It is often said that the AFL holds the unofficial title of the longest off season in sport, and if I was a Tigers fan you would be hard pressed to convince me otherwise right about now.
However, for us cricket fanatics the Big Bash League, off season certainly does not feel any shorter, and for very good reason at over 10 months in length.
The good news for fantasy BBL nuts however is that as the weather heats up and footy ovals are quickly transformed into cricketing battlefields, the countdown to BBL05 is well and truly underway. It is 94 days, to be precise, until the Thunder host the Sixers at their new permanent home fortress Spotless Stadium on December 17th. This year we will also witness the inaugural season of the long anticipated WBBL, kicking off on December 5th.
As we wait patiently in anticipation over the coming three months I endeavour to look back on some of the more notable stories in an off season that, whilst frantic, has unfolded very much away from the media and public eye.
White Signs With Renegades
With 199 games worth of experience Cameron White is one of the most experience T20 players in the Australian domestic scene. However at the conclusion of BBL04 that experience was deemed surplus to the Stars’ requirements and the former Australian captain was not offered a new contract. His season, which yielded only the one half century, did him no favours.
At 31 years of age the Stars’ cross town rivals in red recognised the contribution White could make in the years to come and locked him in as a Renegade for the next three seasons.
White is not the first Star to defect to the Docklands based team, following in the footsteps of Peter Siddle, James Pattinson and Matthew Wade. White will be looking to earn in place in a formidable top order batting line up that boasts the talented likes of Wade, captain Aaron Finch, star signing Chris Gayle and Callum Ferguson.
Hoggy To Go ‘Round Again
If there’s ever been a cricketer deserving of a contract merely for sentimental value Brad Hogg is surely the man. Fortunately for cricket fans in Perth Hoggy is still one of the nation’s most dangerous spin bowlers and in BBL05 the left arm chinaman will again go around for the boys in orange.
Is there any slowing down this almost 45 year old? It appears not. With 7 wickets in 6 matches @ 18.29 and an economy rate of a crazy 5.33 runs an over he was crucial to the Scorchers title defence last season.
After a strong showing for the Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League over the off season there is no reason to believe Hoggy will be any less of a vital cog in the Scorchers quest for a three peat.
Kumar Sangakkara Heads Down Under
If there’s one thing the people of the Apple Isle love, apart from their cricket of course, it’s a cult hero. Who could forget the clutch death bowling of ‘The People’s Mullet’ Rana Naved-ul-Hasan in BBL01? Or the pinch hitting exploits of Darren Sammy against the Stars last year, striking 38 off 12 balls to lift his side to a defendable total of 190?
In BBL05 Canes’ fans will have a new hero to cheer as Kumar Sangakkara pulls on the purple uniform for the next two years.
With over 28,000 International runs to his name he may very well be the best player to ever appear in this young, but flourishing, competition. Along with the returning Darren Sammy, BBL03 player of the tournament Ben Dunk, George Bailey and Tim Paine, he will form a batting line up sure to strike fear into any bowling attack.
The Hurricanes have been big movers and shakers this off season, in addition to Sangakkara they’ve added the signatures of Shaun Tait and Dan Christian to their books for the coming summer. After a disappointing season in which they fell two wins short of finals contention this is a side which looks set to bounce right back in BBL05.