Big Bash 2020/21 Preview: Sixers Defend Title As Other Sides Strengthen

Updated: Dec 9, 2020



After a year of inconsistent cricket entertainment, Australia's Big Bash returns this week and is expected to provide exciting, thrilling entertainment and a high level of performance. Sydney Sixers are set to defend their crown but will face plenty of tough competition from sides who have improved squads, thanks to smart signings. This season is also the first that will see an extra overseas player being allowed into an XI and some of the best players in the world are set to be on show, once again. So, how are the teams shaping up? Here is a preview of each side ahead of BBL 10.


Adelaide Strikers


The Strikers had an impressive campaign in 2019/20, finishing third before being beaten by the Sydney Thunder in the knockout rounds. Their squad looks thinner than in previous seasons, particularly in the batting department, especially given that captain and star player Travis Head will miss a chunk of the season due to international commitments.


They do, however, possess a solid bowling attack, featuring the likes of Rashid Khan, Michael Neser, Peter Siddle which gives them variety at all stages of the innings.


Key Man: Rashid Khan




With his relentless accuracy, sharp variations, and growing experience, Rashid Khan is one of the most in-demand T20 players in the world, so it is impressive that Adelaide have managed to secure his services for a fourth successive season. No bowler with over 50 wickets in the Big Bash has a better average than the leg-spinner’s 17.66 or a lower economy rate than his 6.36. The Afghanistan international also had a strong 2019/20 campaign, taking 19 wickets at 20.84, and the Strikers will be relying on his brilliance leading their attack.


Watch Out For: Phil Salt


An aggressive opening batsman with a wide hitting range, Salt earned his reputation in the Vitality Blast with a series of blistering knocks. In his short career so far, has proven to be inconsistent but, when firing, a player who can make a difference. Despite averaging only 26.37 in the Blast last summer, his strike rate of 167.46 was the fourth-best of any player with over 200 runs in the competition. It was a similar story during his debut season in the Big Bash in 2019/20, where he averaged only 25.78 but was striking at 164.09 – no one with over 360 runs had higher. If Salt can get the Strikers off to good starts in the powerplay, it should take the pressure off their fragile middle-order.


Squad:

T. Head ©, J. Weatherald, A. Carey (wk), J. Wells, M. Renshaw, M. Short, H. Nielsen (wk), C. Valente, M. Neser, P. Siddle, D. Worrall. W. Agar, H. Conway, L. O’Connor. R. Gibson. S. Johnson, L. Scott


Overseas: P. Salt, R. Khan, D. Briggs



Brisbane Heat



One of the tournament’s least successful teams, the Heat endured another disappointing campaign in 2019/20, finishing seventh with just 12 points. Nevertheless, their squad possesses plenty of quality. Chris Lynn and Max Bryant form an exciting top order, while Joe Burns, Marnus Labuschagne, Tom Cooper, and Jimmy Peirson provide composure and experience to a brittle middle-order which is also boosted by the arrival of Englishmen, Dan Lawrence, and Lewis Gregory.


Brisbane’s seam bowling attack is a strong one, featuring the likes of Morne Morkel (as a local player), Gregory, Ben Laughlin, Mark Steketee, and Jake Wildermuth. They also possess two top-class spinners in Mujeeb Ur-Rahman and Mitchell Swepson, who offer both off-spin and leg-spin options. Thanks to some smart recruitment, the Heat will back their chances of going further in the competition this season.


Key Man: Chris Lynn


Big-hitting Lynn is one of the greatest batsmen in the history of the Big Bash, with no batsman making more than his 2332 runs in the competition, with no player with over 800 runs having a better strike rate than his 150.36, either. The 30-year-old is also streets ahead when it comes to the number of sixes (146), with the next highest being Glenn Maxwell with 80. Lynn has floated between the opening and No. 3 positions in recent years but his effect remains the same. The Heat will badly need big runs from their skipper if they are to have any chance of reaching the knockout stages of the competition this season.


Watch Out For: Mitchell Swepson


Despite showing plenty of promise, Swepson’s career has been synonymous with that of a player who can’t quite reach the next level. However, he has started this season on fire, taking 23 wickets in just three matches for Queensland in the Sheffield Shield, before topping the wicket-takers list (5) for Australia in their recent T20I series against India, including 3-23 in the final match. Heat will hope the leg-spinner can take his excellent form and lead their attack in the middle overs in BBL 10.


Squad:

C. Lynn ©, M. Bryant, J. Burns, M. Labuschagne, T. Cooper, M. Kuhnemann, J. Peirson (wk), J. Wildermuth, M. Morkel, M. Swepson, B. Laughlin, S. Heazlett, M. Steketee. J. Bazley, X. Bartlett, M. Williams


Overseas: D. Lawrence, L. Gregory, Mujeeb Ur-Rahman


Replacement Players: J. Sinfield



Hobart Hurricanes


Similar to the Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League, Hurricanes are usually deemed as the ‘underdogs’ of the competition, but usually put out strong showings despite not having a title to show for it. This season, they have packed their batting lineup with the arrivals of Dawid Malan, Colin Ingram, Peter Handscomb, and Will Jacks, which offers them a strong blend of composure and explosiveness.


Their bowling attack looks to be one of the weakest in the competition, especially with the future of Jofra Archer still undecided. Much will depend on the canny James Faulkner, the experienced Scott Boland, and the promising but inexperienced duo of Riley Meredith and Nathan Ellis to back up the work of their exciting and powerful batting lineup.


Key Man: D’Arcy Short


Short is one of the Big Bash’s most successful batsmen ever, with only six players making more than his 1764, while no player with over 800 runs in the competition bettering his average of 46.42. Despite playing just nine matches last year, the left-hander made 357 runs at 44.62, including an unbeaten 103 against the Perth Scorchers. Short possesses terrific power and clean striking ability which more often than not gives his side a fast start. And with Matthew Wade expected to miss a number of games due to international commitments, the importance of Short to deliver once again could not be greater.


Watch Out For: Dawid Malan


The world’s highest-ranked T20 international batsman, Malan was the Hurricanes’ first recruit and is expected to be key to getting his new side plenty of big totals. The 33-year-old has earned a reputation as a consistent run-scorer from his usual position of No.3 at this level and is very versatile when it comes to anchoring an innings or upping the scoring rate. His addition adds great experience and class to a seemingly stronger Hurricanes batting line up.


Squad:

M. Wade © (wk), D. Short, B. McDermott, P. Handscomb, T. Paine (wk), J. Faulkner, R. Meredith, S. Boland, M. Wright, T. David, J. Doran (wk), N. Ellis, N. Winter, D. Moody, M. Owen, W. Parker


Overseas: D. Malan, C. Ingram, W. Jacks, K. Paul, S. Lamichhane


Replacement Players: C. Jewell, C. Wakim, J. Botha



Melbourne Renegades


After winning their maiden BBL title in 2018/19, the Renegades had their worst ever season last year, finishing bottom with just six points from 14 matches. Their squad possesses a good blend of youth and experience, with captain Aaron Finch, Shaun Marsh, Marcus Harris, Rilee Roussow, Sam Harper, Mohammed Nabi, and Beau Webster forming a solid batting lineup.


James Pattinson, Kane Richardson, and new signing Josh Lalor will lead a slightly thin seam attack, while Imran Tahir, Cameron Boyce, Noor Ahmad, and Jon Holland offer very strong spin bowling options. The decision to go with a spin heavy attack is a risky one but could pay off if the right balance is found.


Key Man: Aaron Finch



Finch is undoubtedly the star player and leader of the Renegades line up with his bullish strokeplay and clean striking. Only Chris Lynn has made more runs in the history of the Big Bash than the 34-year-old, while no batsman has made more fifty-plus scores than his 20. The right-hander only featured nine times last season but still managed 363 runs at an average of 45.37, underlining his world-class ability at the top of the order. The Renegades will look to him to lead the way, once again.


Watch Out For: Rilee Roussow


A stylish left-handed batsman with an authoritative drive, Roussow made his name with a series of impressive displays for South Africa before switching to a Kolpak deal with Hampshire in 2017. Despite never previously featuring in the Big Bash, The 31-year-old enjoyed franchise success in the 2018-19 Bangladesh Premier League season with 558 runs at an average of nearly 70. Despite a mixed 2019 season, Roussow is expected to add plenty of much-needed firepower to an inconsistent Renegades batting line up.


Squad:

A Finch ©, M. Harris, S. Harper (wk), S. Marsh, B. Webster, K. Richardson, J. Pattinson, J. Holland, Z. Evans, C. Boyce, J. Fraser-McGurk, W. Sutherland, M. Perry, J. Lalor, J. Prestwidge, M. Harvey


Overseas: R. Roussow, M. Nabi, I. Tahir, N. Ahmad. B. Howell


Replacement Players: B. Couch, P. Hatzoglou



Melbourne Stars



The Stars were arguably the best team on show in last season’s competition, finishing top of the table with 20 points before losing a rain-affected final to the Sydney Sixers at the SCG. Their squad looks as strong as ever this time around, with Marcus Stoinis, Jonny Bairstow, Nic Maddinson, Nicholas Pooran, and Glenn Maxwell forming a potentially explosive top five. Ben Dunk, Hilton Cartwright, and Will Pucovski also at solid depth and cover.


The bowling attack, although less star-studded, also looks strong. New signing Billy Stanlake will add pace to a seam attack featuring the experienced Nathan Coulter-Nile and Lance Morris. Leg-spinners Adam Zampa, Tom O’Connell, and Clint Hinchcliffe complete a spin attack likely to offer wicket-taking options but also inconsistency, especially on pitches that offer little spin.


Key Man: Marcus Stoinis


Since being promoted to open the innings, Stoinis has been a revelation for the Stars. Last season, he was the tournament’s outstanding batsman and by quite a distance too, making 705 runs at an average of 54.23 and a strike rate of 136.36. His finest moment came when he made 147 not out against the Sydney Sixers at the MCG – the highest score by any big bash player. The all-rounder possesses plenty of power and has improved his reading of match situations. Much will depend on his form at the top of the order, once again.


Watch Out For: Adam Zampa


After showing plenty of inconsistent displays in his early years, Zampa has turned into a reliable performer for Australia and one of the best white-ball spinners in the world. He has combined his wicket-taking deliveries with a tighter line and length and is now a very effective and versatile bowler, especially when it comes to tying opposition batsmen down. He had an impressive Big Bash season in 2019/20, taking 20 wickets at 16.20, while only Haris Rauf (7.05), Rashid Khan (7.15) and Peter Siddle (7.18) had better economy rates of bowlers to have taken over 15 wickets. Like Swepson for the Heat, Zampa will be a key man for the Stars in the middle overs.


Squad:

M. Stoinis, N. Maddinson, G. Maxwell, H. Cartwright, N. Coulter-Nile, A. Zampa, L. Morris, B. Stanlake, Hinchcliffe, B. Dunk, S. Gotch (wk), T. O’Connell, W. Pucovski, J. Coleman, L. Hatcher, N. Larkin


Overseas: A. Fletcher, N. Pooran, Z. Khan, D. Hussain



Perth Scorchers


No team has won more Big Bash titles than the Scorchers but they are entering a rebuilding phase after an underwhelming showing last season following the departure of several experienced players in recent years. However, their squad for the upcoming campaign looks to be taking shape quite nicely. The services of Liam Livingstone secured for another year, while fellow Englishmen Jason Roy, Joe Clarke, and Kiwi Colin Munro have joined him in a strong overseas quartet.


The Scorchers look particularly strong in the bowling department, once again, with Jye Richardson, Jason Behrendorff, AJ Tye, and Joel Paris spearheading the pace attack, and Ashton Agar and Fawad Ahmed offering experienced and reliable spin options. Perth also have plenty of firepower in the middle order too, with Mitchell Marsh, Ashton Turner, Cameron Green, Josh Inglis, and Sam Whiteman providing depth, balance, and versatility.


Key Man: Mitchell Marsh


A powerful ball-striker and handy seamer, Marsh is the glue to the Perth Scorchers, even more so with so many departures from the franchise. The all-rounder had a satisfying if not explosive 2019/20 campaign, making 382 runs at an average of 34.72 and an impressive strike rate of 145.24 from 14 matches, including a superb unbeaten 93 against the Brisbane Heat. Despite his bowling workload reducing due to his preference to go with specialist, frontline bowlers Marsh remains a good option with the ball giving his side depth, balance and variety to their attack.


Watch Out For: Jhye Richardson



In one of the strongest bowling attacks in the competition, Richardson is arguable the most exciting prospect on show. He possesses searing pace and a skiddy length which often causes problems for batsmen and provides the Scorchers with a genuine wicket-taking option in the powerplay. The seamer took 15 wickets in the competition last season – joint most for his side with Fawad Ahmed – and his economy of 7.07 was the second best of any bowler with 15 scalps or more, behind only Ahmed (6.90). His new-ball partnership with Jason Behrendorff could be a very dangerous one.


Squad:

M. Marsh ©, C. Bancroft, S. Whiteman (wk), J. Inglis (wk), A. Turner, C. Green, A. Agar, J. Richardson, J. Behrendorff, A. Tye, F. Ahmed, A. Hardie, M. Kelly, J. Paris, C. Gannon. K. Patterson


Overseas: J. Roy, L. Livingstone, C. Munro, J. Clarke



Sydney Sixers


After enduring a poor 2018/19 campaign, the Sixers emerged as last season’s champions with a 19-run win over the Melbourne Stars in a rain-hit encounter. Their side does not boast many big names but does possess a strong core of Australian players and some reliable overseas options. The exciting opening pair of Josh Philippe and James Vince will hope to continue where they left off last season, while Daniel Hughes, Moises Henriques, and Jordan Silk should provide stability to the middle order once again.


Experienced all-rounder Dan Christian also bolsters their options with his big-hitting and canny seamers yet it is the return of Mitchell Starc that could provide the biggest boost this season. He joins a strong attack of Sean Abbott, Ben Dwarshuis, Jackson Bird, Steven O’Keefe, and Nathan Lyon, which likely going to be the key to the Sixers going far in the tournament once again.


Key Man: Moises Henriques



Experienced and classy. Henriques is the man who has held the Sixers batting together for years at either No. 3 or No. 4. Only seven players have scored more runs than him in the history of the Big Bash, while only Dan Christian and Ben Laughlin have played more matches than his 82. The Sixers captain had an indifferent 2019/20 campaign, making just 267 runs at 24.27, but was striking at 148.33. In one of the weaker batting lineups in the competition, Henriques’ runs remain very important.


Watch Out For: Josh Philippe


A player with excellent timing and a determination to go after opposition bowlers, Philippe is one of the most exciting young players in Australia at the moment. Despite being brought up in Western Australia, he has earned his reputation at the top of the order for the Sixers and was a key figure during their title-winning 2019/20 campaign. The 23-year-old scored 487 runs from 16 innings – only Marcus Stoinis and Alex Hales made more – and was Man Of The Match in the final after making 52 from 29 balls. His consistency at the top of the order will be vital once again for his side.


Squad:

M. Henriques ©, J. Philippe (wk), D. Hughes, J. Silk, D. Christian, S. Abbott, B. Dwarshuis, M. Starc, N. Lyon, J. Bird, J. Edwards, M. Edwards, H. Kerr, B. Manenti, S. O’Keefe, L. Pope,


Overseas: J. Vince, C. Brathwaite, J. Holder


Replacement Players: J. Avendano, N. Bertus, L. Neil-Smith, T. Rogers, G. Sandhu



Sydney Thunder



An inconsistent and unpredictable side, the Thunder narrowly missed out on qualification to last season’s knockout stage by way of Net Run Rate to the Hobart Hurricanes. Their batting lineup is top-heavy, with Alex Hales, Usman Khawaja, and Callum Ferguson giving their top three explosiveness, class, and experience. The arrival of Sam Billings has boosted one of the tournament’s weaker middle order, which was heavily reliant on Alex Ross last season.


All-rounder Ben Cutting should prove an excellent addition after arriving from the Brisbane Heat with his big-hitting ability and steady seamers. Last season’s top wicket-taker, Daniel Sams, leads a promising bowling attack featuring Adam Milne, Chris Tremain, Brendan Doggett, and Nathan McAndrew. Furthermore, Chris Green, Arjun Nair offer strong and reliable spin options.


Key Man: Alex Hales


Hales has earned a reputation as a fine white-ball player through years of string performances and last year’s Big Bash was him at his best. The Englishman compiled 576 runs at 38.40 and a strike rate of 146.93 – the highest of any batsman with over 400 runs in the competition that season. With long leavers and sweet timing, Hales can hit the ball a long way when he gets going and remains a dangerous proposition for opposition bowling attacks.


Watch Out For: Ben Cutting


After spending his whole career with the Brisbane Heat, Cutting has moved to the Thunder for the upcoming season and should add vital balance to their side. With long leavers and excellent hand-eye co-ordination he is a huge hitter of the ball and is capable of batting anywhere in the order. Without being especially quick, he is also very useful with the ball, particularly in the middle period with his changes of pace often hard for opposition batsmen to get away. He also brings immense T20 experience and should be a key player for the Thunder this season.


Squad:

C. Ferguson ©, U. Khawaja, A. Ross, M. Gilkes (wk), B. Cutting, D. Sams, C. Green, A. Nair, C. Tremain, O. Davies, B. Doggett, N. McAndrew, J. Sangha, T. Sangha, B. Holt, J. Cook


Overseas: A. Hales, S. Billings, A. Milne

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