BBL previews: Adelaide Strikers and Brisbane Heat

Rashid Khan celebrates another wicket in the Big Bash Getty Images

Adelaide Strikers

Captain: Travis Head

Coach: Jason Gillespie

Overseas players: Rashid Khan (Afghanistan), Phil Salt (England)

Full squad: Wes Agar, Alex Carey, Travis Head, Rashid Khan, Jake Lehmann, Michael Neser, Harry Nielsen, Liam O'Connor, Phil Salt, Matt Short, Peter Siddle, Billy Stanlake, Cameron Valente, Jake Weatherald, Jonathan Wells, Cameron White, Nick Winter, Harry Conway

Last season: 7th

The Strikers went from champions to second from bottom in a campaign that never really got off the ground with a four-game losing streak mid-season ending their hopes of a successful title defence.

What's changed for the season?

Gillespie has used his Sussex knowledge to bring in top-order batsman Salt, who briefly featured in the England T20I squad earlier this year. Ben Laughlin, a long-time part of the Strikers attack, has moved to the Brisbane Heat for family reasons, with Harry Conway coming into the squad. Cameron White, in what is likely to be the final fling of his career, brings winning experience from the Melbourne Renegades.

Australia impact

Head and possibly Michael Neser will be featuring in the Test side until early January, and Alex Carey will be lost to the ODI tour India mid-tournament. There is a chance that if Neser remains in the Test squad he could be released for BBL duty if not needed against New Zealand.

Player to watch

Wes Agar has been bowling very well in Marsh Cup and Sheffield Shield cricket this season and, after just two matches for the Strikers last summer, could get greater opportunity in this campaign particularly with the departure of Laughlin and if Neser is on Australia duty.

Key stat (Gaurav Sundararaman)

Rashid Khan's form might have dipped in other T20s and ODIs in 2019 but his performance in the Big Bash is extraordinary. In the last two seasons, Rashid has taken 37 wickets at an economy rate of 5.93 and 45% of his deliveries are dots.

Brisbane Heat

Captain: Chris Lynn

Coach: Darren Lehmann

Overseas players: Tom Banton (England - first eight games), AB de Villiers (South Africa - expected from January 9), Zahir Khan (Afghanistan), Mujeeb Ur Rahman (Afghanistan)

Full squad: Tom Banton, Max Bryant, Joe Burns, Ben Cutting, AB De Villiers (overseas replacement), Cameron Gannon, Sam Heazlett, Zahir Khan, Matthew Kuhnemann, Marnus Labuschagne, Ben Laughlin, Josh Lalor, Chris Lynn, James Pattinson, James Peirson, Jack Prestwidge, Matt Renshaw, Mark Steketee, Mitch Swepson, Mujeeb Ur Rahman (overseas replacement)

Last season: 5th

They had a lot of hype about them but failed to fire, missing the finals by a game. Their much-vaunted top order made a lot of bright starts but fizzled out quickly and the order was chopped and changed throughout the tournament. They saved their best work for the last two games with two magnificent chases but it was too little too late.

What's changed for the season?

A new coach and a few new bash brothers. Darren Lehmann, who led the Heat to the title in BBL02, takes charge again after Daniel Vettori stepped down. The signing of AB de Villiers and Tom Banton made a huge stir. They will play half the tournament each with de Villiers available for the finals. The Heat have the best batting line-up in the BBL but historically the best bowling teams have won the tournament and they will need to bowl well. Laughlin's return to Queensland from the Strikers having won a title in Adelaide is a nice addition.

Australia impact

James Pattinson's availability early in the tournament is subject to his Test duties but he could play more games than the Heat had planned for, given the form of Australia's incumbent Test quicks. Joe Burns and Marnus Labuschagne will be unavailable in the early part of the tournament but both may even struggle to get a game for the Heat given the batting depth. It is unlikely many Heat players will head to India with the ODI team, although Labuschagne was named joint player of the Marsh Cup and Australia may want to look at him in a second format if they experiment with the side.

Player to watch

Max Bryant is the obvious choice. He has so much potential but capitalising on starts and finding consistency as a young player is his biggest challenge. He has had a lean season in 50-over cricket for Queensland but a couple of early scores in the BBL and he could go have a huge tournament.

Key stat (Gaurav Sundararaman)

Tom Banton comes into this competition with very high expectations. Out of the 41 players to have faced 200 balls in powerplays in 2019, Banton has the best strike rate of 160. He scores big and at a brisk pace. The Gabba pitch could be perfect for Banton to showcase his skills.