Home Ground: Adelaide Oval
Squad: Johan Botha (c), Jono Dean, Callum Ferguson, Alex Hales, Travis Head, Jon Holland, Phillip Hughes, Michael Klinger, Trent Lawford, Tim Ludeman (wk), Andrew McDonald, Michael Neser, Ben Oakley, Gary Putland, Nathan Reardon, Kane Richardson, Shaun Tait, Adam Zampa.
Last Season: Fifth. Adelaide won four and lost four to finish in fifth, narrowly missing out on the finals. One area they will look to improve upon is their home form, as they lost three out of four home games. There is definitely some room for improvement this season and it will be interesting to see how they fare.
Strengths: Adelaide have an excellent batting line-up, with Michael Klinger and explosive Englishman Alex Hales facing the new ball and some other big hitters down the line. Andrew McDonald and Tim Ludeman are both big hitters (the latter played as an opening batsmen last season and blasted 71 off 43 balls in a match against the Sydney Sixers). Callum Ferguson and Phil Hughes will help steady the innings if early wickets are lost.
Weaknesses: The bowling. Adelaide’s bowling line-up has some players who have represented Australia but are slightly erratic. Shaun Tait’s pace has slowed with every injury he has had over the past few years and although he has days where he is unplayable, on other occasions he is terrible. Kane Richardson made his ODI debut against Sri Lanka as a relative unknown but was banned from bowling after six overs for running on the pitch. How he, the star bowler, will react to a change of action will be crucial.
The Captain: Johan Botha. A spin-bowling all-rounder who has represented South Africa in all three forms of the game, as well as playing the role of vice-captain to Graeme Smith, Botha is a player who has a lot of experience. He is handy with the bat at the end of the innings, and has an economy rate of just over six in this form of the game.
The Coach: Darren Berry. As a player Berry was a wicketkeeper who played 153 First Class and 89 List A games for Victoria and South Australia. He had coaching stints with the Rajasthan Royals and Victoria before taking charge of South Australia and the Strikers.
The Key Player: Michael Klinger. Klinger has been one of the best players in the Australian domestic game for a while, and he will be critical in ensuring that the Strikers don’t lose too many wickets early on in the innings. He is also able to score quickly when it is necessary for him to, as appears to be a necessity for most modern batsmen.
The Import: Alex Hales (England). Hales is a very explosive player who is ranked number one in the world in Twenty20 internationals. When playing for the Renegades as a fill-in last season he scored an 89, and even more ominously scored a 94 for the English against Australia this year. He has scored 665 runs in 21 international appearances, and will be a handful for anyone bowling against him.
The Wildcard: Tim Ludeman. With Hales coming in to partner Klinger at the top of the order it is most likely Ludeman will be shoved down to six or seven in the batting order. This will give him a chance to unleash his strokes at the end of the innings, and help finish off games with aggressive batting.
Prediction: 6th With a strong batting line-up but an inexperienced bowling line-up, it will be interesting to see how the Strikers fare. Adam Zampa is a young player to watch out for. I think they will go close to finals but not quite get there.
Home Ground: The Gabba
Squad: James Hopes (c), Nick Buchanan, Joe Burns, Dan Christian, Ben Cutting, Peter Forrest, Cameron Gannon, Ryan Harris, Chris Hartley (wk), Nathan Hauritz, Mitchell Johnson, Craig Kieswetter (wk), Chris Lynn, Alister McDermott, Luke Pomersbach, Chris Sabburg, Daniel Vettori, Shane Watson.
Last Season: 1st Last season was a successful one for the Heat, who scraped into the finals in 4th before smashing the Renegades and the Scorchers in the finals to take home the title. Luke Pomersbach ended up as the second-highest scorer in the league, and he also made the highest score of the tournament with his 112 not out off 70 in the semi-final.
Strengths: The emerging trend of players moving back to their home states to play in the Big Bash has benefitted the Heat, who have gained Mitchell Johnson, Shane Watson and Dan Christian. The batting is strong, with Pomersbach now gaining a new opening partner in English ‘keeper Craig Kieswetter, and Joe Burns, Chris Lynn, Watson and Peter Forrest all able to score runs in the middle order. Alister McDermott, Ben Cutting, Ryan Harris, Johnson and Christian will make up a formidable pace attack.
Weaknesses: With a very cramped international schedule it may be that Watson and Johnson aren’t available until the finals, which could hamper the Heat. The side should have the depth to make the finals without the pair, although with the added absence of Harris, who is playing in the Ashes alongside Johnson and Watson, the attack will be severely weakened.
The Captain: James Hopes. Hopes is a very experienced all-rounder, and he has played 84 ODIs for Australia, with a high score of 63 not out and best figures of 5-14. He is a very consistent performer, can score quickly at the end of the innings and chip in with the ball.
The Coach: Stuart Law. Law was very unlucky as a player. He was around in Australia’s period of dominance, and despite an average of 50.52 in first class cricket he only played one Test. This is his first season of coaching the Heat and Queensland after replacing Darren Lehmann.
The Key Player: Luke Pomersbach. The second-highest run scorer in last year’s Big Bash (with 397 runs) and he is a dynamic scorer, having scored those runs at a strike rate of 139.78. He and Kieswetter will together make one of the best opening partnerships in the league. His knock of 112 not out in last season’s semi against the Renegades essentially won them the match.
The Imports: Craig Kieswetter (England), Daniel Vettori (New Zealand). Kieswetter partners Hales at the top of the order in the English international Twenty20 team. In the 2010 ICC World Twenty20 Kieswetter forged a successful opening partnership with Michael Lumb, and personally scored 222 runs in that tournament. He also solves the issue of trying to fit a wicketkeeper into a cramped top seven. Vettori is an excellent bowling all-rounder. He has taken a total of 360 Test wickets (second-most taken by a New Zealander, behind Richard Hadlee) and was captain from 2007-2011. He has scored six Test centuries, and saved the New Zealanders with his lower order batting late in his Test career. He also has more wickets in ODIs (276) than any other New Zealander.
The Wildcard: Mitchell Johnson. He may only be available for the finals, but Johnson is one of the most intimidating bowlers in the world. In the second Ashes Test in Adelaide he took 7-40, including Alastair Cook with one of the balls of the series thus far. He is consistently hitting paces in the high 140s.
Prediction: 1st This team has definitely got the depth to go all the way in this competition, and if they make the finals it may be a one-horse race. The bowling attack is the main cause for concern, but McDermott, Cutting and Christian can hold it together until Harris returns after the Ashes.
Home Ground: Blundstone Arena
Squad: George Bailey (c), Travis Birt, Aiden Blizzard, Doug Bollinger, Cameron Boyce, Xavier Doherty, Ben Dunk (wk), Evan Gulbis, Ben Hilfenhaus, Ben Laughlin, Shoaib Malik, Dimitri Mascarenhas, Joe Mennie, Tim Paine (wk), Sam Rainbird, Owais Shah, Timm van der Gugten, Jonathan Wells.
Last Season: 6th After a very successful first campaign in the Big Bash (they finished 1st after the league games but were knocked out by the Sixers in the semi-finals) last season was a real let-down, as they were just edged out of the semis by the Heat. Ben Laughlin ended the competition as the leading wicket-taker.
Strengths: Hobart have in their side arguably the best limited-overs spinner in Australia in Xavier Doherty, who last season dismissed Simon Keen, Ryan Carters and Cameron Borgas in consecutive deliveries to complete the only hat-trick of the season. George Bailey made a record-breaking performance in the third Ashes Test in Perth when he took 28 off a James Anderson over in the second innings. Travis Birt, Owais Shah, Tim Paine and Ben Laughlin are all consistent performers.
Weaknesses: Bailey’s elevation to the Test team means that he will now only be available for the finals. Whether the Hurricanes have the depth to get there is doubtful. The batting line-up lacks depth, and a hole will be left in the bowling attack if Doherty is selected for the ODI team.
The Captain: George Bailey. Bailey has been one of the premier limited overs cricketers in Australia for a few years. His leadership earned him the captaincy of the Twenty20 team, and it is a great shame that he will not feature in the first eight matches of this season.
The Coach: Allister de Winter. A former fast bowler who took 35 first class wickets in a short career. He has also had spells as a coach with the Bangladesh Under-19s and Australia. He has coached the Hurricanes in all of their three seasons.
The Key Player: Travis Birt. In the inaugural edition of the BBL Birt scored more runs than any other player with 345. This earned him an international call-up for the Twenty20 side. With the shallow batting line-up it will be incredibly important for him to make lots of runs.
The Imports: Shoaib Malik (Pakistan), Dimitri Mascarenhas (England), Owais Shah (England). Malik is a spin bowling all-rounder who has had some good recent form with the bat, ending up as the leading run scorer in the inaugural Caribbean Premier League. He has represented Pakistan 303 times over all formats, including 55 T20Is. He is a hard hitter near the end of the innings. Mascarenhas is a highly experienced all-rounder who specialises in limited-overs cricket. He has played 20 ODIs and 14 T20Is over a 17-year career, and has played Twenty20 cricket in India, Australia, Bangladesh and New Zealand. This is Shah’s third season in the BBL, after joining the Hurricanes in 2011. His first season was by far his best, finishing fourth in the run scorers list. The Hurricanes need him to bat well up the top of the order.
The Wildcard: Tim Paine. An excellent gloveman and able to bat well anywhere in the order. Due to the retirement of Ricky Ponting it seems most likely that he will open the innings. If he gets away to a good start he can be a very damaging batsmen, and will change matches.
Prediction: 8th The loss of Bailey and Doherty will really affect the performance of the team, and gives a fairly bleak outlook of the season ahead. A lot of the season’s success is resting upon the form of the batsmen. If Birt, Paine, Malik and Shah fail it will be a tough season.
Home Ground: Etihad Stadium
Squad: Aaron Finch (c), Fawad Ahmed, Jos Buttler (wk), Tom Cooper, Alex Doolan, Matthew Gale, Mohammad Hafeez, Daniel Harris, Jayde Herrick, Michael Hill, Muttiah Muralitharan, Peter Nevill (wk), Aaron O’Brien, James Pattinson, Nathan Rimmington, Ben Rohrer, Will Sheridan, Peter Siddle.
Last Season: 3rd The Renegades ended up on top of the table at the end of the season, but the Heat, aided by 112 not out from Luke Pomersbach, defeated them in a semi-final by 15 runs. Aaron Finch was named the player of the series after scoring 332 runs at an average of 66.4.
Strengths: The Renegades have strengthened in every area, recruiting Jos Buttler, Mohammad Hafeez, James Pattinson and Peter Siddle. Finch is one of the best Twenty20 batsmen in the world, and recently broke the record for the highest individual score in a T20I with 156 against England. Ben Rohrer had an excellent season last year as well, scoring 295 runs. The spin duo of Aaron O’Brien and Muttiah Muralitharan were incredibly strong last season.
Weaknesses: Not many. One minor worry may be the loss of Finch and Buttler for most of the series, although both will be available for the finals. The pair will be reasonably well covered, although they do want their best XI on the park. Pattinson is fully fit and he should play in the ODI team, but Siddle’s choice to only play in the Test team will be of great benefit in this area.
The Captain: Aaron Finch. The star of last season’s tournament, scoring 332 runs. He has also scored 366 runs in his nine T20Is at an extraordinary strike rate of 178.53. He specialises in aggressive run scoring, and his high score of 156 off 54 balls in August was a world record, smashing the previous best of 124 by Brendon McCullum.
The Coach: Simon Helmot. Helmot never played professional cricket but has been assistant coach at Victoria for five years. Before his role with the Bushrangers he worked as coach of Australia A, and he worked as an assistant at Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL earlier this year.
The Key Player: Peter Siddle. Will miss the first few matches but as he won’t be featuring in the limited overs matches he will be available for a maximum of five BBL games. This is significantly more than most of the internationals. Siddle is a key as he bowls excellent line and length. He has played very well in the first three Ashes Tests and his role will be to keep the run rate low.
The Imports: Jos Buttler (England), Mohammad Hafeez (Pakistan), Muttiah Muralitharan (Sri Lanka). Buttler is a great limited overs player and is England’s first-choice ODI wicketkeeper. He is primarily a batsman (he isn’t even first-choice ‘keeper at his county, Somerset, where he plays second fiddle to Kieswetter). He is a hard-hitting middle order player and despite his unavailability during the ODIs he will be a great signing. Hafeez is a batting all-rounder who leads the Pakistani Twenty20 team. He is a limited overs specialist and he made his international debut in 2003. He bowls handy off breaks and is an aggressive opening batsman. It will be interesting to see how he partners up with Finch. Muralitharan is one of the greatest bowlers in cricket history. In 2010 he became the first player in Test history to reach 800 wickets, taking the 800th in his final Test. He remains the leading wicket-taker in this particular format. Last season he took 11 wickets to finish the competition as the fifth-best wicket taker.
The Wildcard: Ben Rohrer. A middle order batsman who specialises in the shortest format of the game. He has a strike rate of just over 137 in Twenty20 cricket, and earned an international debut in February this year. He has the ability, as he has shown in the past, to blast a rapid-fire 20 or 30 at a critical stage of the match.
Prediction: 2nd The Renegades have an excellent chance of victory this season. Expect fireworks from the batsmen, but I think the Heat will just edge them out for the title. Finch, Buttler, Hafeez and Rohrer will be exciting to watch.
Home Ground: Melbourne Cricket Ground
Squad: Cameron White (c), Jackson Bird, Scott Boland, James Faulkner, Peter Handscomb (wk), John Hastings, Brad Hodge, David Hussey, Alex Keath, Lasith Malinga, Glenn Maxwell, Clint McKay, Rob Quiney, Clive Rose, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade (wk), Daniel Worrall, Luke Wright.
Last Season: 4th The Stars made the finals last season but were eliminated by Perth. A downside was defeat in both Melbourne derbies, but Brad Hodge was one of the best batsmen in the league, and Lasith Malinga took 6-7 against Perth in their first meeting.
Strengths: There were some very positive signs for the Stars last season, and they have retained some of the Victorian regulars. David Hussey, Cameron White, Glenn Maxwell, Matthew Wade and James Faulkner are all brilliant hitters of the ball, and Luke Wright, Hodge and Rob Quiney can combine to give them a very solid start.
Weaknesses: An thumb injury to Faulkner, who at the time was knocking on the door of the Test team, and international duty will severely weaken the Stars line-up throughout the season. One may expect Maxwell, Clint McKay, Jackson Bird, Faulkner, Wright and White to all be away. This will be very frustrating for team management. Malinga’s recent form has not been good, and the loss of McKay and Bird, two key bowlers, hurts for this reason.
The Captain: Cameron White. Played some excellent cricket over the course of the Ryobi Cup (the premier List A competition), and as a result was selected as player of the series. He has represented Australia in all three formats of the game and if necessary he is able to pitch in with handy leg breaks.
The Coach: Greg Shipperd. Played 13 seasons of first class cricket with Tasmania and Western Australia. He has been in charge of Victoria since 2004 and the Stars since their inauguration. He is also the coach of the Delhi Daredevils in the IPL. Before taking up his position with the Bushrangers he was coach of Tasmania.
The Key Player: Brad Hodge. Hodge is retired from all three forms of international cricket and now plays as a Twenty20 mercenary. He is the second-highest run scorer in Twenty20 matches, edged out narrowly by Chris Gayle. He has played in Australia, England, New Zealand, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. If he scores runs then the Stars will get a great start to the innings.
The Imports: Lasith Malinga (Sri Lanka), Luke Wright (England). On his day Malinga is one of the fasTtst and most unpredictable bowlers in world cricket. Unfortunately for the Stars, he is low on form, and hasn’t been taking many wickets for Sri Lanka. The Stars will hope he can find his best. His low-slinging action continues to be unique. In the first edition of the BBL Wright scored 117 against the Heat, and was the highest individual score over both seasons. He has established himself as a successful top-order batsman in this team, and he will hope his form continues. He hits the ball hard to start the innings.
The Wildcard: Glenn Maxwell. One of the fastest scorers in Australia. In 2010-11 he scored a 50 off just 19 balls. With his strike rate in this format a touch over 144, he is definitely capable of knocking off quick runs towards the end of the innings.
Prediction: 3rd The Stars have got in their side some of the best strikers of the ball in Australian cricket. Hussey and Hodge are both in the top three for most runs scored in Twenty20 matches, and Faulkner, Maxwell and Wade are very clean hitters. Expect them to play an aggressive brand of cricket and pile on runs in some games.
Home Ground: WACA Ground
Squad: Simon Katich (c), Ashton Agar, Michael Beer, Jason Behrendorff, Hilton Cartwright, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Liam Davis, Ryan Duffield, Brad Hogg, Mitch Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Joel Paris, Dwayne Smith, Alfonso Thomas, Tom Triffit (wk), Ashton Turner, Adam Voges, Sam Whiteman (wk).
Last Season: 2nd Last season the Scorchers made their second home final in a row, and again they failed to convert it into a title, being defeated by Brisbane. Shaun Marsh was the leading run scorer in the league, and as a result he was able to revive his international career.
Strengths: The batting is strong, with Marsh, Adam Voges, Simon Katich and Mitchell Marsh in position. Mitchell Marsh (brother to Shaun) can also bolster the bowling attack. The WACA ground, as displayed in the recent test match, is very bouncy, and with Marsh, Nathan Rimmington, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Alfonso Thomas and Ryan Duffield they are in an ideal position to exploit this.
Weaknesses: Spin can be a very effective strategy in this form of the game, and the Scorchers aren’t well equipped in that department. While Ashton Agar made his test debut in the UK and scored 98 in the first test, his slow left arm orthodox doesn’t compare to most players at this level. Michael Beer didn’t have a successful Test debut either, and the Scorchers can’t continue to rely upon Brad Hogg, who is 42, to carry the attack.
The Captain: Simon Katich. Has represented Australia in all three formats of the game after making his international debut in 2001. His last limited overs matches for Australia were in 2006 and in 2007 he had his national contract cut. He did, however, make an unprecedented return to the national set-up, but his career ended when he fell out with Michael Clarke.
The Coach: Justin Langer. Played 105 Test matches for Australia and has scored the seventh most runs of any Australian in Test cricket. He played for Australia from 1993-2007. He took over as coach of the Scorchers in 2012.
The Key Player: Shaun Marsh. He will most likely bat at number three for the Scorchers, and he specialises in playing Twenty20 cricket. Last season he led the league run scoring charts, and for this reason he will be a critical addition to the team.
The Imports: Dwayne Smith (West Indies), Alfonso Thomas (South Africa). Smith is an explosive all-rounder who has a strike rate of 135.62 in Twenty20 internationals. He can also bowl handy medium pace. He will be an important asset for the Scorchers with his explosive batting and his versatility as to his position in the batting order. Thomas is a very experienced paceman who has only represented his country once. He has played cricket in Australia, India, England, Bangladesh, South Africa and New Zealand. He has an economy rate of 7.31 over 193 Twenty20 matches.
The Wildcard: Mitchell Marsh. A hard-hitting middle order batsman and a good pace bowler. In the first season of the BBL he was the second highest run scorer. Marsh is able to make an impact both with the bat and with the ball, and can change games on both fronts.
Prediction: 4th The Sorchers should just scrape into the finals due to their stellar middle order. If the Marsh brothers, Smith, Voges and Katich are able to fire they may have a chance of launching a title charge.
Home Ground: Sydney Cricket Ground
Squad: Brad Haddin (c/wk), Sean Abbott, Ravi Bopara, Trent Copeland, Mark Cosgrove, Ben Dwarshuis, Josh Hazlewood, Moises Henriques, Brett Lee, Michael Lumb, Nathan Lyon, Nic Maddinson, Marcus North, Steve O’Keefe, Jordan Silk, Daniel Smith, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, Chris Tremlett.
Last Season: 7th After triumph in the inaugural edition of the tournament and the Twenty20 Champions League, last season was poor. Two of their three victories came against the Thunder, who finished last. This season will need to be better if they are to make it into the finals.
Strengths: The Sixers have got some very good all-rounders in their team, with Steve Smith, Steve O’Keefe, Moises Henriques and new recruit Sean Abbott, who was the leading wicket-taker in the Ryobi Cup. Josh Hazlewood, Chris Tremlett, Mitchell Starc and Trent Copeland have all played international cricket. Michael Lumb and Ravi Bopara are great additions to the team.
Weaknesses: As with a few of the BBL teams this season, international duty. Captain Brad Haddin, renowned as one of Australia’s premier gloveman, is unavailable, and while Smith has been released for one match, he won’t have any other breaks until finals. During Nathan Lyon’s six-match absence the spin attack will be weakened.
The Captain: Brad Haddin. An excellent ‘keeper and batsman who has been in great form, scoring 325 runs in the first three matches at an average of 65. It is very unfortunate that he won’t be available until finals due to international duty.
The Coach: Trevor Bayliss. A player from 1985-1997 and took over the reins at the Blues in 2004. He coached Sri Lanka from 2007-2011, and is currently in charge of the Sixers and the Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL.
The Key Player: Marcus North. A middle-order batsman and spinner who has represented Australia in all three forms of the game. He isn’t the most aggressive player but he has the ability to steady the innings wherever he bats. He is in excellent form in the Sheffield Shield, and he may be a candidate for the captaincy in Haddin’s absence.
The Imports: Ravi Bopara (England), Michael Lumb (England), Chris Tremlett (England). Bopara is a middle order batsman who has played for England over three formats. He is an ODI specialist, and he has played 94 matches for his country. He is an occasional medium pace bowler and he will be sure to add variety to the attack. Lumb is a top order batsman who specialises in the shortest form of the game. He scores at a rate of 142.52 in this format, and he will be able to take control of the opening partnership. This will make him a great asset to the team. Tremlett has, like Bopara, represented England in all three formats, although he has found greater success in the longest form of the game. He is a tall fast bowler, although he may be called back into the English Test team after a potential injury to Stuart Broad.
The Wildcard: Moises Henriques. An an excellent all-rounder, who bowls well and is able to pitch in with the bat, as he showed in his brief foray into Test cricket this year. He can change the game with a quick knock, or hold the innings together in a tight run chase.
Prediction: 7th The Sixers have fallen behind some of the competition, and while it will be an interesting season, the loss of Haddin and Smith may derail their campaign. Watch out for Abbott, who is a future prospect.
Home Ground: ANZ Stadium
Colour: Electric Green
Squad: Michael Clarke (c), Cameron Borgas, Ryan Carters (wk), Scott Coyte, Tillikaratne Dilshan, Jake Doran, Luke Doran, Luke Feldman, Jason Floros, Daniel Hughes, Mike Hussey, Usman Khawaja, Jeremy Maher, Ajantha Mendis, Eoin Morgan, Dirk Nannes, Kurtis Patterson, Gurinder Sandhu, Chris Tremain, David Warner, Chris Woakes.
Last Season: 8th It was a dismal effort from the Thunder last season, who lost every match. The team was inexperienced and they have made a significant effort to improve this, signing Mike Hussey, Tillikaratne Dilshan, Chris Woakes, Eoin Morgan, David Warner and Ajantha Mendis.
Strengths: The Thunder have improved their squad in every area leading into the season. Hussey, Dilshan, Woakes, Morgan, Warner, Mendis, Michael Clarke, Dirk Nannes and Usman Khawaja make for a very solid base. The young players from last season are more experienced, and this will contribute to better overall performance.
Weaknesses: It will be a very difficult season depth-wise. International player rules prevent them from fielding more than two of their imports in the same match, and international call-ups mean that Clarke will miss the whole regular season and Warner will play the first match before only becoming available again in finals. The squad’s depth will be tested due to this and it remains to be seen whether they can cope.
The Captain: Michael Clarke. A very experienced cricketer and has been captain of the Australian Test and ODI teams since Ricky Ponting’s resignation. Clarke has led the Australians through a very tough period, and his batting form has improved since his appointment.
The Coach: Chandika Hathurusingha. Played from 1989-2005. He played 26 Tests and 35 ODIs for Sri Lanka, and he is currently coach of New South Wales. He was a successful opening batsmen and he forged a successful partnership with Roshan Mahanama.
The Key Player: Mike Hussey. A player who has a lot of experience. He finished his Test career in this year’s Sydney Test against Sri Lanka. He is an excellent fieldsman and he is the kind of player who can hold an innings together, but score if necessary.
The Imports: Tillikaratne Dilshan (Sri Lanka), Ajantha Mendis (Sri Lanka), Eoin Morgan (England), Chris Woakes (England). Dilshan opens the innings for his country in all three forms of the game. He is an aggressive player and he likes to play his strokes. While he can be shut down by an excellent fielding performance he has some great variety strokes, such as a cheeky scoop over the keepers head. Mendis is a spinner who specialises in limited overs cricket. He has come to fame as one of the most unpredictable spinners in world cricket. In last year’s World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka he broke the record for best bowling in a T20I, taking 6-8 against Zimbabwe. Morgan is a middle order batsman who also specialises in limited overs cricket. He has represented England in all three forms of the game, but began his international career with Ireland. He is an aggressive player, and has a strike rate of 130.37 in Twenty20 cricket. Woakes is yet another limited overs specialist from England who has represented his country in all three forms of the game. He is an all-rounder who bats in the lower middle order, and he is a hard hitter towards the end of the innings. He took 6-45 against Australia when the English last toured.
The Wildcard: Dirk Nannes. Nannes may be old (37) but on his day he is one of the most lethal death bowlers in the world. If he can pull some of those performances out of the bag he will be one of the most exciting players to watch in this season’s tournament.
Prediction: 5th Expect some measured improvement from the Thunder this year, as they have improved their squad greatly. They should mount a finals challenge, but the restrictions on some of their best players may be harmful.
Nick Obst is editor of The Leg Slip.