The Melbourne Stars have poached three current and former state captains from around the country in a bid to be the tactical masters of the Big Bash League. The MCG-based Stars have signed Adam Voges, a regular stand-in skipper of Western Australia, Chris Simpson, the former Queensland captain, and the Tasmania leader, George Bailey.
The trio will be joined by Victoria's captain, Cameron White, and the man who has often deputised for him at state level, David Hussey. The Stars were the last of the eight city-based sides to confirm its first players, but coach Greg Shipperd said he was thrilled to have secured five such experienced and level-headed men.
"We wanted players who understood the pressure of the game, understood the tactical side of the game," Shipperd said. "We'd be disappointed across the course of the competition if we were tactically out-thought. It's very important in starting off a new franchise that we get things right both on and off the field. With those five signings today we've started in the right direction."
Bailey would have been the logical choice as captain of the Hobart Hurricanes, but he has a Melbourne-based girlfriend and was keen to spend time in Victoria. Simpson, an offspinning allrounder, lost his Queensland contract this year after slipping out of the Sheffield Shield and Ryobi Cup sides, but remains a potential matchwinner in Twenty20.
Attracting Voges, who has played 19 ODIs and Twenty20s for Australia, was a bonus, and he should be available for the full competition having dropped out of Cricket Australia's 25-man contract list. Hussey considered a similar cross-country move to return to his home city of Perth, but decided to remain in Melbourne.
"There was a little bit of a thought there," Hussey said. "My wife and I are both from Perth, but playing at the MCG under Shippy and [assistant coach] Damien Wright is a pretty big motivation to stay here."
Meanwhile, the Adelaide Strikers have signed up another seven players, all men who are currently on the books with South Australia. Callum Ferguson, Aiden Blizzard, Kane Richardson, Tom Cooper, Aaron O'Brien, Michael Klinger and Nathan Lyon have joined the Strikers, who had already secured Cameron Borgas and Daniel Harris.
However they were unable to secure the signature of the allrounder Dan Christian, who has decamped to the Brisbane Heat, a team that happens to be coached by Darren Lehmann, Christian's coach at Deccan Chargers in the IPL.
"You want quality people with great skills in your organisation and Dan certainly brings both," the Heat's general manager Andrew Blucher said. "He is a very clever bowler, a very powerful batsman and simply a great signing for our team."
The Strikers are believed to be trying to leave room in their salary cap to sign Kieron Pollard and Shahid Afridi, while the return of legspinner Adil Rashid to the Adelaide Oval is also a possibility.
The Sydney Sixers have added Tasmania opener Ed Cowan, who is originally from Sydney, to their list, along with the fast bowler Mitchell Starc. Ricky Ponting signed with the Hobart Hurricanes, and is hoping to play two matches early in the campaign between Test matches.