbourne's squad is a quality allrounder to complement the recently re-signed Marcus Stoinis. James Faulkner has departed for the Hobart Hurricanes, while veteran John Hastings signed with the Sixers before revealing a health problem which will keep him away from cricket indefinitely. The Stars have enough free roster spots to look domestically for suitable replacements and can also sign another big name import to fill the shoes of Pietersen and Wright.
Current squad: Michael Beer, Scott Boland, Jackson Coleman, Travis Dean, Ben Dunk, Seb Gotch, Sandeep Lamichhane, Nic Maddinson, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Daniel Worrall, Adam Zampa, Matt Parkinson (ENG, *international replacement).
Roster spots to fill: none, internationals signed: two
In: Matthew Kelly (local replacement last season)
Out: Mitchell Johnson (retired), Adam Voges (retired)
A model of stability is perhaps the best way to describe the list management approach of the Perth Scorchers. Players are local, committed and familiar with their surroundings as a relatively unchanged roster prepares for BBL|08.
The biggest changes don't even appear daunting. Adam Voges will make the transition from Scorchers player to Scorchers coach as he takes over from new national team leader Justin Langer. He'll have the services of 17 former teammates, 15 of which he also coaches for Western Australia in Shield and one-day cricket. Usman Qadir appears well settled in WA and will combine with Ashton Agar and Ashton Turner as spin options, while David Willey will return after a strong campaign in BBL|07. The Englishman hit Nathan Lyon for 34 off an over in the Prime Minister’s XI clash after leaving the Scorchers due to an international call-up. He possesses some serious hitting power.
Mitchell Johnson won't return to the Big Bash after his retirement, but leaves the fast bowling stocks in good hands with Andrew Tye, Jhye Richardson, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Matthew Kelly and Jason Behrendorff all ready to return and take a share of the workload. The Scorchers were hit by injury troubles last season and will hope the names listed above stay fit and available through the back-end of the season.
The only other change to the Scorchers in BBL|08? The home turf. Optus Stadium will become a permanent home this season, after saying goodbye to the WACA last season. 52,960 people attended the team's Semi Final win at the new stadium in February, with crowds expected to flock again in the season ahead.
Current squad: Ashton Agar, Cameron Bancroft, Jason Behrendorff, Hilton Cartwright, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Cameron Green, Josh Inglis, Matthew Kelly, Michael Klinger, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Joel Paris, Usman Qadir (PAK), Jhye Richardson, Ashton Turner, Andrew Tye, Sam Whiteman, David Willey (ENG).
Roster spots to fill: seven, internationals signed: one
In: John Hastings* (Stars), Jack Edwards (promoted)
Out: Johan Botha (Hurricanes), Doug Bollinger (retired), Nic Maddinson (Stars)
*John Hastings has since declared himself unavailable to compete in BBL|08, due to an unresolved medical condition. CLICK HERE for more information.
Like the Melbourne Stars, the Sixers are yet to partake in the player signing efforts which they will hope propel the side to greater heights in BBL|08.
Three Big Bash veterans will no longer wear magenta. Doug Bollinger has retired, South African Johan Botha has moved South to play for the Hurricanes, while Nic Maddinson has moved to Victoria to play for the Stars. John Hastings was supposed to be on the incoming end from the green team, but won't take part in the competition, with health scares forcing him away from cricket indefinitely.
Englishman Joe Denly impressed enough in his four games as a replacement for Jason Roy last season to be offered a full contract this season, with another import set to join him when squads are finalised.
Expect excitement to come via a pair of blonde-haired brothers who have already captured the attention of the NSW cricketing community. Super-sub Mickey Edwards is now more than just the cult hero who fielded during the Sydney Test in 2016, while brother Jack will also be a fully-fledged Sixer in BBL|08. At just 18 years old, Jack has aspirations to open the batting - a claim justified by an incredible 116 from 112 balls for NSW in the JLT Cup in September.
The Sixers have a mix of youth and experience, plus the flexibility to still find new talent before their first game against the Scorchers on December 22.
Current squad: Sean Abbott, Joe Denly (ENG), Ben Dwarshuis, Jack Edwards, Mickey Edwards, John Hastings, Moises Henriques, Daniel Hughes, Nathan Lyon, Peter Nevill, Steve O'Keefe, Henry Thornton.
Roster spots to fill: five, internationals signed: two
In: Joe Root (England), Daniel Sams (Sixers), Nathan McAndrew (promoted)
Out: Aiden Blizzard (retired), Ben Rohrer (retired)
Unsigned from BBL|07: Arjun Nair, Gurinder Sandhu, Jason Sangha, Mitch McClenaghan, Clint McKay, Andrew Fekete
Calling the Barmy Army to Greater Western Sydney!
The English captain and vice-captain will call NSW home this summer when Joe Root and Jos Buttler don the Thunder green. The former's signing is potentially one of the biggest in Big Bash history. Root is widely renowned as one of the best batsmen in the world, and comes with a point to prove after going unsold in the IPL auction and being left out of England's T20 side in June.
Buttler on the other hand is highly favoured in the short form of the game. He torched Australia in ODIs and T20Is after leaving the Thunder last year, before finding more form with the Rajasthan Royals in India. Both have the ability to score freely and will look to impress before seemingly inevitable international selection comes.
Another player who impressed in the subcontinent recently was Shane Watson. Age proved no barrier for the 37-year-old allrounder, as he posted not one, but TWO centuries for the Chennai Super Kings in the IPL. The second was an emphatic 117* from 57 balls in the series final, as the Super Kings claimed their third IPL title. Watson scored more runs than any of his teammates in BBL|07 and returns to a new two-year contract with the Thunder still in impressive form.
Neither Aiden Blizzard or Ben Rohrer will return to the Thunder after their respective retirements, with Clint McKay seemingly taking the same path. Filling one of these spots is Daniel Sams, a 25-year-old who burst onto the BBL scene with 4-14 in his Sydney Sixers debut last season. Sams was originally a member of the Thunder Academy and returns to the cross-town rivals in BBL|08.
Busy times ahead for the Thunder, who not only have six roster spots to fill, but will also be on the lookout for potential international replacements for Root and Buttler should they depart midway through the season.
Current squad: Fawad Ahmed, Jos Buttler (ENG), Pat Cummins, Callum Ferguson, Ryan Gibson, Chris Green, Usman Khawaja, Jay Lenton, Kurtis Patterson, Joe Root (ENG), Daniel Sams, Shane Watson, Nathan McAndrew