BBL|09 season preview: Hobart Hurricanes
Coach Adam Griffith discusses the loss of Jofra Archer, the recruitment of David Miller and what he's expecting from his side this season
16 December 2019, 07:01 PM AEST
The dominant team of last season, the Hobart Hurricanes will be looking to make amends for their frustrating semi-final exit that cruelled their chances of a first-ever title.
The Canes have had minimal player movement in the off-season, but the handful of changes to their list are significant. The rise of star quick Jofra Archer for England this year means he won’t be available, while Matthew Wade’s Test call-up has ruled him out for the early part of the tournament.
But the Hurricanes have recruited shrewdly, bringing in former Australia quick Scott Boland from the Melbourne Stars and adding South African power-hitter David Miller to their middle order.
And with Afghan spinner Qais Ahmad to return after an impressive cameo last season, the Canes still have plenty of talent on their list.
The likes of Wade, D’Arcy Short, Ben McDermott and Riley Meredith are outside chances to force their way into Australia’s ODI squad, but the Canes should have a full squad to choose from for the bulk of the tournament if that quartet are overlooked for the tour of India in January.
2018 result: Semi-finalists after finishing first
Squad: Qais Ahmad (Afghanistan), George Bailey, Scott Boland, Jake Doran, Nathan Ellis, James Faulkner, Jarrod Freeman, Caleb Jewell, Ben McDermott, Riley Meredith, Simon Milenko, David Miller (South Africa), David Moody, Tom Rogers, Clive Rose, D’Arcy Short, Aaron Summers, Matthew Wade
(Players can be added during the tournament if squad members are unavailable due to injury or national selection)
In: Scott Boland, Nathan Ellis, David Miller
Out: Jofra Archer, Alex Doolan, Tim Paine
Possible Best XI for season opener: D’Arcy Short, Caleb Jewell, Ben McDermott, David Miller, George Bailey, Simon Milenko, James Faulkner, Clive Rose, Qais Ahmad, Riley Meredith, Nathan Ellis
The inside word with coach Adam Griffith
It’s been pretty low-key for us, we haven’t had a big player turnover. Jofra Archer won’t come back due to his commitments with England, but we’re pretty happy and the continuity has been really important for us, so we haven’t made too many significant changes. We had a few practice games against the Auckland Aces last week and all the boys played club cricket (over the weekend) so we’ve just been getting as much white-ball cricket into them as we can.
Scott Boland is coming back from a side niggle, but he’s back bowling again so we’ll make sure we tick all the boxes for him to be ready to go. He needs to play a bit of cricket now because he hasn’t played for three or four weeks. It’s very doubtful he’ll be around for our first three games but once we get past Christmas, I think we’ll see him back to full fitness.
Qais Ahmad should definitely be available for the whole thing, but we’re expecting David Miller to be out for the finals. We’re still actively looking, and we think we can get one or two more imports into our squad to help strengthen our depth, knowing you can only play two per game but can have up to six on your list. Last year, Tymal Mills went down really early for us … and there was a bit of urgency in certain quarters to push hard and sign someone, but the smart play was to wait and see. We held off and when we lost Johan Botha … there was an opportunity to get a spinner in and Qais was the right man for the job. We’ve got the space on our list and in our salary cap (to add more imports) so we’ll take a look when the season gets underway (and decide) what we need.
Jofra Archer … something significant would have to happen for him to become available. The conversations with the ECB have been if he’s not playing for England, it’s for a reason, whether that’s injury or resting. So we’re working off the assumption that we won’t see him this season.
We always want our players to play at the highest level … so if Shorty goes up or McDermott goes up or Wadey goes up, we’ll adjust accordingly. And that’s why it was so important to get Miller into the batting group because we knew, at a minimum, we’d be missing Wade at the start of the tournament and hopefully one or two of those other guys get picked.
Qais Ahmad is an energetic cricketer, loves competing and loves getting out there. He’s got some really good tricks with the ball … he’s played in a number of leagues around the world now and is only getting better. He just played the three games for us last season and we’re really looking forward to seeing what he can do this year through a whole tournament.
When the Bangladesh Premier League’s structure changed this year, we had a quick look at who was available and David Miller’s name came up, so we jumped on it pretty quick and it all happened in the space of about 24 hours. It’s great to get a young and unproven player in and give them an opportunity, but when a player the calibre of David Miller comes up, you just jump at the opportunity. I see him batting at around that number three or four in the order. Especially with Wadey out for the first part of the tournament, we could probably mix-and-match McDermott and Miller in those two spots.
We saw with Caleb Jewell last year, we picked him because he’d done well but we just wanted him to bat the way he bats and not put any extra pressure on him. Mac Wright will come into our group as a replacement for Wade when he’s international duty and Jake Doran is there as well. So there are three young batters in our group who we don’t want to put too much pressure on. And with senior batters around them, if they get a chance, who knows what can happen with them.
Player to watch
What I see in Scott Boland is a senior bowler who’s taken a lot of wickets at T20 and one-day level. I did a tour of the West Indies a few years ago when he was a fringe bowler in the Australian team and he’s someone who’s got a really even temperament, he doesn’t get flustered in pressure situations and has some really good tricks. He’s got different slower balls and can also bowl at a good pace and hit the wicket hard. He’ll play a role for us with the new ball but probably more so in the middle and at the death. When he gets it right, he’s one of the best going around.
I think it’s the continuity of the players we have. We don’t make too many changes from year to year and that means the group we have understands how we want to play our cricket and understands our culture. That means we don’t panic in pressure situations. We know if we play our roles really well, we can win the game. Our greatest strength is our confidence and our calmness.
In any sport, you’ve got to knock off the champs. The Renegades are the reigning champions and have picked up Shaun Marsh … who is one of the greatest BBL batters. They won it for a reason last year and we’ve all got to beat them this year.