Bowling resources and allrounder on Melbourne Renegades' BBL shopping list

New head coach David Saker has the task turning around the club after two miserable seasons

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
Zak Evans celebrates a wicket with his team-mates, Melbourne Renegades vs Hobart Hurricanes, BBL 2020-21, Melbourne, January 26, 2021

The Melbourne Renegades are looking to bounce back from two dire seasons  •  Getty Images

Strengthening the bowling stocks and finding a top-order allrounder are among new head coach David Saker's main priorities as he tries to turn around Melbourne Renegades from back-to-back wooden spoons in the BBL.
The Renegades already have 14 of their list locked in for the 2021-22 season but Saker and his recruitment team will be looking to do some smart business over the coming months.
That may include the first BBL draft for overseas players if that innovation is brought in having been delayed by Covid-19. Saker, though, is not entirely convinced by the model. However, he has a pretty firm idea on the areas he needs to bolster after the side registered just seven wins in 28 matches over the last two seasons.
He is expecting to need to cover for the absence of James Pattinson on Australia duty - although it will be hoped that releasing players from squads may be easier next summer if fewer Covid restrictions are in place - and he wants someone in the top order to offer significant overs.
"Obviously recruiting a good overseas [player] who will be very important for us," Saker said. "I've got some ideas, but we still don't know exactly what's going to happen, [if] there's going to be a draft system. An allrounder who can bowl a bit and bat in your top five or six [is] pretty handy in T20 cricket, [so] you probably need one of your top six batters to bowl some overs for you.
"That'll probably be high on our priority but we've also got some really good around allrounders ourselves with Will Sutherland and Jack Prestwidge. We're probably looking at our bowling stocks. If we have James Pattinson for the whole series that might be different, but you would assume that he'd be away with the Australian team at different times, and [Kane] Richardson's obviously a beauty and one of the better white-ball players in the world. So if we can sort of base ourselves around those guys and add a couple of good overseas players, I think we will be a really strong unit."
Although only two players passed 300 runs last season - Sam Harper and Shaun Marsh - and no one averaged more than 28, compounded by Aaron Finch's lean campaign where he made 179 runs at 13.76, Saker backed the batting to come good.
"On paper, when you look at Shaun Marsh, Aaron Finch and Sammy Harper at the top, they're as good as any [top] three in the competition so you would hope you can base the batting around that," he said. "We've got some really good young talent in place in Jake Fraser-McGurk and MacKenzie Harvey, so that's the exciting thing."
Saker acknowledged that the impact of Covid-19 could again add to the challenges of attracting overseas players. Last season the Renegades' overseas names were Imad Wasim, Noor Ahmad, Rilee Rossouw, and Mohammad Nabi.
He is not fully convinced by the prospect of the draft although one of his main concerns is teams losing established names which may be avoided by a right-to-match option. However, if the draft was to follow a model of the bottom team of the previous season having first pick, the Renegades would be able to make an early play for who they wanted.
"I don't actually agree with it but right now obviously it would favour us. The thing that I don't really want to see is players that have played a long time at one club get put in a draft and then have to be moved.
"I'm not sure how the rules [will work], and there's no doubt you're going to have first dibs at certain players, but you don't want an icon player, for example Alex Hales who has been playing for Thunder and looks like he's enjoying himself there, ending up somewhere else. I just don't think that's a great look and it's not great for the fan base, but we don't know how it's going work until it starts."
Saker was, though, supportive of the innovations brought into the BBL last season which included the Power Surge, Bash Boost Point and X-factor player replacement. "The different rules made it excellent to watch and a little bit different. I'm not always a big fan of going away from the format that's played in the World Cups but it did look like it was a really good product."
Current Renegades squad Cameron Boyce, Zak Evans, Aaron Finch (capt), Jake Fraser-McGurk, Sam Harper, Marcus Harris, Mackenzie Harvey, Josh Lalor, Shaun Marsh, James Pattinson, Mitch Perry, Jack Prestwidge, Kane Richardson, Will Sutherland

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo