The Sydney Thunder are understood to be close to securing the services of a new head coach for BBL|08 after the club parted ways with Paddy Upton last month.
There's already been plenty of movement in the Big Bash off-season, with the Melbourne Stars poaching Sydney Sixers batsman Nic Maddinson and Marcus Stoinis courted heavily.
The Thunder, who finished sixth in BBL|07 with four wins from their six matches, had been helmed by Upton for the past four season, including their maiden title in BBL|05.
Thunder General Manager Lee Germon said at the time: "Following a comprehensive review of our playing roster, facilities and support staff, the club will now work with Cricket NSW to deliver a strategy to maximise our player pathways specifically for T20 cricket."
Here's some contenders who could be in the running to helm the Thunder in BBL|08 and beyond:
The legendary South African allrounder was a fan favourite at the Sydney Thunder in the two seasons he played for the club. Across 16 matches in BBL|04 and BBL|05 Kallis hit 372 runs at 28.61, with three fifties and a best of 97 not out. He also took 10 wickets, and his career stats put him up there in conversations with the greatest ever to play the game. Kallis started his coaching career as a batting consultant with the Kolkata Knight Riders in 2015, having played 70 games with the franchise, including as winners in 2012 and 2014. When the head coach vacancy arose later that year, Kallis moved up as head coach, guiding the KKR club into the playoffs for the past two seasons.
England's white-ball players will be available for the majority of the next Big Bash season, and that means the coaching staff will also have some spare time. And England are increasingly looking like they may split their national coaching roles following recent comments from head coach Trevor Bayliss. With his assistant Paul Farbrace the front-runner to focus on the white-ball formats, he could do much worse than getting some valuable experience in the T20 format at club level. Bayliss served as the Sydney Sixers head coach for the first four seasons of the BBL and would be keen for his coaching accomplice to tread a similar path in the BBL. The downside for the Thunder is that it would likely be a one-year deal, and – if the Big Bash season is confirmed to extend into February – require the co-operation of the ECB with a conflicting series in the Caribbean.
Mr Cricket is also Mr Thunder. The original marquee player for the Thunder in the early years, he transitioned from playing in the club's first Director of Cricket in 2016. The former Australia batsman, who famously guided Australia to an unlikely win against Pakistan in the 2010 World T20 semi-final in the Caribbean, has also dipped his toes in the coaching waters, playing an assistant role with the national side in the 2016 World T20 tournament in India. He also held a consultancy role with South Africa in their failed bid for the 2015 50-over World Cup. And while he has previously said he's not ready for a full-time coaching role, the time may now be right for Mr Cricket to step forward for the Thunder.
This one is, admittedly, a long shot for the Thunder, but former Australia captain Ricky Ponting has made little secret of his desire to be more involved in T20 coaching. The current head coach of the Delhi Daredevils, Ponting held an assistant role under Darren Lehmann with the Australia T20 team that won this summer's trans-Tasman tri-series, and revelled in being 'back with the boys'. There is plenty of chatter that Ponting will take the role in a more permanent capacity for the World T20 to be held in Australia in 2020. Ponting already sees plenty of Big Bash cricket in his role as a Network Ten commentator. He may prefer to return to those duties, but at the time of writing, the broadcast rights for BBL|08 and beyond are undecided.
A faithful servant of NSW Cricket, Simon Katich would be a popular choice with the locals. After exiting the national scene in typically forthright Katich fashion in early 2014, he spent some time in roles with the GWS Giants Australian Rules football club. He's not strayed far from cricket though, a regular commentator on radio – currently heard on the cricket.com.au match centre and CA Live app with SEN in South Africa – he remains closely connected to the game. Most pertinently, he is an assistant coach with Kolkata Knight Riders, returning to this year's IPL for a third season working with Kallis. A keen strategist, Katich has said he remains open to further roles, if the right one appears.
The Kiwi Connection
The Sydney Thunder general manager is former New Zealand international Lee Germon, who was the CEO of Canterbury Cricket before he crossed the Tasman to join BBL administration. It's not unreasonable to think Germon might tap his Kiwi connections for a high-profile coach. Other clubs have locked up compatriots Stephen Fleming (Melbourne Stars) and Daniel Vettori (Brisbane Heat), but there is a deep pool of talent. Shane Bond, who has worked closely with Vettori at the Heat, and is under contract there until BBL|09, has been growing in influence in coaching circles. He worked with England during last summer's Magellan Ashes as a Kookaburra specialist, and has held bowling coach roles with various clubs, including the Mumbai Indians, and notably with New Zealand at the 2015 World Cup as they charged into the final. In September he told NZ media "I've got my sights on a head coaching role, but it’s how it all lines up with everything else in your life." He could well be tempted by a BBL head coach role, but the Thunder would need to negotiate terms with the Heat first. The former international coach John Wright, who had a stint coaching the Mumbai Indians for two years in the IPL, could be another contender, as could John Bracewell, who most recently was the head coach of Ireland.