Absence of seniors a setback for Brisbane Heat
Like Perth Scorchers, Australia's BBL champions Brisbane Heat will enter this tournament without their leading run scorer from last summer. Luke Pomersbach is unavailable for the Champions League for family reasons and the squad will also have to do without Shane Watson, who will be playing for Rajasthan Royals; Mitchell Johnson, who is with Mumbai Indians; Thisara Perera, who is with Sunrisers Hyderabad; and the injured Ryan Harris. It leaves them short on big names, although any attack boasting Kemar Roach must still be respected, while Alister McDermott, Ben Cutting and Nathan Hauritz will back him up with a combination of youthful talent and experience. The captain, James Hopes, has plenty of international experience on which to draw as well.
Watson's presence would really have been a bonus, for he played only one game in the BBL last summer, but the absence of Pomersbach (397 runs at 44.11) is a major blow to the batting. Joe Burns is a serious young talent but one more suited to the longer formats, while Chris Lynn perhaps has the power to have an impact in this tournament and could use it as a chance to kickstart his season. Much will be asked of Daniel Christian, the allrounder, who has played Twenty20 cricket for three IPL franchises, two counties and three Australian domestic teams, as well as 11 times for his country.
That Daniel Christian has the ability to be a force in this tournament, with both bat and ball, is not in question. But after a difficult 2012-13 summer, which led him to move from South Australia to Victoria during the off season, it will be interesting to see whether he enters this series with a freer approach and a clearer mind. A clean hitter and wicket-taking seamer - though one who can be expensive in T20 cricket - Christian was considered good enough to be part of Australia's World T20 campaign last year, but has not played international cricket since.
One way or another, allrounder Chris Sabburg will be a surprise package in this tournament if he plays. Why? Because he is yet to bat or bowl for Brisbane Heat, despite playing for them three times last summer. He did, however, take five catches, and has an impressive pedigree - he is the cousin of former Australia fast bowler Andy Bichel and the nephew of the former Queensland fast bowler Dirk Tazelaar. A worker at Brisbane's fruit and vegetable markets, Sabburg bowls offspin and bats left-handed.
Given the subcontinental pitches on which this tournament will be played, the Heat's spin depth could be a concern. Hauritz is the only specialist spinner in the squad, and Sabburg is the only man who could offer him any significant backup, although Lynn's part-time left-armers have been used on occasion. It also appears doubtful whether the squad boasts enough big-hitting batsmen, the same issue that might affect their compatriots the Perth Scorchers.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here