T20 flavour is here

The inaugural Big Bash League has arrived. Justin Cooper profiles the teams.

Adelaide Strikers

The games: Dec 18 v Melbourne Renegades, Adelaide Oval, 5.30pm; Dec 23 v Sydney Thunder, ANZ Stadium 7pm; Dec 28 v Hobart Hurricanes, Adelaide Oval 7pm; Jan 3 v Brisbane Heat, Gabba 6.30pm; Jan 8 v Perth Scorchers, WACA 6pm; Jan 10 v Sydney Sixers, Adelaide Oval 7pm; Jan 19 v Melbourne Stars, MCG 7pm

Coach: Darren Berry

The squad: Michael Klinger (captain), Aiden Blizzard, Cameron Bogas, Lee Carseldine, Tom Cooper, Adam Crosthwaite, Theo Doropoulos, Brendan Drew, Callum Ferguson, Daniel Harris, Nathan Lyon, Aaron O’Brien, Kieron Pollard, Gary Putland, Kane Richardson, Alfonso Thomas

The ace: Kieron Pollard. Master with the bat and hits the ball further than anyone.

The X-factor: Nathan Lyon. Spin bowler who went unnoticed after playing key T20 role last year but will be on notice this time round. May miss some of Big Bash due to Australian Test duties.

The verdict: In the mix after winning prequel to the BBL last year. Will take most of the Champions League T20 line-up into the revamped comp and won’t be easy to beat unless they badly collapse.

Brisbane Heat

The games: Dec 16 v Sydney Sixers, SCG 7pm; Dec 20 v Melbourne Stars, Gabba 6.30pm; Dec 29 v Perth Scorchers, WACA 6pm; Jan 3 v Adelaide Strikers, Gabba 6.30pm; Jan 6 v Hobart Hurricanes, Gabba 6.30pm; Jan 12 v Melbourne Renegades, Etihad Stadium 7pm; Jan 17 v Sydney Thunder, Gabba 6.30pm

Coach: Darren Lehmann

The squad: James Hopes (captain), Andrew Robinson, Ryan Broad, Nick Buchanan, Daniel Christian, Ben Cutting, Peter Forrest, Ryan Harris, Chris Hartley, Nathan Hauritz, Matthew Hayden, Chris Lynn, Brendon McCullum, Michael Neser, Chris Swan, Daniel Vettori

The ace: Dan Christian/Brendon McCullum. Take your pick between the powerful indigenous all-rounder – a $900,000 IPL signing – and the exciting Kiwi opener who can demolish any attack.

The X-factor: Nick Buchanan. The 20 year old son of former Australian coach John is a 196cm, 103kg giant who can smash the ball a mile and bowl at speeds approaching 150km/h.

The verdict: Will perform or perish on the strength of the McCullum/Matthew Hayden opening partnership. If the damaging Kiwi and the 40 year old former Test opener can launch a punishing combination, players like Christian, Buchanan, James Hopes and Peter Forrest can capitalise.

Hobart Hurricanes

The games: Dec 18 v Perth Scorchers, WACA 6pm; Dec 21 v Sydney Sixers, Blundstone Arena 7pm; Dec 28 v Adelaide Strikers, Adelaide Oval 7pm; Jan 1 v Sydney Thunder, Blundstone Arena 7pm; Jan 6 v Brisbane Heat, Gabba 6.30pm; Jan 9 v Melbourne Stars, Blundstone Arena 7pm; Jan 18 v Melbourne Renegades, Blundstone Arena 4pm

Coach: Ali De Winter

The squad: Tim Paine (captain), Xavier Doherty, Ben Hilfenhaus, Jason Krejza, Michael Hogan, Ben Laughlin, Evan Gulbis, Matt Johnston, Mark Cosgrove, Rana Naved, Rhett Lockyear, Ricky Ponting, Luke Feldman, Travis Birt, Phil Jaques, Owais Shah, Nick Kruger

The ace: Mark Cosgrove. One of Australia’s most naturally gifted batsmen but weight issues keep him out of the national team. A beautiful striker with the bat who scores quickly, he is also a capable medium-pace bowler.

The X-factor: Rana Naved. A proven T20 performer, Naved is a dangerous bowler in any conditions and a handy lower-order batsman capable of tallying up the runs.

The verdict: Lock them in for the wooden spoon. Not enough talent or depth and their top-signing Ricky Ponting isn’t likely to feature in every game. They have variety in their bowling but without Ponting, will struggle with the bat. Will need to pull a rabbit out of a hat to make the finals.

Melbourne Renegades

The games: Dec 18 v Adelaide Strikers, Adelaide Oval 5.30pm; Dec 22 v Perth Scorchers, Etihad Stadium 7pm; Dec 30 v Sydney Thunder, ANZ Stadium 7pm; Jan 2 v Sydney Sixers, Etihad Stadium 7pm; Jan 7 v Melbourne Stars, MCG 7pm; Jan 12 v Brisbane Heat, Etihad Stadium 7pm; Jan 18 v Hobart Hurricanes, Blundstone Arena 4pm

Coach: Simon Helmot

The squad: Andrew McDonald (captain), Aaron Finch, Aaron Heal, Brad Hodge, Brenton McDonald, Dirk Nannes, Glenn Maxwell, Jayde Herrick, Michael Hill, Nathan Reardon, Ryan Carters, Shane Harwood, Shaun Tait, Will Sheridan, Shahid Afridi, Abdul Razzaq

The ace: Shahid Afridi. Perfectly suited to T20 cricket, he is the main weapon for the Renegades. One of the biggest hitters and quickest scorers in the game. Owns the record for the fastest ODI hundred in history – from just 37 balls.

The X-factor: Shaun Tait. Still Australia’s fastest bowler by a long stretch despite constant injury problems. Capable of taking multiple wickets in an over. A genuine match-winner who will lead the Renegade bowling attack.

The verdict: Expect the Renegades to perform well due to alot of experienced players in their squad who have consistently performed in T20. Face a losing battle for the hearts of Melbourne fans due to the big success of the Melbourne Star’s franchise, headed up by Eddie McGuire and recruit Shane Warne.

Melbourne Stars

The games: Dec 17 v Sydney Thunder, MCG 7pm; Dec 20 v Brisbane Heat, Gabba 6.30pm; Dec 27 v Sydney Sixers, SCG 7pm; Jan 4 v Perth Scorchers, MCG 7pm; Jan 7 v Melbourne Renegades, MCG 7pm; Jan 9 v Hobart Hurricanes, Blundstone Arena 7pm; Jan 19 v Adelaide Strikers, MCG 7pm

Coach: Greg Shipperd

The squad: Cameron White (captain), George Bailey, Jade Dernbach, James Faulkner, John Hastings, Jon Holland, David Hussey, Alex Keath, Clint McKay, James Pattinson, Rob Quiney, Peter Siddle, Chris Simpson, Adam Voges, Matthew Wade, Shane Warne, Luke Wright

The ace: Shane Warne. If nothing else, he will put bums on seats at the MCG. Expect him to shine on the big stage.

The X-factor: Matthew Wade. A future Australian wicketkeeper in waiting, Wade has been in fabulous batting form, especially in limited overs cricket.

The verdict: False favourites because of Warne hype too early but there is alot to like about the squad they’ve assembled. Will be left vulnerable with James Pattinson and Peter Siddle likely to miss latter part of the Big Bash due to Test duties. Too many unproven batsmen and an inexperienced attack could come back to bite them.

Perth Scorchers

The games: Dec 18 v Hobart Hurricanes, WACA 6pm; Dec 22 v Melbourne Renegades, Etihad Stadium 7pm; Dec 29 v Brisbane Heat, WACA 6pm; Jan 4 v Melbourne Stars, MCG 7pm; Jan 8 v Adelaide Strikers, WACA 6pm; Jan 11 v Sydney Thunder, ANZ Stadium 7pm; Jan 18 v Sydney Sixers, SCG 7pm

Coach: Lachlan Stevens

The squad: Marcus North (captain), Tom Beaton, Michael Beer, Mark Cameron, Paul Collingwood, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Liam Davis, Ben Edmondson, Herschelle Gibbs, Brad Hogg, Mike Hussey, Simon Katich, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Luke Pomersbach, Nathan Rimmington, Luke Ronchi

The ace: Mitchell Marsh. Shaun’s ‘little’ brother has already represented Australia in T20 and, at 20, the sky’s the limit. Has been dangerous with the ball all summer and hits the ball long when he gets going. The all-rounder is the most naturally gifted and exciting young player since former Australian skipper Ricky Ponting was a teenager.

The X-factor: Herschelle Gibbs. If the dynamic South African gets off to a flyer, watch out. His six sixes in an over at the 2007 World Cup and his 175 against Australia to anchor a world record run chase were just two of his many career highlights.

The verdict: May well have pulled a masterstroke by investing in the recruitment of former England international Paul Collingwood and banking on local talent such as Nathan Coulter-Nile and Tom Beaton. Not the worst but the side’s seasoned campaigners are all batsmen and it’s hard to see them winning the BBL with what appears to be a limited bowling attack.

Sydney Sixers

The games: Dec 16 v Brisbane Heat, SCG 7pm; Dec 21 v Hobart Hurricanes, Blundstone Arena 7pm; Dec 27 v Melbourne Stars, SCG 7pm; Jan 2 v Melbourne Renegades, Etihad Stadium 7pm; Jan 8 v Sydney Thunder, ANZ Stadium 6pm; Jan 10 v Adelaide Strikers, Adelaide Oval 7pm; Jan 18 v Perth Scorchers, SCG 7pm

Coach: Trevor Bayliss

The squad: Brad Haddin (captain), Dwayne Bravo, Ed Cowan, Patrick Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Moises Henriques, Brett Lee, Michael Lumb, Nic Maddinson, Ian Moran, Peter Nevill, Stephen O’Keefe, Ben Rohrer, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, Dominic Thornely, Shane Watson

The ace: Dwayne Bravo. West Indian who has been there, done that in T20 cricket and will have vital roles with the bat and ball.

The X-factor: Brett Lee. Will be an asset to the Sixers, bringing quality fast bowling and experience to the table. Just as capable with the bat and is superb in the field.

The verdict: The Sixers appear to have a balance of youth and experience, but like other teams, will lose Australian players due to the scheduled Test matches, starting with the Boxing Day Test against India. They hold a very strong bowling attack so expect them to make the semi-finals, however they’ll be relying on runs from young guns to reach the tournament’s final stages.

Sydney Thunder

The games: Dec 17 v Melbourne Stars, MCG 7pm; Dec 23 v Adelaide Strikers, ANZ Stadium 7pm; Dec 30 v Melbourne Renegades, ANZ Stadium 7pm; Jan 1 v Hobart Hurricanes, Blundstone Arena 7pm; Jan 8 v Sydney Sixers, ANZ Stadium 6pm; Jan 11 v Perth Scorchers, ANZ Stadium 7pm; Jan 17 v Brisbane Heat, Gabba 6.30pm

Coach: Shane Duff

The squad: David Warner (captain), Sean Abbott, Tim Armstrong, Nic Bills, Doug Bollinger, Luke Butterworth, Scott Coyte, Tim Cruickshank, Matthew Day, Luke Doran, Ben Dunk, Fidel Edwards, Jason Floros, Chris Gayle, Usman Khawaja, Craig Philipson, Daniel Smith

The ace: Chris Gayle/David Warner. It’s the strongest opening batting combination of any team and both will be keen to showcase their obvious talent on the big stage.

The X-factor: Ben Dunk. Queensland keeper-batsman who doesn’t have a big profile yet but is a highly talented limited overs dasher and an exciting player for the future.

The verdict: The Thunder ooze with top-end talent but will also need some of their lesser lights to make an impact. Their bowling looks to be their main concern but they just might sneak to the final based on the strength of their batting order.

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