The Big Bash League is the second most watched domestic T20 tournament in the world after the Indian Premier League. The success of the last four editions of the competition has increased interest among cricket lovers and it has become one of the highlights of the Australian summer of cricket, after the Boxing Day Test match.
This year the tournament will also feature a few veterans of the game. These players no longer play for their respective nations, but they are sure to bring experience, glamour and above all, entertainment to the BBL this year.
1. Kumar Sangakkara - Sri Lanka (Hobart Hurricanes)
If attractiveness was part of the criteria for preparing a list of top batsmen, Kumar Sangakkara would definitely feature in one of the top spots. He only recently retired from international cricket after the home series against India in August 2015.
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His T20 form has been terrific and his performance in the recently concluded Bangladesh Premier League is testimony to that. He finished with the highest run tally of the tournament with 339 in nine matches with an average of 38.77. He will certainly be influential in the Hobart Hurricanes' fortunes this summer.
2. Mahela Jayewardene - Sri Lanka (Adelaide Strikers)
Mahela Jayewardene may have said goodbye to international cricket after the World Cup earlier this year, but that has not stopped him from playing professional cricket in other parts of the world.
He appeared for a short stint at the Georgie Pie Super Smash 2015-16 for the Central Districts, playing four matches for the team and averaging 62.25, with his highest tally of 97 coming against the Northern Districts at a strike rate of 143.10. Adelaide Strikers may have lost the influential Kieron Pollard to injury, but they have replaced him with the ever elegant Jayewardene.
3. Mike Hussey - Australia (Sydney Thunder)
Mike Hussey may have passed his prime, but he will still bring a lot to the Sydney Thunder this BBL, despite his lack of games during 2015. He did play for the Chennai Super Kings in the IPL earlier this year and played one match for Canterbury against the Central Districts in the Georgie Pie Super Smash 2015-16, scoring 46. His T20 average this year is only 24.85, but if Hussey gets in form, we are in for a delight.
4. Jacques Kallis - South Africa (Sydney Thunder)
Jacques Kallis is probably the best all-rounder the game has ever seen in all formats. This year in T20 he may not have been up to the standards he aspired to, only averaging 29.26 with a strike rate of 116.44. He did show some form in the recently concluded Cricket All-Stars with a couple of 40’s.
However, he has impressed with the ball recording an economy of around six throughout the year. That’s what you get with a player like Kallis, the runs may have dried up, but he is more than capable of performing with the ball - perfect for the BBL.
5. Brad Hogg - Australia (Perth Scorchers)
It has been a while since we have seen Brad Hogg on the field as he played his last T20 for the Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL earlier this year. However, in the match he was fantastic, picking up 16 wickets in 12 matches with an economy of 6.04 runs-per-over.
He is cunning, smart and mixes his pace very well. His variations are hard to pick for the batsman and if he begins to get into his stride it will no doubt be a joy to watch.
6. Kevin Pietersen - England (Melbourne Stars)
Kevin Pietersen is probably the biggest import the Big Bash League has had in the past two years and so far this year he has been brilliant. His international career may have been ruined by external factors, but he is still performing to a high standard in the BBL.
His form in the T20s has been phenomenal this year, averaging 48.52 with two hundreds and six fifties this calendar year. He looked in superb touch in the recently concluded Ram Slam T20 Challenge in South Africa and finished second in the overall runs tally behind Quinton de Kock even though he played only seven matches. Melbourne Stars will be hoping that the master of the switch hit can bring in the same form to the Big Bash League.
Who do you think will light up the Big Bash League? Give YOUR opinion in the comment box below!