Hogg returns for Scorchers, Blizzard joins Hurricanes
Aiden Blizzard has become the first player to change teams during the Big Bash League contract window, signing with the Hobart Hurricanes after playing with the Adelaide Strikers last summer. Also on the second day of BBL contracting, the veteran spinner Brad Hogg re-signed with the Perth Scorchers, the Melbourne Renegades retained Aaron Finch, Alister McDermott was kept on by the Brisbane Heat and Travis Birt confirmed he would stay with the Hurricanes.
A notable aspect of the early agreements this year has been the willingness of teams to offer long-term contracts, with Finch and Birt each signing three-year deals and McDermott securing a two-year contract. Daniel Vettori, the first international player to sign up for this summer's BBL, had also agreed to a three-year contract with the Heat on Monday.
All players became free agents again after the first BBL and the race is now on to secure the big names, with teams given until Friday next week to lock in at least 14 members of their roster. There have been no major surprises in the opening stages, with Blizzard's move to the Hurricanes expected after he was delisted by South Australia and signed a two-year deal with Tasmania.
He will be joined by Birt, who was the leading run scorer in the BBL last season, when he made 345 runs at 43.12 and a strike-rate of 168.29. Despite remaining on Western Australia's list for the longer formats of the game this summer Birt, who played for Tasmania before moving to Perth, said he was keen to return to Hobart for the Twenty20 tournament.
"I really enjoyed my time back in Hobart as a Hurricane and I'm looking forward to the season starting all over again and escaping Perth's sweltering summer heat for a while," Birt said. "The excitement and the buzz around the Hobart Hurricanes during the inaugural Big Bash League season was great to be a part of."
Another leading performer during last year's tournament was Hogg, whose bowling was so impressive that he earned a call-up to Australia's T20 side and is expected to be part of the squad for the ICC World T20 in Sri Lanka in September. Hogg, 41, will return for the Scorchers this season, after collecting 13 wickets at 14.69 and managing a remarkable economy rate of 5.61 during the first BBL.
"Hoggy was a cult figure in the Big Bash League last summer and to have him wearing the orange colours again is something we were very keen to make happen," Lachlan Stevens, the Scorchers coach, said. "It is exciting to have him back. Some viewed his signing last summer as a risk but we knew that a guy who could spin the ball both ways could be really effective. We were so happy that he performed extremely well and became the centrepiece of the Scorchers."
The Renegades, who finished second-last with only two wins last season, were keen to lock in their vice-captain, Finch, their leading run scorer with 259 at an average of 37.00. "I had some success personally last year, which was nice, but now I'm really looking forward to helping the team climb up the ladder a little bit and challenge for the title," Finch said.
Another side searching for improvement will be the Heat, who finished fifth last season, and narrowly missed out on a place in the semi-finals. The Heat coach Darren Lehmann said securing McDermott for two years was important, after he was named the team's most valuable player last summer.
"Ali really stepped up and took on that death bowler's role to great effect," Lehmann said. "He's an absolute pleasure to coach and is the sort of young bloke that you want to have in your teams because he just delivers 100% whenever and whatever you ask of him."