Preview: New leadership to propel 'Gades up the table
After two dismal BBL seasons, the Melbourne Renegades have installed a new-look leadership team of Nic Maddinson and Kane Richardson to help them climb back into contention.
Jack Paynter and Riley Alexander
3 December 2021, 12:39 PM AEST
BBL|10 result: Eighth
Squad: Cameron Boyce, Unmukt Chand (India), Zak Evans, Aaron Finch, Jake Fraser-McGurk, Sam Harper, Marcus Harris, Mackenzie Harvey, Zahir Khan (Afghanistan), Josh Lalor, Nic Maddinson (temporarily replaced by Jono Merlo), Shaun Marsh (temporarily replaced by James Seymour), Mohammad Nabi (Afghanistan), James Pattinson, Mitch Perry, Jack Prestwidge, Kane Richardson, Will Sutherland, Reece Topley (England).
Ins: Unmukt Chand, Zahir Khan (Melbourne Stars), Nic Maddinson (Melbourne Stars), Reece Topley
Outs: Noor Ahmed, Peter Hatzoglou (Perth Scorchers), Jon Holland, Benny Howell, Rilee Rossouw, Imran Tahir, Imad Wasim, Beau Webster (Melbourne Stars)
Possible Best XI: Aaron Finch, Shaun Marsh, Nic Maddinson, Jake Fraser-McGurk, Sam Harper (wk), Mackenzie Harvey, Mohammad Nabi, James Pattinson, Kane Richardson, Reece Topley, Zahir Khan
Possible Best XI for first game: Mackenzie Harvey, Aaron Finch, Sam Harper (wk), Jake-Fraser-McGurk, Mohammad Nabi, Jono Merlo, Will Sutherland, James Pattinson, Kane Richardson, Reece Topley, Zahir Khan
No club needs at least a semi-successful season more than the Melbourne Renegades – and they've installed a new leadership team to help them do it.
After just three wins in BBL|09, last season was only marginally better for the Renegades with four victories in what was a dismal campaign for the second successive season.
David Saker has taken over from Michael Klinger as head coach and will have to call upon his local talent early, with a host of experienced names unavailable through injury and red-ball commitments. New skipper Nic Maddison has been named in the Australia A squad and Marcus Harris in the Test squad, while experienced duo Aaron Finch and Shaun Marsh are both under injury clouds.
Not only will this leave them without three of their best top order batters, but also a significant void to fill in the leadership stakes. Saker confirmed Kane Richardson, as the most experienced T20 player on the list, will captain while Maddinson is away, even if Finch takes the field for the first game.
The likes of Mackenzie Harvey, Jake Fraser-McGurk and Sam Harper will need to step up with bat in hand, and after the experience of multiple seasons in the BBL, all three are primed for breakout summers. Mitchell Perry and Zak Evans are other Victorian locals that have shown glimpses in previous seasons and should excite Renegades fans, who should also warm to Jack Prestwidge who relocated south from Brisbane last summer.
The 'Gades will make history this season after securing the first Indian player for the tournament, with top order batter Unmukt Chand joining the Melbourne-based franchise. Chand has experience in the IPL and domestic first-class cricket in India, as well as captaining the Indian Under-19s in 2012, where he made 111 not out in the World Cup final to lead his country to victory over Australia in Townsville.
Bowling will likely be a strong point for the Renegades, with James Pattinson’s recent retirement from Test cricket allowing him to pour all his focus into BBL|11, while England T20 World Cup squad member Reece Topley will provide depth alongside one of the competition’s leading wicket takers in Richardson. Zahir Khan’s defection from the Melbourne Stars will also provide the 'Gades with some strong spinning options, with a fully fit Cameron Boyce returning this summer after a bizarre health scare kept him sidelined for all of BBL|10.
Inside word with Renegades coach David Saker
"We've obviously been hurt a little bit with Shaun Marsh getting injured and Nic Maddinson and Marcus Harris being called to Australian duties, but that's a positive if they're planning for Australia and all that does is give good opportunities for some young players and it will be exciting to watch them play. They're not scared at this stage of the season, you're bringing them in and we're on top of the ladder really.
"We've got some serious players in the team, some of them are unproven, but with lots of talent. I think our bowling group's probably the best in the competition. Getting Jimmy Pattinson for the whole tournament is a huge plus for us. Reece Topley, Zahir Khan, Mohammed Nabi, Cameron Boyce, Will Sutherland, Kane Richardson, we've got some good bowling options for the captain and we've just got to get 150-plus scores to be able to defend."
Player to watch
"Mackenzie Harvey and Jake Fraser-McGurk, they got so much talent, they've played a little bit of cricket, Mac Harvey's played quite a bit now so he's got to play some sort of a leadership role in the first few games when we haven't got the batters that we would usually have. Fraser-McGurk's just a ridiculous talent. If you've seen him play a bit of Shield cricket, he's got that little bit about him that a lot of the great players have. He does remind me of a younger Steven Smith, a younger Glenn Maxwell. Game management and problem solving is the big thing for kids in T20 cricket and if he does that well, he'll be a star."
"Reece Topley, a left-arm fast bowler from England. I've done a little bit of work with him when I was with the England setup … he's been awesome in the England set up and for his county Surrey for the last few years. He can play multiple roles – he can bowl at the start with a new ball and swing it, go through the middle, do something similar to Kane Richardson in the middle and then finish the overs for us as well. He's going to be important given he's left arm, which gives us a bit of a point of difference. Zahir Khan has been really impressive at training and in the games – we see him as a big wicket-taker for us, so we'll be using him through the middle at different times to try to break partnerships. Mohammad Nabi has been around for quite a while. It's great to have someone with that experience. He's had a great World Cup, he's really fit, and then we've got Unmukt Chand, an ex-IPL, exciting top order batter."
"We've got the Strikers the first two games so the obvious one is Rashid (Khan), he's probably the best bowler in the world. It's handy to have some Afghanistan guys in our group to talk through it, but if we handle him quite well, I think we'll post a decent score. Every team has got players that can take a game away from you … for us, it's going to be really concentrating on our game, particularly with what's happened in the last few years. We've got to get our own game right before we start worrying too much about the opposition."
Sign up for BKT Big Bash Tipping this season at tipping.cricket.com.au! Go for the major prize or join a league and take on your friends, family and colleagues.