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Five players to watch in the Big Bash

The 2022/23 Big Bash League season gets underway with Sydney Thunder’s clash against Melbourne Stars on Wednesday, with eight franchises vying for the five play-off spots that will decide this term’s winner.

As anticipation hots up, we take a look at five players - some well-known, some under the radar - to keep an eye on in Australia.

Faf du Plessis (Perth Scorchers)

Brought in as a replacement signing for England’s Laurie Evans, Faf du Plessis’ star quality could be key to 11/2 shots Perth Scorchers’ title defence hopes.

Dominant last season, the Australians were beaten just three times as they raced to the summit of the table, winning their fourth Big Bash League with a 79-run win over Sydney Sixers in the final.

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Evans’ 76 not out against the Sixers propelled his team to glory and his absence due to a failed anti-doping test could be sorely felt by his team, but du Plessis, the former South African captain, is known for being one of the short game’s most powerful openers.

He has four T20 centuries - one in the international game against West Indies in 2015, posting a career-best 119 - and 50 half-centuries, with a career strike rate of 130.85.

South African Cricketer of the Year in 2019, he captained Royal Challengers Bangalore to third place in the Indian Premier League this year.

His ability with the bat is not the only sight to behold in the coming tournament; du Plessis’ fielding capabilities make him a threat from the off.

David Warner (Sydney Thunder)

Back in the Big Bash League for the first time in nine years, David Warner is a key part of Sydney Thunder’s hopes of bettering their third-placed efforts last term.

A name that attracts attention on and off the field, Warner’s efforts across all formats have earned him a reputation as one of the finest batsmen of his era - and his record in 20-over games proves short-form cricket is no exception.

With 24 half-centuries from 99 T20I games, the Sydney-born opener has an average of 32.88 after posting almost 2,900 runs.

A key member of his country’s T20 World Cup-winning squad in 2021 - winning the Player of the Tournament award - Warner has starred for the Delhi Capitals, Delhi Daredevils, Sunrisers Hyderabad and St Lucia Stars among others, even turning out for the Sylhet Sixers in the Bangladesh Premier League in 2019.

He represented the Thunder between 2011 and 2014, captaining the side in the first season of the re-worked Big Bash League and scoring 102 not out from just 51 deliveries in his opening match.

In the event’s forerunner, he set a record when making 50 runs from just 18 balls.

But fans will have to wait to see his trademark aggressive left-handed batting - his involvement in Australia’s Boxing Day test means he is only available for the final five matches of the regular season.

Colin de Grandhomme (Adelaide Strikers)

The inaugural overseas player draft saw Jason Gillespie’s Strikers opt for the vastly experienced all-rounder de Grandhomme, meaning the Kiwi will join up with Englishman Adam Hose and Rashid Khan of Afghanistan to try and better the Adelaide outfit’s fourth-placed finish last season.

Now 36, De Grandhomme is retired from the international game and enters the action in the Big Bash League on the hunt for both runs and wickets, in a late boost to his career stats.

A veteran of 41 internationals, the T20 specialist - priced at 5/1 to be the Strikers’ top batter - featured for New Zealand in England this summer and has taken his skills to the Sri Lanka Premier League, the Caribbean and the IPL, as well as the Hundred.

Akeal Hosein (Melbourne Renegades)

Akeal Hosein’s left-arm spin will be a welcome component of the Melbourne Renegades’ arsenal in the coming season. The 29-year-old combines skill with experience, notching up 89 T20 matches in his career and boasting a 6.49 economy rate, with 70 wickets under his belt.

Not only is Hosein adept with the ball in hand, but he also possesses a versatility that will come in handy. The Trinidadian has managed 366 runs at an average of 16.63 and can be backed at 8/1 to be top bowler for the Melburnians.

His West Indies T20I career began in July 2021 against South Africa after he impressed in Caribbean Premier League seasons with Barbados Tridents and Trinbago Knight Riders.

Fazalhaq Farooqi (Sydney Thunder)

An Asia Cup 2022 standout performance catapulted Afghan Fazalhaq Farooqi into the limelight earlier in the year and the left-armer should be expected to turn heads in the Big Bash League.

His pace deliveries could prove a weapon for the Sydney Thunder, particularly with the new ball in play.

At 22 years old, Farooqi has racked up 35 wickets in 33 T20 matches, recording an economy rate of 6.53.

He made his international bow in the 20-over game in March 2021 against Zimbabwe, representing his country at ODI-level since January 2022. A price of 6/1 is available for those picking him as the Thunder’s top bowler.

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