'Developing Victoria's own' vital for 'Gades new cricket boss

Former head coach Wade Seccombe wants more Victorians playing Big Bash as he begins his high performance role with Melbourne Renegades

Wade Seccombe, the Melbourne Renegades new high performance chief, has vowed to get more Victorians into the state's Big Bash sides in a bid to emulate the success of his former club Brisbane Heat.

Twelve fully contracted Victorian men's players were without a KFC BBL deal last season (not including BBL replacement players) despite the state fielding two teams in the T20 competition.

That figure was the highest it's ever been since the inception of the competition 13 years ago and was four more than any other state for BBL|13.

Tasmania and South Australia both had eight state-contracted players not attached to one of the eight BBL clubs, while NSW, who also have two Big Bash clubs under their umbrella, had seven.

Melbourne Stars (six) also had the fewest local men's players – either contracted to the state the club is based in or who had come through their pathway programs – than any other team, with the Renegades the third fewest (nine) after Hobart Hurricanes (seven).

Seccombe's Heat on the other hand filled 14 of their 15 domestic list spots with players of Queensland origin, including BBL|13 title-winning skipper Nathan McSweeney who had previously captained the state's under-17, under-19 and second XI sides before joining South Australia.

The competition's most successful club, Perth Scorchers, went one further with no interstate talent on their men's list, while perennial contenders Sydney Sixers had 12 contracted players from NSW or who had been part of the state's underage programs, like Jordan Silk.

On the women's side the representation is higher, with Poppy Gardner the only contracted Victorian who went without a Weber WBBL|09 deal, but the Renegades brought in four players from interstate, the most among the eight clubs.

It all means Victoria is an importer of T20 talent, something Seccombe told he is determined to change.

Will Sutherland, Jake Fraser-McGurk and Fergus O'Neill are part of a core of young Victorian players at the Renegades // Getty

The former Heat and Queensland head coach, who resigned from both roles in March, has been appointed to Cricket Victoria's new T20 high performance role attached to the Renegades.

"We've got to get more Victorian cricketers involved in BBL teams," the 52-year-old said ahead of his move from Brisbane to Melbourne last week.

"The women have a really high representation from their state squad into the WBBL, but the men need a bit more.

"There's a development approach to try and make sure that we're competitive by developing our own.

"But it's also backing the local players to do the job.

"Once you do have a core of local players doing quite well, then you look beyond your shores only to fill a gap in your side, but ideally you want to be looking first and foremost within the Victorian system to get that link."

Seccombe knows of course that it doesn't necessarily guarantee success. Sydney Thunder contracted 14 men's players of NSW origin last season and finished last.

But the former Bulls gloveman is certain that there needs to be a stronger link between the state and Big Bash programs, which is major reason CV hired him for the new role alongside his Stars' colleague Clint McKay.

"It's a lot clearer in a one team town (like Brisbane) when you've got alignment with the state coaches involved in the BBL sides," Seccombe said.

"And I think that's what we'll try and do; my understanding with Cricket Victoria and both the Stars and Renegades is to create a nice alignment between state programs, men's and women's, into either side.

"That hasn't completely happened in the past, whereas now there's an opportunity, Clint and I will both work in the Victoria programs, as well as in our respective teams.

"We'll both be linking with Victorian coaches to be involved in the BBL and WBBL sides, so getting that alignment piece is really crucial, particularly for the players' development so that we can actually keep a common language and common focus to try and get the best out of those players.

"Obviously, they've got very good development programs in place but I'm going to bring that drive to the T20 side of it so that we're working with the younger players and even developing older players to be more rounded cricketers and improve their T20 cricket.

"It's a bit of a blank canvas for me to actually have a look, see how it goes and then put systems and processes in to make sure that we're getting the best out of everyone."

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State white-ball captain Peter Handscomb was one of those who couldn't find his way onto a BBL list by the start of last season and is potentially a senior player in Seccombe's sights.

Handscomb did return halfway through BBL|13 as an 11th hour replacement for injured Stars wicketkeeper Sam Harper and he's currently leading Leicestershire in the T20 Blast, scoring an unbeaten 75 from 51 balls in their second match of the season.

The 33-year-old has a solid history with the Stars, registering the club's second ever century and averaging 27.80 from 51 appearances across the BBL's first nine seasons before his T20 game suffered after moving to the Hurricanes for BBL|10.

Handscomb is captain of Leicestershire's T20 side in 2024 // X-@leicsccc

Another piece in the puzzle is giving aspiring Victorian cricketers more opportunities to play and develop their skills in the T20 format.

Queensland's T20 Max has been hugely successful in providing the state's Premier cricketers with high-level competition in its first two seasons as well as giving BBL listed players a chance to fine tune their game for the upcoming season.

It's proved a valuable recruiting ground for the Heat, and other clubs such as Hobart Hurricanes, unearthing stars like pace sensation Spencer Johnson, spinner Paddy Dooley and power-hitter Josh Brown, who Seccombe will link up with again at the Renegades after the opener signed a two-year deal in April.

The challenge to establish a similar competition in Melbourne however – one that Seccombe is all too aware of – is the time of year that it would be played with Queensland's weather allowing cricket to be played on turf pitches in winter where they also don't face the same competition with rugby league for access to grounds as Victoria does with Australian rules football.

"One thing is for sure, we need all these players playing more T20 cricket, that's paramount," Seccombe said.

"The more T20 cricket we get into them the better off it's going to be, the more meaningful cricket you get into them, even better."

Victorian Premier Cricket's Super Slam T20 competition was scrapped last summer and replaced with four T20s for each club, played over two weekends either side of Christmas, making it tough for BBL-listed players to take part due to the clash with the BBL season. The T20 Max was run over seven round matches and finals in August and September and featured more than 30 men's BBL players last season, including many from interstate.

"So there's got to be a way that we can look at evolving whether it's Premier Cricket, or having more meaningful games with better competition, second XI, even match scenarios, whatever it looks like, we've got to find a way to get more cricket into them," Seccombe said.

"Queensland have benefited from the T20 Max – the challenge is the time slot that we can find for that in Melbourne, but I'll definitely be looking at that and talking to Clint, talking to all the stakeholders, and see whether there's an opportunity."