Australia's premier T20 competition, the Big Bash League, is back with its eighth edition. The tournament which was earlier played under the name 'Big Bash' with six teams, underwent a radical change in 2011 which led to the birth of the BBL.
There are eight teams which fight for the elusive title every year. This time around, the fixtures in the BBL are going to be two-fold i.e. each team will play one home and one away fixture against every other team.
The tournament kicks off on 19 December, with the final scheduled for 17 February 2019.
Since Australia do not play any T20 cricket while the BBL is on, a majority of T20 specialists will be available, which further spices up the competition. Needless to say, it promises to be a cracker of a competition.
In this article, we will take a look at the three strongest BBL teams on paper in 2018-19.
#3 Sydney Thunder
The men in lime green have had a poor track record in the BBL barring their one title win in 2015-16. However, the Sydney Thunder have the potential to turn the tables around in this edition of the BBL, as they have a very strong side on paper.
The two international signings of the Thunder are England superstars Joe Root and Jos Buttler. Chris Jordan and Anton Devcich will take over once Buttler and Root depart for the West Indies tour.
The domestic roster hasn't changed much, and under the captaincy of Shane Watson, this team looks all set to give a tough time to all the big sides in the competition.
Full squad: Shane Watson (c), Jos Buttler, Usman Khawaja, Kurtis Patterson, Joe Root, Callum Ferguson, Ryan Gibson, Jay Lenton, Jason Sangha, Arjun Nair, Fawad Ahmed, Chris Green, Pat Cummins, Daniel Sams, Nathan McAndrew, Gurinder Sandhu, Chris Jordan, Anton Devcich, Sam Rainbird, Liam Hatcher.
#2 Melbourne Stars
The men in green are once again ready to set the 'G' on fire, with a new bunch of stars. After losing the services of their overseas veterans Kevin Pietersen and Luke Wright, the Stars have recruited Sandeep Lamichhane and Dwayne Bravo as their overseas players.
Liam Plunkett has been named as the replacement player. Glenn Maxwell will lead the side which promises to be full of firepower.
The Stars lost a key player in the form of John Hastings, who was also their captain, last season - to the Sydney Sixers. But they made up for that by roping in Nic Maddinson.
The squad shows a good blend of youth and experience in both batting and bowling, and the Stars would be the favorites to reach the semi-finals.
Full squad: Glenn Maxwell(c), Ben Dunk, Nic Maddinson, Peter Handscomb, Travis Dean, Seb Gotch, Dwayne Bravo, Marcus Stoinis, Evan Gulbis, Liam Plunkett, Adam Zampa, Michael Beer, Jackson Bird, Scott Boland, Jackson Coleman, Sandeep Lamichhane, Daniel Worrall, Liam Bowe, Jonathan Merlo.
#1 Hobart Hurricanes
The 'Cane-Train' is ready to roll in the eighth edition of the Big Bash League. The runners-up of 2017-18 have built a very strong team with extensive international experience.
Australian wicket-keeper Matthew Wade has been named the skipper after his splendid form in domestic cricket.
The Hobart Hurricanes have retained their two international signings from last season viz. Tymal Mills and Jofra Archer. Archer was their strike bowler who made a huge impact in taking the team forward last season.
The Hurricanes lost Cameron Boyce and Dan Christian to the Renegades but in turn, acquired James Faulkner and Johan Botha.
The vast experience in the squad makes them look like an international side. The Hurricanes are likely to be one of the toughest sides to take on in BBL this year, and anything less than a spot in the final would be construed as a failure by the men in purple.
Full squad: Matthew Wade (c), D’Arcy Short, Alex Doolan, Tim Paine, Ben McDermott, George Bailey, Johan Botha, Jake Doran, James Faulkner, Simon Milenko, Jofra Archer, Clive Rose, Tymal Mills, Caleb Jewell, Riley Meredith, David Moody, Tom Rogers, Aaron Summers