Big Bash champions to defend crown without their most prominent stars
Steve Smith and co-assisted the Sydney Sixers storm to the Big Bash title in February but the reigning Big Bash champions are getting ready to defend their crown without their most prominent stars this summer.
The potential for Australia’s best players to once again appear as a significant logistical problem in this year’s BBL shapes provided Tests (against India), and ODIs (against India and New Zealand) are expected to coincide with the 10th Big Bash season.
State boundary constraints, procedures for entering and leaving bio-secure ‘bubbles’ and the possibility of further timetable changes will prove to be significant challenges for all BBL clubs hoping to showcase their Australian teams.
Along with Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon, Smith returned last season for the business end of the BBL, and all played crucial roles in a successful final campaign that resulted in a trophy-clinching triumph at the SCG in February.
Coach Greg Shipperd has admitted that they are likely to go back-to-back without them in their bid.
It means the Sixers should get their depth measured in BBL10, though Shipperd has few reservations about that.
The club could still add to their play stocks. Still, the core of Tom Curran, Josh Philippe, Ben Dwarshuis and Moises Henriques, who formed the backbone of the Sixers’ regular-season success last season before Smith, Hazlewood and Lyon fell in at the business end, remains stable.
Less heralded guys like Ben Manenti, Lloyd Pope and Justin Avendano who haven’t featured against the Melbourne Stars in the final have chipped in with significant season results.
As main men Sean Abbott, Stephen O’Keefe and Jackson Bird all missed games at different stages, their influence proved crucial.
No club in BBL09 fielded more players than the Sixers who played in at least four games.