The third instalment of the Aussie T20 tournament, the Big Bash, kicks off on Friday, featuring the likes of Lasith Malinga, Daniel Vettori and Eoin Morgan. We take a look at the chances of each team...
"The lack of a top quality spinner may prove the only weakness, but that does look the Stars only missing link in what looks to be the premier side in the comp."
The 'glamour' side from the home of cricket and perhaps the side with the strongest line-up on paper. However, the Stars line-up is somewhat ageing and full of players who may be called upon for limited overs international cricket in James Faulkner, Matthew Wade, Glenn Maxwell and, perhaps, Luke Wright.
Shane Warne has finally hung up the boots to concentrate on poker and commentary and the Stars have lost a couple of other fringe players but the nucleus of the side remains strong and they are favourites in the betting at [4.9].
Cameron White, David Hussey and Brad Hodge have all shown how capable they are with the bat on numerous occasions, and if all manage to click, the Stars look full of runs.
Add Wright, all rounders Faulkner and Maxwell, plus wicket-keeper batsman Wade and it will be no surprise if the Stars are regularly posting 170-180+ runs.
In the bowling stocks, Lasith Malinga is potentially the number one T20 exponent on the planet, while John Hastings, Clint McKay and Jackson Bird make a very solid unit.
The lack of a top quality spinner may prove the only weakness, but that does look the Stars only missing link in what looks to be the premier side in the comp.
The Hurricanes are easily the least heralded team in the competition, going relatively unnoticed down in Tasmania; but don't let that fool you, they are a match for anyone on their day.
Despite an indifferent campaign in 2012/13, the Hurricanes have only lost veterans Scott Styris and Jason Krejza, while picking up all rounders Dimitri Mascarenhas and Shoaib Malik. The Pakistan star is a T20 specialist with bat and ball and should inject some life into the Hurricanes lower middle order.
Big hitter Travis Birt is joined by former England batsman Owais Shah who returns for the third consecutive season at Bellerive Oval.
Tim Paine will probably share captaincy duties with Australian number six George Bailey, with the Hurricanes hoping the recent Test debutant will get some time in a purple cap rather as well as a baggy green.
Doug Bollinger, Ben Hilfenhaus and Xavier Doherty provide plenty of experience with the ball, but the stocks on the ground do look a little thin were any to get injured.
The Strikers have retained captain and South African spinner Johan Botha and look to have a first class spin attack despite losing Saeed Ajmal. Adam Zampa and Jon Holland will try to take the pace off the ball, especially given the surface at Adelaide Oval is usually a batsman's paradise.
Premier spinner Nathan Lyon has been lost to the Sixers while West Indian all rounder Kieron Pollard will sadly be missing from the competition this year. The huge hitting Trinidadian is a big loss to the Strikers but English opener Alex Hales has been signed in his place and he will hopefully slot in seamlessly, regularly blasting the ball over the fences in the short form of the game, starring for the Renegades in 2012/13.
Callum Ferguson is a quality batsman at first drop and Philip Hughes has plenty of experience, despite being just 25 years old. All-rounder Andrew McDonald is back in the mix, Kane Ferguson should add to his burgeoning reputation with the ball and Shaun Tait is still box office whenever he bowls; meaning the inconsistent Strikers are always an entertaining team to watch.
The defending champions look to have it all to do despite winning the title away in Perth, having lost coach Darren Lehmann and subsequently putting in a horror show in the T20 champions league in India.
Veteran James Hopes again skippers the side and other than the loss of Kemar Roach and Thisasra Perera (both uncontracted) the Heat haven't had too much upheaval.
Daniel Vettori has always been a master spin bowler in any format and if Nick Buchanan (the son of of former Aussie coach John) can stay fit, the Heat may have a serious player on their hands.
English wicket keeper batsman Craig Kieswetter has been brought in to add some big hitting to the line-up and the Johannesburg born right-hander can really attack when in full flight.
Ryan Harris, Shane Watson and Mitchell Johnson are all on the Heat's roster, but the Ashes schedule will determine how much (if any) cricket the get in the teal of the Heat.
The Sixers were very disappointing in BBL02 and put in a poor effort of defending their inaugural title; bigger things are expected this time around.
The always dangerous Brett Lee will dust off his boots to go round one more time and youngster Josh Hazlewood will surely benefit from his tutelage as he realises more of his potential.
Chris Tremlett and Ravi Bopara have been added for some English flavour while Marcus North and Nathan Lyon certainly strengthen both the batting and bowling ranks.
Watch out for 21 year old Jordan Silk to be a surprise. Their are bigger names in the Sixers line-up but the right hander is a star of the future.
Nic Maddinson is another young star with the bat. Michael Lumb either scores none or plenty at the top of the order. Brad Haddin and Steve Smith (international duties aside) are lethal when they get going and Bopara is as streaky as they come. There could be lots of runs or not many at all.
Two-time runners up in BBL01 and BBL02, the Scorchers will be looking to go one better this time around, but look a little short against a couple of the other sides on paper.
Their spin bowling department can't be questioned with Michael Beer and Brad Hogg both wily veterans in the short format while Ashton Agar will be hoping his performances will improve in the care of the experienced duo.
All rounder Mitchell Marsh was in devastating form in BBL01 but was shackled by injury last year and will be looking to make up for lost time, while brother Shaun will be hoping to replicate BBL02 where he finished as leading run-scorer.
Mike Hussey has been lost to the Thunder, Marcus North to the Sixers and Herschelle Gibbs has not been picked up again and the loss of three high quality batsman does pose questions about the strength of the Scorchers batting line up.
West Indian all rounder Dwayne Smith will fill some of the void and Simon Katich is still around at the top of the order but the Scorchers look like they might be a bit short with the bat in hand this time around.
The 'lesser' team in the sporting capital but most certainly ones to watch in BBL03. Lost only once in 2012/13 but couldn't convert in the finals, the Renegades will surely be looking for a much better return this time round.
West Indian Marlon Samuels (of Shane Warne bat throwing fame) has been lost uncontracted, but Peter Siddle has been picked up along with James Pattinson (when fit) and Mohammed Hafeez who was the first player to score 1,000 T20 runs and take 40 plus wickets and is the leading run scorer for Pakistan in T20s.
Better still, the Renegades have picked up Jos Buttler, a wicket keeper batsman who burst onto the international scene recently with 50 off just 17 balls against New Zealand. He is definitely one to watch.
Add to Buttler with Aaron Finch (perhaps the best T20 batsman in the country) and the roof at Etihad stadium looks under serious threat.
Veteran spinner Muttiah Muralidaran still has every trick in the book, despite being 41 years old and the Renegades will be looking to him and Fawad Ahmed to tie the opposition in knots.
Don't be surprised if the Renegades are right there at the business end again in 2013/14.
The Thunder have been taken apart and completely rebuilt over the summer with the headline loss of Chris Gayle the main talking point.
The doors have been revolving quickly out west with 11 out of the door and 10 new faces in including 'Mr Cricket' Mike Hussey and England one-day specialist Eoin Morgan the drawcards.
David Warner has also switched allegiance, but surely won't get much international time off, while the Sri Lankan duo Ajantha Mendis and Tillekaratne Dilshan arrive on Australian soil with impeccable T20 records making the Thunder a much stronger proposition than in BBL02.
The hard hitting Gayle will definitely be missed at the top of the order, but the silky, wristy skills of Dilshan are a more than adequate replacement and Morgan and Hussey make up as formidable number five and six as any side in the competition.
All rounder Chris Woakes is a fine player with both bat and ball but he and Mendis do look like they will have to carry the Thunder with the ball as the rest of the list looks a tad bare.
Dirk Nannes has plenty of international know how and Gurinder Sandhu has shown promising signs so far but the cupboard isn't overflowing with bowling talent and a lack of another decent spinner does look a problem.
The Thunder finished bottom in both BBL01 and BBL02 and will be desperate to avoid a third consecutive wooden spoon. the squad they have assembled should avoid that, but might not have enough to reach the final four.
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