Sport Cricket The Big Bash is back but which teams are ready to challenge for the title in BBL08?
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The Big Bash is back but which teams are ready to challenge for the title in BBL08?

BBL08 preview
Chris Lynn, of the Heat, should provide plenty of excitement in BBL08. Photo: Getty
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‘TIS the season for T20 on the telly every night with BBL08 – yep, the domestic comp is now into its eighth summer.

The 59-game tournament spans nearly two months and boasts a further four games this season with every team playing each other twice.

Under a new broadcast deal, Fox Sports will show all matches, including 16 exclusively, with 43 games free-to-air on Channel Seven.

There are new faces at every club while spin to win remains the key ingredient for success.

The ADELAIDE STRIKERS are shaping up to again be a force, retaining the bulk of their BBL07 title-winning squad, and winning the first match, with a final-over win over the Brisbane Heat on Wednesday.

Star leggie Rashid Khan shone last summer with 18 wickets at 13.83, then missed the final through international commitments, but is available for the entire BBL08.

Seamer Ben Laughlin is 15 wickets away from being the first bowler to notch 100 BBL wickets, while the likes of Jake Lehmann, Michael Nesser and new skipper Colin Ingram should ensure the Strikers are again a tough proposition.

Matt Short is a solid addition from the Renegades, with the Strikers to lose Alex Carey for the ODI series against India.

BRISBANE HEAT’s Bash Brothers Chris Lynn and Brendon McCullum again loom big, Lynn replacing McCullum as captain.

Lynn whacked 113 off just 45 balls in a Queensland Premier fixture this month, and McCullum is primed for another batting bonanza, after posting two half-centuries on the way to 248 runs last season.

Nineteen-year-old big hitter Max Bryant is eyeing a spot in the batting family this season.

Eyes will be on 17-year-old Afghani spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman who has an impressive trick bag and captured attention during his IPL campaign with Kings XI Punjab, and a fit and firing James Pattinson is a seriously hot addition to the Heat attack.

HOBART HURRICANES

Twelve months ago, Tim Paine wouldn’t have anticipated missing BBL08 because he would be Australian Test captain but even in his absence, the Hurricanes have plenty of fire with the bat thanks to reining leading run scorer D’Arcy Short, Matthew Wade, Ben McDermott and skipper George Bailey.

Short amassed 572 runs last summer at 57.22, striking at 148.57, and again sets the tone at the top of the order.

Journeyman Johan Botha is a solid inclusion while James Faulkner has swapped the Stars green for Hobart purple.

MELBOURNE RENEGADES have lost openers Aaron Finch and Marcus Harris to Test duties but welcome one of the best T20 players in the world,  Dan Christian who makes runs for fun in whatever league he plays.

Fresh from winning the Mzansi Super League with the Jozi Stars this week, the gun-for-hire all-rounder has won six titles from 10 finals.

Afghanistan all-rounder Mohammad Nabi returns after a dazzling debut in red with Pakistan left-arm quick Usman Khan Shinwari joins him as the ‘Gades other international signing.

MELBOURNE STARS have undergone an overhaul after finishing last in BBL07.

All-rounder Dwayne Bravo makes the switch from the cross-town rival complementing Nepalese leg-spinner Sandeep Lamichhane as the club’s two internationals, replacing Luke Wright and Kevin Pietersen.

Boom recruit Nic Maddinson is mending a broken arm suffered in his Shield debut for Victoria, while Seb Gotch and Dan Worrall join him on the sidelines.

Opener Ben Dunk has twice scored the most runs in a BBL campaign but only managed 115 at his new club last season. Expect a big campaign from the left-hander.

Glenn Maxwell replaces retired John Hastings as captain.

PERTH SCORCHERS again look hard to beat with Andrew Tye, Jason Behrendorff, Jhye Richardson and Nathan Coulter-Nile et al forming a world-class attack.

Captain Mitch Marsh’s availability is a win, then there’s veteran opener Michael Klinger, England all-rounder David Willey, who conjured 127 runs and seven wickets last summer, and suspended Cam Bancroft who will be available for selection when his ban expires at the end of the month.

Pakistani leg-spinner Usman Qadir, son of legendary Abdul Qadir, represented WA in the JLT Cup and has earned a contract, providing back up for Ashton Agar.

SYDNEY SIXERS are looking to England duo Joe Denley – who returns after 146 runs in four hits last summer – and 23-year-old, right-arm quick Tom Curran to blaze a path to the finals.

Curran, who will be crucial with both his swing and slower deliveries, made his Test debut for England on Boxing Day last year, claiming Steve Smith as his first scalp.

Moises Henriques, who scored 61 in a practice game against the Thunder on Tuesday, Steve O’Keefe and Sean Abbott are seasoned short-form campaigners who again form a strong nucleus for the men in magenta.

SYDNEY THUNDER has lured England Test captain Joe Root to play in an overseas domestic league for the first time.

Root and England teammate Jos Butler are only available for the first half of the competition then will be replaced by fellow Englishman Chris Jordan and New Zealand’s Anton Devcich.

Callum Ferguson arrives from the Renegades and provides a major boost at No. 3 and captured some form this week against the Sixers with an unbeaten 56 off 34 deliveries. Captain Shane Watson warmed up with 53 before retiring.

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