Preview: Stars chase elusive title
The powerhouse Stars will aim to finally break their BBL hoodoo after failing in the finals year after year
14 December 2017, 05:00 PM AEST
Squad: Michael Beer, Scott Boland, Jackson Coleman, Ben Dunk, James Faulkner, Seb Gotch, Evan Gulbis, Peter Handscomb, Sam Harper, John Hastings (c), Ben Hilfenhaus, Glenn Maxwell, Kevin Pietersen (ENG), Rob Quiney, Marcus Stoinis, Dan Worrall, Luke Wright (ENG), Adam Zampa.
Ins: Jackson Coleman (upgrade), Ben Dunk (Strikers)
Outs: David Hussey (retired), Tom Triffitt
The inside word from new captain John Hastings: "I just think the culture that we’ve been able to build in our short existence – it’s not like the other franchise groups where you actually go only for six weeks and you move apart ,we’re almost like a real club and a family atmosphere so that’s something that I'll be really big on and driving. We’ve got all the talent in the world but I think if we can get the cohesion and the squad together early like we have in the last few years I think you'll see a good season from us again."
The talking points: Can the Melbourne Stars finally break their BBL hoodoo? The powerhouse outfit have failed year after year when it comes to the knock-out stages, with defeat in the BBL|05 final at the MCG particularly galling.
"I think we're extremely overdue," said an understated Glenn Maxwell. "We’ve been pretty close over the last few years and the heart break of losing against the Thunder here in the final was hard to take. Recruiting Ben Dunk is a great start to the season for us, and he going to be a big key. Hopefully he can have a great season for us."
The Stars' key import, Kevin Pietersen, has a philosophical take on it: "At the inception of the Big Bash, if you had said every year you'd make finals would you take it? Or come last three or four times and win one? I don’t know. I reckon I’m taking finals every single year."
BBL|06 result: Another season, another semi-final exit for the Stars. This time, the writing was on the wall as the Stars lost their final two matches of the season to lose home ground advantage, and were forced to travel to Perth for a semi-final showdown with Perth. Mitchell Johnson was in the mood – both Stars openers gone in the first over as he finished with 3-3 from four unplayable overs.
The one to watch: Where do you start? The enigmatic stars Kevin Pietersen or Glenn Maxwell? Highly rated allrounder Marcus Stoinis? There's plenty of must-see star power in this line-up. But perhaps the most intriguing development will be how new captain John Hastings goes in his first season in charge. The Duke gave up the longer formats at the start of this summer after succumbing to injury issues, and is throwing everything into his T20 career and will be as desperate as anyone to finally taste success with the Stars. Fast bowlers aren't usually captains, for no real particular reason, so it will be fascinating to see how Hastings handles the ever-evolving tactics in the T20 format.
The pressure on: Last season's leading run-scorer will not have come cheap for the Melbourne Stars and the expectations will be sky high for new recruit Ben Dunk. Lured out of Adelaide to strengthen the batting at the MCG, Dunk has done his best work opening the batting, yet that has hardly been a problem area for the Stars with Rob Quiney partnering with Luke Wright, the BBL's most consistent and longest-serving import player.
The fixtures: Dec 20 v Heat (away), Dec 26 v Scorchers (away), Jan 2 v Heat (home), Jan 6 v Renegades (home), Jan 9 v Strikers (away), Jan 12 v Renegades (away), Jan 16 v Sixers (home), Jan 20 v Thunder (home), Jan 23 v Sixers (away), Jan 27 v Hurricanes (home).