In this last instalment of this four-piece set, I review the chances of Big Bash League teams from Sydney, the Sixers and the Thunder.
While two seasons is relatively a short time to pass judgement, the results that have come out of the Sydney Sixers stable can be easily termed as inconsistent.
They were the winner of the Big Bash League in the first edition of the tournament and they went on to register a double by clinching the Champions League T20 as well.
Then, only two months later in the next edition of the Big Bash League, they finished with three wins and in the seventh position on the points table to not even qualify for the semi-finals.
This season, they will be led by Brad Haddin again but with the wicket-keeper expected to remain away with the Australian national side during the Ashes, Stephen O’Keefe may take over the leadership role. Trevor Bayliss will be the coach.
In Michael Lumb and Ravi Bopara, the Sixers have signed up for two of the better T20 players in the world currently and once the latter leaves for national duties, fellow countryman Chris Tremlett will replace him in the side.
The domestic line-up is one of the best in the business too.
Unfortunately for the Sixers, they will also miss out on the services of Steven Smith for the same reason as above, but are in the more-than-capable hands of Nic Maddinson and Jordan Silk as far as their batting is concerned.
Maddinson had an excellent first season of the BBL and he was one of the reasons why the Sixers went on to claim the title, and while he is yet to make full use of his talents, expect him to fire in all cylinders.
Silk is more remembered for his gritty 358-ball century for Tasmania in the previous season of the Sheffield Shield but his technical nuances should help the Sixers with some solidity at the top
The bowling department has been bolstered by the Brett Lee, Josh Hazlewood, Trent Copeland while Mitchell Starc is also a part of the squad but it remains to be seen whether he will get fit in time for the first game.
Brad Haddin (c), Sean Abbott, Ravi Bopara, Trent Copeland, Moises Henriques, Brett Lee, Michael Lumb, Nathan Lyon, Marcus North, Nic Maddinson, Jordan Silk, Steve O’Keefe, Daniel Smith, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, Chris Tremlett.
After two successive seasons of finishing last in the points table, things needed to change with the Sydney Thunder.
It started with the hiring of a new coach and the management’s decision to not re-sign Chris Gayle for this season in order to save on their budget and bring in some other players.
Former Sri Lankan all-rounder Chandika Hathurusinghe takes over the coaching responsibilities of a side for whom the only thing to do is to improve from their previous showings.
In fact the Thunder have won only two matches over the two seasons and none last year, making it even more imperative they get moving quickly this season.
Michael Clarke has been named the captain but it remains to be seen how many games will play, away from his national commitments with the Test and the ODI team and keeping his fitness in mind.
It will be the same issue with David Warner, who returns to the squad, which means there aren’t too many captaincy options for the Thunder – Michael Hussey is one, while Englishman Eoin Morgan could have also taken up the job had he been playing the entire season.
There are two Sri Lankans who have been brought in too. At the top of the order, Tillakaratne Dilshan will open the innings with someone like Usman Khawaja while Ajantha Mendis will join Luke Doran as their two spin bowling options.
Khawaja had a good time at the Ryobi Cup earlier this year which should give him with some confidence going into this tournament, after being known more for his batting in the longer format of the game.
Chris Woakes is the other overseas player who will join the side for a couple of games, while the other pace bowlers in the side are Dirk Nannes, Luke Feldman and Gurinder Sandhu.
Michael Clarke (c), Ryan Carters, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Luke Feldman, Daniel Hughes, Ajantha Mendis, Dirk Nannes, Gurinder Sandhu, David Warner, Chris Woakes, Chris Tremain, Kurtis Patterson, Eoin Morgan, Michael Hussey, Jason Floros, Luke Doran, Scott Coyte, Cameron Borgas.