BBL|09 season preview: Melbourne Renegades
New coach Michael Klinger inherits the defending champions and he shares the low-down on what we can expect from his squad in BBL|09
15 December 2019, 02:06 PM AEST
On paper, the defending champions Melbourne Renegades again look a formidable outfit.
Having won their maiden KFC BBL title last summer on the back of bowling discipline (every bowler who sent down more than 10 overs had an economy rate under eight), they've now added the Rolls Royce of BBL batters to their roster in Shaun Marsh.
New coach Michael Klinger, the all-time leading Big Bash runs-scorer, was as surprised as anyone that the Renegades managed to win it all despite only hitting two half-centuries for the tournament.
While Klinger, who takes over from Andrew McDonald, hopes to maintain their miserly bowling this season, he believes the addition of his former Perth Scorchers' teammate Marsh, who averages nearly 50 in the BBL, will ensure they more regularly put up big totals with the bat.
The potential of opening the batting with Marsh and captain Aaron Finch is mouth-watering, but Klinger said their gun recruit may not necessarily take on the new ball.
The club was this week forced into a reshuffle of their overseas players after Usman Shinwari and Faheem Ashraf pulled out just days out from their first game.
Richard Gleeson has been signed as a last-minute replacement and Harry Gurney will now play the full season, with fellow title-winner Mohammad Nabi replacing Gleeson at the back-end of the tournament.
2018 result: Winners
Squad: Cameron Boyce, Dan Christian, Tom Cooper, Zak Evans, Aaron Finch, Jake Fraser-McGurk, Richard Gleeson (England), Harry Gurney (England), Sam Harper, Marcus Harris, Mackenzie Harvey, Jon Holland, Shaun Marsh, Joe Mennie, Mohammed Nabi (Afghanistan), Kane Richardson, Will Sutherland, Beau Webster, Jack Wildermuth
(Players can be added during the tournament if squad members are unavailable due to injury or national selection)
In: Shaun Marsh, Richard Gleeson, Jake Fraser-McGurk
Out: Chris Tremain (Sydney Thunder), Cameron White (Adelaide Strikers), Tim Ludeman
Possible best XI for season opener: Aaron Finch (c), Shaun Marsh, Marcus Harris, Sam Harper (wk), Tom Cooper, Dan Christian, Jack Wildermuth, Kane Richardson, Cameron Boyce, Richard Gleeson, Harry Gurney
The inside word with coach Michael Klinger
Andrew McDonald did a really good job in getting most things set up. It's been more in the last week or two about getting list management right and making sure we have replacement players ready, and trying to predict who is going to get picked for Australia in the India one-day series in January. That's been the major work so far.
Injury update and player availability
We also know we're going to lose two of the Under-19 guys (Jake Fraser-McGurk and Mackenzie Harvey) to the World Cup. It's just about replacing them and seeing what sort of players we need replacing (later in the tournament).
It's a real shame that Jon Holland got injured when he did (Holland recently underwent surgery for a chronic finger issue) because he's probably had a lack of opportunities in T20 cricket over the last couple of years. I think he's very skilful and was hoping he was going to play a big role for us.
It's obviously unfortunate to lose Usman Shinwari and Faheem Ashraf on the eve of the season but sometimes that's the nature of T20 cricket in a busy international schedule.
Richard Gleeson bowls with genuine pace and is capable of hitting the areas that make it difficult for batsmen to score on a regular basis. His skills in the power play and at the death have resulted in him being one of the best T20 bowlers in the UK T20 Blast in recent years.
We're delighted to have Harry Gurney for the whole tournament given his performances in the Big Bash last season and Mohammad Nabi will also be a welcome addition when he arrives in January.
Jake Fraser-McGurk is certainly a chance to play at the start of the tournament. There's probably a couple of spots up for grabs in the middle order but I think someone new has a bit of appeal, a bit like Josh Philippe last year. No one really knew him and no one really knew how to bowl to him. He got away really quickly at the start of the tournament and he had a great tournament. That's the advantage of having someone young and fearless and opposition teams don't really have much data on them.
Player to watch
Shaun Marsh is a huge pick-up. I had coffee with (Scorchers coach) Adam Voges a few days ago and said to him, 'I really felt sorry for you that he left the Scorchers – up until about two weeks ago when I became coach of the Renegades.' He's going to be a huge asset for us. Whether he gets picked in the Aussie ODI team to go to India or not – the minimum games he'll play is nine and a maximum is all of them. I don't think he's played in that many games in a Big Bash in a long time. For him to be available for that much of the tournament is going to be huge, batting somewhere in the top three. He's really determined to do well in a new team. He knows a lot of the guys already, he's played with a lot of them for Australia and he obviously knows me really well from the Scorchers. I think he's going to feel really comfortable straightaway.
Team's biggest strength
What I saw from last year, and since having looked at a lot of footage and data, was just how well the Renegades bowled as a group, and how they had specific roles and bowled in specific phases. You had Kane Richardson at the front and back end and then when Harry Gurney came, you had (Richardson) bowling more at the front because you could have Gurney finishing off. We had our spinners and medium pace bowlers through the middle doing a brilliant job. It wasn't rocket science, it was just a simple method that worked really well for us. I can't see us changing that too much but at the same time you've got to be flexible to what the other teams do against us. We've got the ability to change things up if we need to.
For some reason, I'm thinking the Brisbane Heat this year. They've got some really good spin options when they play at the Gabba. They have Mitch Swepson and two Afghanistan spinners, Mujeeb and Zahir Khan. I think Chris Lynn is going to be really hungry to score runs, he hasn't played a lot of cricket in the domestic scene this year but went really well in the T10 League just now. When you put that mix together, they're a very dangerous team.