Everyone seemed to be excited by Bridget Patterson’s frontrunner for the catch of the WBBL season – except for the player herself.
Having cast my eyes over the completed squads for the Big Bash League and run a few numbers, this is how I see the next six weeks playing out.
First up, let’s take a loo at who will finish from sixth to eighth, which includes a couple of surprises.
On paper, the Sixers are still the stronger of the two Sydney-based sides. With the vast majority of the NSW squad wearing the Sixers’ magenta, they’ve now been further bolstered by the arrivals of Ryan Carters and Doug Bollinger.
However, international commitments are going to pull the core out of their side and challenge their depth.
Carters will have the gloves in Brad Haddin’s absence, and is a more than useful middle-order option for the Sixers, but could also open if the need arose.
Dwayne Smith is their new international signing, and while acting mostly as a batsmen in recent times, does also provide an additional bowling option which could be handy if/when Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc, Sean Abbott, Nathan Lyon and Steve Smith are unavailable.
Marcus North has retired and replaced by a rejuvenated Ed Cowan, though he might not make their first XI. However, depending on how Chris Rogers goes in Brisbane, there is every chance that Ed could find himself back in the Test team for Boxing Day.
Gains: Doug Bollinger (Hurricanes), Ryan Carters (Thunder), Ed Cowan, Dwayne Smith
Losses: Josh Lalor (Thunder), Marcus North (retired), Daniel Smith (retired)
Strength: Their experience, at a quick count they’ve got 13 current or former Australian representatives in their ranks.
Weakness: That all their experience will be playing for Australia and not them, testing their depth greatly.
Availability: Will be without Brad Haddin, Nathan Lyon and Steve Smith for most, if not all, of the tournament. One or both of Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc also likely to be unavailable due to Test, and then ODI, selection. Might also lose Sean Abbott once the ODI tri-series begins.
1. Dwayne Smith
2. Michael Lumb
3. Nic Maddinson
4. Moises Henriques
5. Ryan Carters
6. Jordan Silk
7. Sean Abbott
8. Steve O’Keefe
9. Mitchell Starc
10. Brett Lee
11. Doug Bollinger
Prediction: eighth – Believe it or not the numbers I ran placed them last by a distance. At full strength they would make the finals easily, but they won’t be anywhere near full-strength.
Having made it to the final in all three seasons, they finally cracked a win last year, but I’m not expecting the same this year.
They’ll be without Craig Simmons and Simon Katich, but they’ve got reasonable replacements with Michael Carberry and Michael Klinger.
However the absence of the Marsh brothers will hurt them a lot, Shaun’s top order batting is key, and the loss of all-rounder Mitch affects their overall balance.
They also upgraded their spin bowling stocks with a steal of a trade with the Stars, swapping Michael Beer for James Muirhead. He joins Ashton Agar in a battle for Brad Hogg’s spot – if they don’t pick Hogg, and are without Mitch Marsh, then both Muirhead and Agar could play.
The trio of Jason Behrendorff, Joel Paris and Nathan Coulter-Nile is one of the strongest attacks in the tournament – we’ve already seen what they can do in the Matador BBQs Cup earlier in the summer.
Gains: Michael Carberry, Marcus Harris, Michael Klinger (Strikers), Simon Mackin, James Muirhead (Stars), Andrew Tye (Thunder)
Losses: Michael Beer (Stars), Pat Cummins (Thunder), Ryan Duffield (Heat), Craig Simmons (Strikers), Tom Triffit (Stars), Simon Katich (retired)
Strength: Bowling, they’ve got depth in their pace options, and in their spin options – their only problem will be deciding who misses out.
Weakness: Batting, the additions of Carberry and Klinger won’t offset the loss of Katich, Simmons and the Marsh brothers.
Availability: Already without Mitch Marsh, they have now lost Shaun as well following his Test re-call. A chance they could also lose Nathan Coulter-Nile if he makes the Australian ODI side.
1. Michael Carberry
2. Michael Klinger
3. Adam Voges
4. Sam Whiteman
5. Ashton Agar
6. Ashton Turner
7. Nathan Coulter-Nile
8. Yasir Arafat
9. Jason Behrendorff
10. Joel Paris
11. Brad Hogg
Prediction: seventh – On paper they have a great squad, but – like the Sixers – several significant absences will affect their balance. I don’t see them making the final this year, nor the top four, but they will probably find someway of proving me wrong.
The second least successful team across the first three seasons, the Strikers have added batsmen Brad Hodge and Craig Simmons and bowlers Ben Laughlin and Chadd Sayers.
The big West Indian all-rounder Kieron Pollard also returns, plus they have signed Ryan ten Doeschate as his replacement for the back half of the tournament.
They have numerous options that could be used to partner new recruit Craig Simmons at the top of the order, but I’d expect them to try several options before they find one that sticks.
The Strikers will also miss Michael Neser who was their MVP last year, having been ruled out with a back injury.
Even with the addition of Brad Hodge, Kieron Pollard and Craig Simmons the Strikers don’t have a lot of batting depth, this will be an issue if they lose an early clump of wickets.
Inexperience is an issue across the squad with four players yet to play a BBL game, and several others with less than a handful under their belts.
Gains: Brad Hodge (Stars), Hamish Kingston, Ben Laughlin (Hurricanes), Kieron Pollard, Alex Ross, Chadd Sayers, Craig Simmons (Scorchers), Ryan ten Doeschate.
Losses: Callum Ferguson (Renegades), Alex Hales (Hurricanes), Michael Klinger (Scorchers), Michael Neser (injury), Jimmy Pierson (Heat), Nathan Reardon (Heat)
Strength: Death bowling, already strong, they now have Ben Laughlin to partner Kane Richardson.
Weakness: Batting depth, if Craig Simmons continues to be inconsistent then they could quickly find themselves three or four down for not many.
Availability: Luckily, they don’t appear likely to be impacted by the ongoing Test series, but could be without Kane Richardson for their last couple of games if he is picked for the ODI tri-series.
1. Craig Simmons
2. Jono Dean
3. Brad Hodge
4. Travis Head
5. Kieron Pollard
6. Tim Ludeman
7. Trent Lawford
8. Johan Botha
9. Kane Richardson
10. Ben Laughlin
11. Shaun Tait
Prediction: sixth – I think they’ll manage to be better than last year, but only slightly.
There is a notable absence from the bottom three that I’ve tipped. Check back for Part 2 to see who I think will make the finals, and who just misses out.