Big Bash forecast: How each squad is shaping up
A club-by-club look at potential recruitments and plans in place in the wake of this week's BBL schedule announcement
16 July 2021, 12:54 PM AEST
This week's announcement of the KFC BBL|11 schedule also saw the League finally lift the player contracting embargo that had been in place since last season's finish.
Clubs' planning had been in limbo as league officials pressed forward in the hope of introducing a player draft, an ambitious ploy given the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. But with that proposed draft again shelved for at least another 12 months, they can now build their lists with certainty.
That squad list has this year reverted to 18 players, including up to three international signings, after last year's late expansion to 19 players, which allowed for an additional international player.
Three internationals are again allowed in the playing XI, although further clarity on the playing conditions for BBL|11 such as the introduction of a cut-down version of the DRS and the likely return of the Power Surge, X-Factor sub and Bash Boost point, will not come until later in the year.
With Afghanistan and England squads Australia bound – including an expanded England Lions touring party – for the Test summer, those players are expected to feature heavily in clubs' recruiting plans.
We take a look at where all eight clubs currently stand.
BBL|11 squad (so far): Wes Agar, Alex Carey, Harry Conway, Travis Head (c), Spencer Johnson, Harry Nielsen, Liam O'Connor, Matthew Renshaw, Liam Scott, Peter Siddle, Jon Wells, Daniel Worrall.
BBL|10 players off contract: Danny Briggs (ENG), Rashid Khan (AFG), Michael Neser, Phil Salt (ENG), Matt Short, Cameron Valente, Jake Weatherald.
The Adelaide Strikers made an immediate move to confirm the return of Peter Siddle for BBL|11 as soon as the contracting window opened, a sure-fire indicator of the 36-year-old veteran's eagerness to go around again.
They currently have six open spots on their roster, and top of the priority list now the draft has been canned will be securing the return of fan favourite Rashid Khan. Rashid has long professed his love for Adelaide as well as head coach Jason Gillespie, and much of Adelaide's input into the potential for a player draft was on how they would be able to keep their star international.
Other big names out of contract include Michael Neser, although Adelaide may be wondering how much they will see of the seam bowler with a six-Test summer where he'll be looking to earn a Baggy Green.
And Jake Weatherald impressed in his first foray into a foreign T20 league with the Quetta Gladiators in the rescheduled Pakistan Super League but has not yet signed on with any club.
BBL|11 squad (so far): Tom Banton (ENG), Xavier Bartlett, Tom Cooper, Sam Heazlett, Chris Lynn, Jimmy Peirson, Mark Steketee, Mitchell Swepson, Matthew Willans.
BBL|10 players off contract: James Bazley, Max Bryant, Joe Burns, Lewis Gregory (ENG), Matthew Kuhnemann, Marnus Labuschagne, Ben Laughlin, Dan Lawrence (ENG), Morne Morkel, Mujeeb Ur Rahman (AFG), Jack Wildermuth.
Chris Lynn has stood down as captain of the Brisbane Heat, and while Darren Lehmann survived an external review into the Heat's culture and performance to earn a one-year extension as the club's head coach in late April, by July he had also stepped aside.
Lehmann will now be an assistant to new head coach Wade Seccombe, who also coaches the Queensland Bulls in the Marsh Sheffield Shield and One-Day Cup competitions.
A captain hasn't been appointed yet, but anyone other than Jimmy Peirson would be a surprise, after the wicketkeeper had an impressive summer across formats, particularly with the Heat.
They still have room for six domestic players on their list, plus the three internationals. Marnus Labuschagne is out of contract but given the impact he had on the Heat after the India series at the back-end of BBL|10 and his ambition to play all three formats for Australia – as well as seemingly every game of cricket he possibly can – he won't want to stay that way for long.
The Heat face interesting decisions around Max Bryant and Joe Burns, both looking to rebound after a disappointing 2020-21 summer, while Jack Wildermuth, who will have benefited from his trip to the PSL this winter, is also out of contract.
The Heat are one of only two clubs to already have an international player on the books with Tom Banton contracted to return. Lewis Gregory also impressed last summer and has continued to come on in the northern summer, and is a fair chance to be in the country around the England Lions squad, while Brisbane also have a strong connection with Afghanistan players, and are keen for a return for Mujeeb Ur Rahman.
BBL|11 squad (so far): Scott Boland, Tim David. Nathan Ellis, Peter Handscomb, Ben McDermott, Riley Meredith, Mitch Owen, Wil Parker, D'Arcy Short, Matthew Wade (c), Mac Wright.
BBL|10 players off contract: Keemo Paul (WI), Jake Doran, Nick Winter, James Faulkner, Sandeep Lamichhane (NEP), Dawid Malan (ENG), David Moody, Tim Paine, Colin Ingram (SA), Will Jacks (ENG)
Hobart head coach Adam Griffith indicated this week the club would have three new domestic players for BBL|11, which means only two of the uncontracted Jake Doran, Nick Winter, James Faulkner, David Moody and Tim Paine will be retained.
Australia Test captain Paine will have his hands full this summer so it's unlikely he'll take up a spot on the 'Canes roster, while fast bowler Nick Winter has had limited success in limited opportunities, and WA-based quick David Moody has not played for the club since BBL08.
Faulkner, then, is expected to return, with Griffith saying the club was "hopeful of coming to some agreement" with the 31-year-old soon on the back of his excellent form in the Pakistan Super League.
The Hurricanes may see Matthew Wade and D'Arcy Short reunited at the top of the order this summer. Wade was axed from Cricket Australia's central contract list and dropped from the Test squad for the subsequently cancelled South Africa tour.
Griffith, who said he "had been planning for no (international player) draft for quite a while", was confident of landing their international targets, which he indicated would be "a mix of new and old" players.
BBL|11 squad (so far): Cameron Boyce, Zak Evans, Aaron Finch (c), Jake Fraser-McGurk, Sam Harper, Marcus Harris, Mackenzie Harvey, Josh Lalor, Shaun Marsh, James Pattinson, Mitch Perry, Jack Prestwidge, Kane Richardson, Will Sutherland.
BBL|10 players off contract: Jon Holland, Mohammad Nabi (AFG), Rilee Rossouw (SAf), Imran Tahir (SAf), Beau Webster, Noor Ahmad(AFG), Benny Howell (ENG), Imad Wasim (PAK),
The Renegades are well advanced in their recruiting, with many of their younger talent on multi-year deals. But the fact remains the club has won just seven of its 28 games since clinching the BBL|08 title.
The club has four vacant spots on its 18-man roster, including three for internationals.
One of those off contract is last summer's Big Bash viral sensation Peter Hatzoglou – a late pick-up for the club when Cameron Boyce was struck down with medical issues – who took the league by storm on-field with his high-speed leg-breaks and off-field by the social media users of Gen Z.
The club has a new head coach this season with former Australia fast bowling coach David Saker taking the reins for his second stint. Saker said an international allrounder who can bat in the top six will be "high on the priority list".
That seems especially pertinent after cricket.com.au reported in May that the off-contract Beau Webster was likely to play elsewhere this summer, with the Melbourne Stars expected to land his signature.
In a curious case of cross-town swapsies, the Renegades have also been linked with securing the mercurial Nic Maddinson from the Stars.
The Renegades will also be hunting for international fast-bowling reinforcements for Kane Richardson, with James Pattinson likely to spend the bulk of the summer with the Test squad.
They will also need more from their captain Aaron Finch, who had a horror BBL|10, averaging just 13.76 across his 13 games with a top score of 39.
BBL|11 squad (so far): Hilton Cartwright, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Seb Gotch, Liam Hatcher, Clint Hinchliffe, Nick Larkin, Glenn Maxwell (c), Tom O'Connell, Billy Stanlake, Marcus Stoinis, Adam Zampa.
BBL|10 players off contract: Andre Fletcher (WI), Zahir Khan (AFG), Nic Maddinson, Lance Morris, Nicholas Pooran (WI), Sam Rainbird, Dilbar Hussain (PAK), Harris Rauf (PAK)
The Melbourne Stars were chastened to not even make the finals last summer, having been runners up in BBL|08 and BBL|09.
Their core of Australia stars Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis and Adam Zampa will again be instrumental to the Stars' fortunes with no international white-ball conflicts with BBL|11.
They'll also be hoping for better luck with their international recruits. England firebrand Jonny Bairstow pulled out of his planned stint only weeks before the start of BBL|10 due to an England Test recall and Dilbar Hussain suffered a quad injury, while Nicholas Pooran and Haris Rauf were only available for part of the season.
The expected arrival of Webster from the Renegades adds another interesting piece to the puzzle.
BBL|11 squad (so far): Ashton Agar, Cameron Bancroft, Jason Behrendorff, Aaron Hardie, Josh Inglis, Mitch Marsh, Kurtis Patterson, Jhye Richardson, Ashton Turner, Andrew Tye.
BBL|10 players off contract: Fawad Ahmed, Cameron Gannon, Cameron Green, Liam Livingstone (ENG), Colin Munro (NZ), Joel Paris, Jason Roy (ENG), Liam Guthrie, Corey Rocchiccioli, Joe Clarke (ENG), Sam Whiteman.
Last season's beaten finalists retain the WA-centric core of their group again, but the Scorchers will be wary that Jhye Richardson may yet spend the summer with Australia's Test squad.
That's likely to have flow-on effects for the Scorchers' international recruiting, with head coach Adam Voges indicating he may look abroad for fast-bowling reinforcements to go with Australia white-ball internationals Jason Behrendorff and Andrew Tye.
Mitch Marsh may also yet find himself in the Test squad frame as well, and could well be pushing for a move into the top three for Perth given his current form in that role for Australia on their Caribbean tour.
It's going to lead to a tough decision with Colin Munro, Liam Livingstone and Jason Roy all excellent for the Scorchers last summer.
This season will mark the first time since BBL|06 the Scorchers start with a home game. The flip side is, with Perth hosting the fifth Ashes Test this summer, they will close the season with three road games.
BBL|11 squad (so far): Sean Abbott, Dan Christian, Tom Curran (ENG), Ben Dwarshuis, Jack Edwards, Mickey Edwards, Moises Henriques (c), Daniel Hughes, Hayden Kerr, Nathan Lyon, Ben Manenti, Josh Philippe, Lloyd Pope, Jordan Silk.
BBL|10 players off contract: Justin Avendano, Jake Ball (ENG), Jackson Bird, Carlos Brathwaite (WI), Stephen O'Keefe, Mitchell Starc, James Vince (ENG)
The Sixers are seeking to build a dynasty, and have a very settled list of domestic talent, with only four spots open, two of which will be taken by internationals with England's Tom Curran already contracted to return.
The Sixers are also desperate to see James Vince back in magenta, particularly after his efforts at the back end of their title run last summer.
Jackson Bird is off-contract but the lure of a 'three-peat' should see him return, while Stephen O'Keefe has yet to confirm his future. But with Nathan Lyon to be spending his summer with the Test squad, the 36-year-old may be tempted to go around again.
BBL|11 squad (so far): Jonathan Cook, Ben Cutting, Matt Gilkes, Chris Green, Usman Khawaja, Nathan McAndrew, Alex Ross, Daniel Sams, Tanveer Sangha, Chris Tremain.
BBL|10 players off contract: Sam Billings (ENG), Oliver Davies, Brendan Doggett, Alex Hales (ENG), Baxter Holt, Adam Milne (NZ), Arjun Nair, Jason Sangha.
The Sydney Thunder's biggest off-season move so far has been to secure ODI World Cup-winning coach Trevor Bayliss, who has taken his first role since his stint with England.
Bayliss is a canny signing, not just because of his international experience and love for Western Sydney, but he is also well-placed to leverage his England connections.
Alex Hales has been a stand-out performer for the Thunder and continuing that relationship seems an obvious move. If Bayliss were able to convince his former England captain Eoin Morgan to return to the Thunder, that combination would make for an interesting dressing-room dynamic given Hales' exile from the national team.
Former coach Shane Bond left after making some big moves at the back end of last summer, none more so than the decision to de-list club captain Callum Ferguson, who is yet to land at a new home. Usman Khawaja seems an obvious candidate to take over the Thunder captaincy.
The Thunder's crop of youthful Western Sydney talent such as Oliver Davies, Arjun Nair and Jason Sangha all currently remain off-contract, but it would be a shock if any of them were to move on.