Sport Cricket Big Bash League: It’s back! Excitement high ahead of seventh season

Big Bash League: It’s back! Excitement high ahead of seventh season

Perth Scorchers
Perth has won three of the six Big Bash League finals. Photo: Getty
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For the first time, the Big Bash League has grown.

Not with new teams, but more matches, up from 35 to 43, as Cricket Australia takes a softly-softly approach to expanding its summer cash cow, which begins its seventh season on Tuesday when the Sydney Thunder hosts the Sydney Sixers.

The BBL is now a staple of the Australian summer – and an extraordinarily popular one at that.

It averaged more than one million television viewers per match last season and crowds of over 30,000 (making it the fifth-best attended sports league in the world), meaning new teams and more expansion is inevitable.

The same eight teams remain for the 2017-18 season as the likes of international stars Brendon McCullum, Kevin Pietersen and Dwayne Bravo mix it with Aussie favourites Mitchell Johnson, Shane Watson, Glenn Maxwell and Aaron Finch.

Finch and Bravo are joined by experienced trio Brad Hogg, Cameron White and Brad Hodge at the Melbourne Renegades, one of the competition favourites.

“It’s one of our strongest ever squads,” Renegades batsman Tom Cooper told The New Daily.

“We’ve strengthened all the key areas and blokes on our bench will be playing in most other teams.

“I’m very excited. It’s an unbelievable competition and we just need to do a bit better in our close games and it will go a long way.”

When asked about other teams that will pose a strong challenge to the Renegades, Cooper unsurprisingly opts for defending champions Perth Scorchers and the Brisbane Heat, who, with big-hitting batsmen McCullum and Chris Lynn can “chase down anything”.

The pair, dubbed ‘The Bash Brothers’, are ready to go and teammate Alex Ross is excited.

“I’ve often got the best seat in the house, at the other end, when they are on song. I can’t wait,” he told The New Daily.

“They both love this form of the game. We’re going to play positive, aggressive cricket again.

“It’s a great time of year in Australian cricket, with the Ashes and the Big Bash.”

Brisbane Heat
McCullum and Lynn make for a powerful combination. Photo: Getty

Media expert Dr Sam Duncan said it is “absolutely amazing” the competition is so popular, given its age, but said that it was an incredibly appealing product.

“It is a product built to entertain. It is short, sharp, there’s a lot of flashpoints so kids love it, it appeals to female audiences more and it’s on every night over the holiday period,” he told The New Daily.

“That it’s so popular says a lot about our consumer habits. We like to be stimulated and entertained.

“And Network 10 have nailed it in terms of the broadcast. The tone is appropriate for the product as it is so relaxed and entertaining.”

Team-by-team guide

Perth Scorchers 
Coach: Justin Langer
Captain: Adam Voges
Star Man: Mitchell Johnson
Overseas Players: David Willey (England)
Last Year: Champions
Prediction: Runners-Up

Sydney Sixers 
Coach: Greg Shipperd
Captain: Moises Henriques
Star Man: Sean Abbott
Overseas Players: Sam Billings (England), Jason Roy (England)
Last Year: Runners-Up
Prediction: Semi-Finalists

Brisbane Heat
Coach: Daniel Vettori
Captain: Brendon McCullum
Star Man: Chris Lynn
Overseas Players: McCullum (New Zealand), Shadab Khan (Pakistan), Yasir Shah (Pakistan – international replacement)
Last Year: Semi-Finalists
Prediction: Semi-Finalists

Melbourne Stars
Coach: Stephen Fleming
Captain: John Hastings
Star Man: Kevin Pietersen
Overseas Players: Pietersen (England), Luke Wright (England)
Last Year: Semi-Finalists
Prediction: Fifth

Melbourne Renegades
Coach: Andrew McDonald
Captain: Aaron Finch
Star Man: Brad Hogg
Overseas Players: Dwayne Bravo (West Indies), Mohammad Nabi (Afghanistan), Kieron Pollard (West Indies – international replacement)
Last Year: Fifth
Prediction: Champions

Brad Hogg
Brad Hogg will turn 47 soon, but batsmen still can’t pick his wrong-un. Photo: Getty

Adelaide Strikers 
Coach: Jason Gillespie
Captain: Travis Head
Star Man: Travis Head
Overseas Players: Colin Ingram (South Africa), Rashid Khan (Afghanistan)
Last Year: Sixth
Prediction: Eighth

Hobart Hurricanes
Coach: Gary Kirsten
Captain: George Bailey
Star Man: George Bailey
Overseas Players: Tymal Mills (England), Jofra Archer (West Indies)
Last Year: Seventh
Prediction: Seventh

Sydney Thunder
Coach: Paddy Upton
Captain: Shane Watson
Star Man: Jos Buttler
Overseas Players: Jos Buttler (England), Mitchell McLenaghan (New Zealand)
Last Year: Eighth
Prediction: Sixth

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