With the 2013 county season now a distant memory, fans of domestic cricket have been forced to look elsewhere for their winter entertainment. The Ashes tests haven’t been anywhere near satisfying enough for anyone English but fortunately, the KFC Big Bash T20 begins in Australia on Friday. Showcasing some of the finest talent in limited-overs cricket, here is each team’s man to watch:
Sydney Thunder – Dirk Nannes
The former Australia and Netherlands left-armer has converted himself into something of a t20 specialist of late. From Surrey to Chennai Super Kings to Sydney Thunder, plus a season here at Trent Bridge with Nottinghamshire the 37-year-old has impressed across the world. This tournament looks to be no different, as Nannes will look to lead the club’s fast bowling unit and produce the performances we have come to expect of him.
Adelaide Strikers – Alex Hales
ICC number one ranked t20 Batsman Alex Hales impressed during last year’s Big Bash as a late replacement for Marlon Samuels. One of Nottinghamshire's prized assets in the game's shorter format, his 94 for England against Australia in August topped an excellent t20 summer, and he’ll be looking to continue his good form through the Big Bash ahead of the spring IPL auction.
Perth Scorchers – Dwayne Smith
Another player who has found his forte in the game’s shortest format, Smith was one of the stars in the Champions League T20 with Mumbai Indians. Now with Perth, the well-respected all-rounder will be looking to impress once more and secure deals in India and here in England next summer.
Brisbane Heat – Daniel Vettori
A great bowler in the shorter formats, Vettori missed most of Heat’s title-winning season through injury. However, he has provided them with a boost for the upcoming tournament after reaffirming his intentions to link up with the Brisbane-based outfit once more. Coach Stuart Law will be delighted with his recruitment, Vettori’s left-arm off-breaks and explosive lower-order batting an asset for any side.
Sydney Sixers – Brett Lee
With reports saying Lee hasn’t played competitive cricket since this year’s IPL, expect him to be fresher than any other player in the early rounds of matches. Unburned with any international commitments, his pace will be up there with some of the best in the game in a four-over spell. Expect plenty of batsmen to be apprehensive when facing Lee, and opposition bowlers are likely to experience similar emotions when Michael Lumb takes to the crease.
Hobart Hurricanes – Owais Shah
Remember him? Shah followed the recent trend of t20 specialism and enjoyed spells in both the Indian and Bangladesh Premier Leagues. His quirky, wristy batting side makes him a difficult man to bowl at, something which the other sides’ bowling attacks will find out in the coming weeks.
Melbourne Stars – Luke Wright
With Lasith Malinga tied up with Sri Lanka, Luke Wright was the obvious choice for a strike bowler for the Stars. Surplus to requirements for the England ODI matches against Australia, the Sussex all-rounder’s ability with bat and ball will be a key component in the Stars’ challenge this season.
Melbourne Renegades – Mohammad Hafeez
Having fallen out of favour with the Pakistan test team, Hafeez’s explosive top-order batting and wily off-breaks would be a key facet to any team, and the Renegades will be extremely happy to have acquired his services.