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Hales, Warner bring the stardust but local names the key for Sydney Thunder

They have a young captain in Jason Sangha and Daniel Sams will have a vital role with bat and ball

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
12-Dec-2022
What impact can Alex Hales have in the first part of the tournament?  •  Getty Images

What impact can Alex Hales have in the first part of the tournament?  •  Getty Images

Captain Jason Sangha
Coach Trevor Bayliss

Squad

Ben Cutting, Ollie Davies, Brendan Doggett, Fazalhaq Farooqi (Afghanistan), Matthew Gilkes, Chris Green, Alex Hales (England), Baxter Holt, Nathan McAndrew, Usman Qadir (Pakistan), Alex Ross, Rilee Rossouw (South Africa), Daniel Sams, Gurinder Sandhu, Jason Sangha, Tanveer Sangha, David Warner, Sam Whiteman
In Rilee Rossouw, David Warner, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Sam Whiteman, Usman Qadir
Out Sam Billings, Usman Khawaja, Jonathan Cook, Saqib Mahmood, Chris Tremain, Mohammad Hasnain

What happened in the draft

It felt like they had done well with Alex Hales, David Willey and Rilee Rossouw. Willey was an enticing platinum pick with his availability for most of the season, but he recently withdrew from the deal sending Thunder back to the drawing board and they brought in Afghanistan left-armer Fazalhaq Farooqi. Hales will return to his long-term club on the back of T20 World Cup success and Rossouw has had an impressive season in the format. Both, however, will only be around until early January.

Last season: Knockout

Thunder reached the finals on the back of a strong mid-season run where they won six games on the bounce including a 129-run hammering of Melbourne Renegades where Daniel Sams hit an astonishing 98 off 44 balls. But they fell short against Adelaide Strikers where they had got the equation down to 39 off 23 balls then 14 off the last over which Harry Conway was able to defend. Jason Sangha led the run-scoring with 445 at 49.44 and a strike-rate of 132.04 and Sams was the leading wicket-taker with 19 although Tanveer Sangha and Gurinder Sandhu were the most consistent performers.

International impact

The return of David Warner to the BBL was the big off-season story, but the window for his availability after the South Africa series may shrink with the squad due to depart for India in late January. Still, when he does suit up in green it will be one of the most anticipated moments of the tournament - especially the derby clash with Steven Smith's Sydney Sixers. Beyond that, and the overseas players, Thunder are unlikely to be hit by international call-ups as they have no one else in the Test set-up with Usman Khawaja having moved to Brisbane Heat.

Key player

Daniel Sams is another player who might feel he has a part to play in the future of Australia's T20 side after being on the fringes in recent seasons. For Thunder, he will have a big role to play with bat and ball, although with the later bringing down his economy rate a touch may help his international ambitions. In terms of the batting, it will be interesting to see how and where he is used. As he showed last season with that 98 he has the potential to be destructive, although that innings was an outlier in the campaign. But since then he has produced equally powerful innings in the T20 Blast (71 off 24 balls) and the Hundred (55 off 25 balls).

Young player to watch

Tanveer Sangha's stress fracture is a blow to their bowling attack, but Ollie Davies caused instant excitement when he struck two quickfire innings at the start of his BBL career in late 2020, but things have been tougher since then making 74 in 11 innings. The early stages of this season were hindered as he came back from a hip injury but in November in made 115 off 106 balls playing for the combined NSW/ACT XI against West Indies in Canberra.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo