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BBL previews: Melbourne Stars and Perth Scorchers

If available, Glenn Maxwell will be pivotal to the Stars' batting Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images

Melbourne Stars

Captain: Glenn Maxwell

Coach: David Hussey

Overseas players: Sandeep Lamichhane (Nepal), Dale Steyn (South Africa - first six matches), Pat Brown (England - expected from January 8)

Full squad: Pat Brown (overseas replacement), Hilton Cartwright, Jackson Coleman, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Ben Dunk, Seb Gotch, Peter Handscomb, Clint Hinchliffe, Sandeep Lamichhane, Nick Larkin, Nic Maddinson, Glenn Maxwell, Jonathan Merlo, Lance Morris, Tom O'Connell, Dale Steyn, Marcus Stoinis, Daniel Worrall, Adam Zampa

Last season: 2nd

They suffered a heartbreaking defeat in the final, collapsing from an unlosable position against the Renegades. But they rode the wave of momentum to make the final after finishing fourth. There were a lot of positives to take out of their best season to date despite the bitter disappointment at the end.

What's changed for the season?

They have a new coach after Stephen Fleming stepped down. Former captain David Hussey takes the reigns of a squad that has shaped nicely. They have added Dale Steyn and Pat Brown as their overseas fast bowlers who will play roughly half the tournament each as well as Nathan Coulter-Nile, who is primed to play a big part in what could be his first full BBL for many years. Hilton Cartwright also comes into the squad as an all-round option. He has a modest T20 record with the bat, but he and Coulter-Nile add exceptional athleticism in the field which the Stars view as vital on the wide expanses of the MCG.

Australia impact

Maxwell's availability will be a big question. He has been away from cricket since October to manage his mental health, but is back playing club cricket in Melbourne and looks set for the BBL. Normally, he would be an automatic pick for the India ODI tour but the Stars will benefit if he doesn't go. Marcus Stoinis, Peter Handscomb, and Coulter-Nile could be in the national frame but seem more unlikely than likely, which again helps the Stars. The only man they may miss is Adam Zampa, who will almost certainly travel to India.

Player to watch

Nic Maddinson had also taken a mental health break this season but he is in the form of his life with the bat and seems most comfortable in the Melbourne environment. He could be primed for a big tournament with a settled role.

Key stat (Gaurav Sundararaman)

Among 32 bowlers who have bowled over 200 deliveries in the last four overs of a T20 match, Pat Brown has the best average - 12.42 - for any pace bowler. His death bowling and variations in the T20 Blast is the reason why the Stars have punted on Brown. It will be interesting to see how he bowls at the bigger grounds in Australia.

Perth Scorchers

Captain: Mitchell Marsh

Coach: Adam Voges

Overseas players: Liam Livingstone (England), Chris Jordan (England)

Full squad: Ashton Agar, Fawad Ahmed, Cameron Bancroft, Jason Behrendorff, Cameron Green, Aaron Hardie, Nick Hobson, Josh Inglis, Chris Jordan, Matthew Kelly, Liam Livingstone, Mitchell Marsh, Joel Paris, Kurtis Patterson, Jhye Richardson, Ashton Turner, Andrew Tye, Sam Whiteman

Last season: 8th

The Scorchers had been - and still are - the most successful team in BBL history, having not missed the finals in seven seasons, which included three titles. But after finishing top of the table in BBL07 and losing the semi-final, they finished last in BBL08 winning just four games.

What's changed for the season?

They have completely overhauled their list. Simon Katich has been working as a consultant with new high-performance manager Kade Harvey. Shaun Marsh (Renegades), Michael Klinger (retired), Nathan Coulter-Nile (Stars), Hilton Cartwright (Stars), Clint Hinchcliffe (Stars), Usman Qadir (not contracted) and David Willey (not contracted) have all departed. They have signed Liam Livingstone and Chris Jordan as new overseas players. Fawad Ahmed comes in from the Sydney Thunder to change the dynamic of the attack with AJ Tye and Jason Behrendorff out injured. Kurtis Patterson has been signed as part of a new-look top order alongside Livingstone.

Australia impact

They won't be as affected as other teams. Australia's one-day tour of India could see Ashton Turner and Jhye Richardson leave for five games if selected, but it is highly unlikely they will lose any others. Injuries are a bigger issue.

Player to watch

Matthew Kelly only played seven games last season but he made an impression with his death bowling, taking 11 wickets at a strike rate of 14.7. Given the injuries to key bowling personnel, he will be a pivotal player this season.

Key stat (Gaurav Sundararaman)

In this day and age, where spin plays a big role in T20s, the Scorchers have predominantly been dependent on their pace bowling to win titles. It has worked for them until last season. In the last edition, the Scorchers took only 13 wickets with spin at an average of 33. No team took fewer wickets with spin. This edition they are looking to better that record with more variety in the attack.