An unexpected setback has left the Melbourne Renegades without one of their biggest names for their KFC BBL semi-final on Friday night, but they have a former national captain to call on for their clash with the Sydney Sixers.
Both sides will field just one of their two allowable overseas players for the sudden-death match at Marvel Stadium; Renegades allrounder Mohammad Nabi and Sixers allrounder Tom Curran have both been called up by their national teams, their late departures this week leaving both franchises with little or no time to call on a replacement.
While the loss of Afghan Nabi is a huge blow in the Gades’ push for a first BBL title, they have the luxury of calling on veteran Cameron White – the competition’s fourth-highest run-scorer and a 47-time Australian T20 representative – to fill the gap.
Allrounders Beau Webster and Jack Wildermuth could also come into the side, but paceman Kane Richardson says it’s Nabi’s absence with the bat rather than the ball that will be felt the most.
“He hasn’t bowled as much this year as last year before so I think we can cover him there,” Richardson said of the Afghan veteran, who left Australia on the weekend.
“But his batting’s going to be tough to replace,
“Having that experience in the middle with Christo (Dan Christian) was huge, but Cameron White’s obviously sitting on the bench and Beau Webster’s done OK at times.”
Nabi bowled close to his full allotment of overs in his first stint with the Renegades last season, but has bowled an average of 2.2 overs per match in BBL|08.
White played nine of 14 games in the regular season, scoring more than 20 just twice, before he was squeezed out of the side following the returns of international openers Aaron Finch and Marcus Harris.
Fairfax has reported the Sixers had enquired about the possibility of bringing in Mitchell Starc or Josh Hazlewood to replace Curran before both quicks were sidelined by injury.
Off-spinner Ben Manenti, allrounder Jack Edwards or fast bowlers Mickey Edwards, Henry Thornton and Greg West are among the possible replacements for Curran on Friday night.
"The experience he has bowling at the death and under pressure will be the main thing we need to try and cover,” Sixers skipper Moises Henriques said of Curran earlier this week.
"Having him there, we weren't expecting him to contribute with the bat like he did. We've had the luxury of going in with probably one too many bowlers into a lot of games, which is a nice luxury to have.”
International replacement players must play a regular season game in order to be eligible to play finals, and the late exits of Nabi and Curran limited the chances both franchises had of finding a replacement.
Pakistan quick Usman Shinwari, who played the first half of the season for the Renegades before departing for international duty, has already committed to playing the Pakistan Super League and is not available to return.
Sixers allrounder Joe Denly, who played earlier in the season, is also unavailable for a return due to England selection.
Richardson has urged Renegades fans to come out in big numbers on Friday night for the franchise’s first home final in six years, the Northern Territory born South Australian having a cheeky jibe at his adopted city.
“Friday night in Melbourne, I’ve heard it’s the sporting capital of the world so it’ll be nice to see that in full effect,” the quick said with a grin.
“There’s no excuses. It’s a final and we haven’t had one since the second edition of the Big Bash so there’s no excuse not to come out.”