The 2018-19 Big Bash League is just days away and this summer’s edition promises to be bigger and better, with 59 games to be played across two months. Every club has at least two international stars, with many teams placing emphasis on strong spinners and batsman capable of clearing the fence.
Overseas players: Colin Ingram (South Africa), Rashid Khan (Afghanistan) The “bulldozer” Colin Ingram is expected to hit plenty of big sixes during the tournament and has long been a T20 specialist across the globe. The hard hitting left hander slammed 277 runs in BBL|07 at a strike rate of 139.2, hitting two half-centuries for the tournament. The Strikers will also throw him the ball if required. Afghanistan spinner Rashid Khan lit up the competition last season and is one of the best bowlers in the entire globe. Khan claimed 18 wickets at an elite economy of 5.65 runs per over last year. The 20-year-old is a global T20 star, playing multiple leagues across the world, including the Indian Premier League.
Overseas players: Brendon McCullum (New Zealand), Mujeeb Ur Rahman (Afghanistan) Australians have long seen what retired New Zealand international Brendon McCullum can do, having bashed his way around the domestic and international circuit for years. The opening batsman is known to clear the rope and his fearless approach at the crease makes him a must-watch player. McCullum smashed 248 runs last season, scoring two half-centuries. Little known Mujeeb Ur Rahman will surprise many who haven’t heard of the talented 17-year-old. The Afghanistan spinner has a plethora of different deliveries that can bamboozle opposition batsman and he stood out during the Indian Premier League when playing for Kings XI Punjab. Mujeeb should contend for the most wickets in the BBL|08.
Overseas players: Jofra Archer (West Indies/England), Tymal Mills (England) This time last year Jofra Archer was one of the big unknown signings heading in to BBL|07, but the Hurricanes fast bowler has become a fan favourite — given his fast bowling and cool and calm approach out on the ground. New rules will mean the West Indian U19 representative is eligible for England starting in 2019, but his T20 bowling is the skill that separates him from others in this tournament. Archer took 16 wickets last season, swinging the new ball and hitting the 145 kmp/h mark consistently. The Hurricanes will be hoping for more from left arm quick Tymal Mills, who took just eight wickets at an average of 48.6. While Mills is capable of hitting the 150 kmp/h mark, his slower balls also make him a potentially damaging bowler. But Mills will need to improve his economy, which was 9.72 runs per over in BBL|07.
Overseas players: Mohammad Nabi (Afghanistan), Usman Khan Shinwari (Pakistan) (Harry Gurney [England] replaces Shinwari for second half of season) West Indian all-rounder Dwayne Bravo has packed his bags and left the Renegades after five years in red. But Mohammad Nabi will return after a fantastic first season with the Renegades in BBL|07. The Afghanistan all-rounder was a trusted player with the new ball, claiming eight wickets at an economy of just 5.76 throughout the tournament. He also showed his capabilities with the bat, plundering 52 against the Melbourne Stars at the MCG batting in the top order. Pakistan left arm quick Usman Khan Shinwari is the Renegades’ second overseas signing, with the fast bowler having represented his country in both the one day and T20 international formats. England quick Harry Gurney has played 12 games for his country and the left armer will replace Shinwari at the halfway point of the tournament. His good variations with ball in hand will make him a handy addition to the squad.
Overseas players: Dwayne Bravo (West Indies), Sandeep Lamichhane (Nepal) (Liam Plunkett [England] replaces Lamichhane during tournament) Big Bash great Kevin Pietersen is done and dusted in the Big Bash — but the Stars have found a more than worthy replacement with all-rounder Dwayne Bravo crossing Melbourne franchises to the Stars. Bravo had an outstanding BBL|07 with the ball, claiming 18 wickets at an average of 20.16. Bravo’s economy rate has crept up over the last 12 months with the ball, so it remains to be seen how effect he is aged 35. Also expect him to score some runs in the middle order. Young Nepal leg spinner Sandeep Lamichhane is another unknown to many, but the 18-year-old should spin the Stars to some early season victories. He has played across the globe in T20 leagues, indicating just how strong his T20 craft is. England fast bowler Liam Plunkett will replace Lamichhane when he heads to the Bangladesh Premier League during the tournament.
Overseas players: Usman Qadir (Pakistan), David Willey (England)
The Perth Scorchers have never really dipped their toes in trying to bring in big named international stars, but they will again turn to English all-rounder David Willey for BBL|08. Willey played six games last season, scoring 127 runs with the bat and claiming seven wickets. The left-hander can clear the rope at the top of the order, while he is a genuine swing bowler with the new ball. The son of Pakistan legend Abdul Qadir has joined the Scorchers outfit, with Usman having taken six wickets in the JLT Cup for Western Australia in October. Qadir has the ability to spin the ball both ways and will need to be watch by opposition batsman very closely.
Overseas players: Joe Denly (England), Tom Curran (England)
The Sydney Sixers have turned to England pair Joe Denly and Tom Curran for BBL|08. Denly originally begun his career as a batsman, before transitioning to a full-time all-rounder. The right-hander scored 146 runs in his four matches for the Sixers last season and continues to dominate for Kent in English county cricket. The legspinner is more than capable of bowling four overs. Fast bowler Tom Curran joins the Sixers for the first time and his variety with the white ball will mean he will hold a key role for the Sixers with the ball. His slower balls are hard to pick, while his pace can mean he swings the new ball as well.
Overseas players: Joe Root (England), Jos Buttler (England) (Chris Jordan [England] and Anton Devcich [New Zealand] will replace Root and Buttler for the second half of the season)
On paper England pair Joe Root and Jos Buttler look to be two of the best international signings across the entire BBL competition. But in a twist, they will be only available for the first seven games of the tournament — meaning it is crucial the Thunder get off to a strong start. The England captain Root isn’t a renown T20 specialist, but will provide some strength to the Thunder top order, while hard-hitting Buttler showed his capabilities last season for the Thunder — blasting two half-centuries in six games. Their mid-season replacements are both more than capable T20 cricketers, with England fast bowler Chris Jordan possessing speed and a good slower ball. New Zealander Anton Devcich can hit a long ball and should be capable of clearing the boundary. He has played 16 internationals for his country.