In the previous edition of the Big Bash League (BBL 09), the Adelaide Strikers finished third in the points table and looked primed to stake a spot in the summit clash, after picking up 8 wins from 14 league stage matches.
With that third spot finish, the Adelaide Strikers made the knockouts for only the 4th time in their storied history, and the Travis Head-led side had a clear path ahead - three more wins and they could lay their hands on the silverware.
However, all their harbored hopes were squashed by the Sydney Thunder, who restricted the Adelaide Strikers to within eight runs of their 152-run target, despite the latter needing just 37 in their last five overs with six wickets in hand.
A little over 10 months since that gut-wrenching loss, the Adelaide Strikers gear up for another challenge, with BBL 10 beginning on December 10.
And despite that loss back in February still a painful memory for Adelaide Strikers head coach Jason Gillespie, the former Australian pacer is optimistic of what is to come this season.
"We certainly would like to progress further than the knockout, I thought we played some great cricket last year, not to get over the line against the Sydney Thunder was really disappointing. But that’s gone now, our focus is on this season. We can experiment which these new rule changes, and learn as much as we can and apply those learnings to the season when it gets underway," Gillespie told Sportskeeda in an exclusive interview.
The 'learnings' that Gillespie refers to divided social media recently, with plenty of big names such as Shane Watson, Usman Khawaja among others handing out their two cents on the three new rules that will be implemented in Big Bash League 2020-21.
The three new introductions, namely the X-factor, Power Surge and Bash Boost have brought with them a whole lot of confusion, and might prove to produce a couple of sleepless nights for the coaches and players.
Also read - BBL 2020-21: 3 rule changes that we will see this season
But for Gillespie, it's an opportunity to explore new avenues, and he believes that this will open up opportunities for his players and the Adelaide Strikers management to tackle new challenges.
"No sleepless nights, we are going to get together, sit in the meetings with the players and bounce around some ideas to learn as much as we can from training sessions and practice matches. We’ll come up with a plan, a bit of a strategy to play our game with these new rules. I think it’s exciting, it’s something different, we’ll give it a go and we’ll review after each game."
While Gillespie seemed open to the idea of these three rules having a significant say in the outcome of a game, the Adelaide Strikers head coach did voice out his concerns as well.
"I don’t have a problem with any of the rules, we’re in an innovative league. The one rule I am not sure how it will be done by teams is whoever has the most runs at the halfway point gets a point, that’s an interesting one, need to see what the tactics are with that. Hopefully teams don’t see that they are going to struggle to win a game so they put all their energy on getting one point in a game they lose, that would affect the spectacle of the game."
Adelaide Strikers have re-signed Rashid Khan, Philip Salt for Big Bash League 2020-21
Ahead of the commencement of Big Bash League 2020-21, the Adelaide Strikers have managed to retain a massive chunk of their squad from last season, while making a few new signings.
The Adelaide Strikers have traded in Daniel Worrall for Billy Stanlake with the Melbourne Stars, while they've also lured in the services of Matt Renshaw from the Brisbane Heat on a three-year deal.
Apart from ace spinner Rashid Khan and opening batsman Philip Salt penning new contracts, the Adelaide Strikers have beefed up their spin contingent with the addition of the Natwest T20 Blast's highest wicket-taker, off-spinner Danny Briggs to their roster.
Click here to see Big bash fixtures for 2020-21.
Gillespie shed light on the composition of the Adelaide Strikers' squad for Big Bash League 2020-21 and also heaped some extra praise on Rashid, who he feels is the 'best spinner on the planet in T20 cricket'.
"We recruited Renshaw from the Heat, Phil Salt is coming back for his second stint, I feel we’ve got a lot of strength in our batting. Danny Briggs is very adaptable, he can bowl in any phase of the game, and we're pretty excited to have him in our team. Rashid Khan is the best spinner on the planet in T20 cricket, it’s an absolute delight to have Rash every year. He loves coming to Adelaide, we love having him. He’s a wonderful human being, and he’s fitted in so well in the Strikers’ dressing room."
Yet, despite the star presence among the Adelaide Strikers' ranks, they will miss the services of Alex Carey and skipper Travis Head, the latter for a major chunk of the season.
Also read - BBL 2020-21: Alex Carey locks in new deal to stay with Adelaide Strikers
While Carey might join the Adelaide Strikers for their second match against the Hobart Hurricanes on December 15, Head will only link up with the Adelaide Strikers post Australia's four-match Test series against India, which culminates on January 19.
And while Gillespie acknowledges Adelaide Strikers' captain Head's absence during the league stages, he reckons that the squad depth will make up for his unavailability.
"Unfortunately we won’t have Travis until the completion of the Test series so we won’t see him till later on in the summer, but that gives opportunities for someone else to come in and play as well as they can. Always great to give opportunities to players, we’re realistic, we know that it’s great for our franchise to have a number of players to have been selected for Australia. This is why you have squads, we have a squad of 19, we’ll just adjust and adapt."
Jason Gillespie backs David Warner's decision to opt out of BBL for the foreseeable future
Towards the last week of November, David Warner made his intentions about wanting to spend more time with his family clear - even if it came at the cost of needing to relinquish a fat contract with a BBL team.
Highlighting the need to make time for family within the off-time him or his teammates get amidst the taxing international schedule, Warner made it clear that he doesn't intend to take part in the BBL, at least until he hangs up his boots at the national level.
Gillespie backed Warner's decision to opt out of participating in the BBL, and added that the Australian players can decide to skip taking part in the T20 League if they choose to do so in order to remain fresh for national duty.
"David’s stance I think is quite valid in the fact that he’s playing all forms of cricket for Australia. If he gets a few days off, he’s best served to spend some time with family and prepare for his next challenge with Australia. There are long enough and tough enough summers as an Australian player without the Bash Bash, I suppose."
"They’re played around the same time as the heart of the international summer, so it is really difficult for the international players to commit to the Big Bash franchises because one, they don’t know how many games they will play and even if they end up being available for one or two, a lot of the time, the player will be better served to have a bit of a rest and keep them fresh for Australia duty."
Warner last turned out for the Sydney Sixers in the 2013-14 edition of the Big Bash League, a match in which he scored a 31-ball 50 against the Sydney Thunder.
And while Warner's absence in Big Bash League 2020-21 will be felt, this season promises to produce fireworks, with the new rule changes set to bring in myriad strategies and freshness into the league.
And with Adelaide Strikers' head coach Gillespie welcoming the developments with open arms and formulating his plans with every passing day, we might just see the BBL 07 champions put up quite a show this season.
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