Revamped Renegades hope to climb off the bottom

Hopes are high for a resurgence from Renegades with the help of new overseas players including Andre Russell, Martin Guptill, Akeal Hosein and Mujeeb Ur Rahman

Alex Malcolm
Alex Malcolm
Aaron Finch and Nic Maddinson put up 130 runs for the second wicket, Perth Scorchers vs Melbourne Renegades, BBL 2021-22, Melbourne, December 22, 2021

Aaron Finch and Nic Maddinson will need to step up for Renegades  •  Cricket Australia via Getty Images

Captain Nic Maddinson
Coach David Saker
Squad Nic Maddinson, Zak Evans, Aaron Finch, Jake Fraser-McGurk, Martin Guptill (New Zealand), Peter Handscomb, Sam Harper, Marcus Harris, Mackenzie Harvey, Akeal Hosein (West Indies), Ruwantha Kellapotha (Sri Lanka), Shaun Marsh, David Moody, Jack Prestwidge, Kane Richardson, Corey Rocchiccioli, Tom Rogers, Andre Russell (West Indies), Will Sutherland, Mujeeb Ur Rahman (Afghanistan), Jon Wells
In Martin Guptill, Peter Handscomb, Akeal Hosein, Ruwantha Kellapotha, David Moody, Corey Rocchiccioli, Tom Rogers, Andre Russell, Mujeed Ur Rahman
Out Unmukt Chand, Jono Merlo, James Seymour, Mohammad Nabi, James Pattinson, Cameron Boyce, Josh Lalor, Zahir Khan, Reece Topley

What happened in the draft

Renegades had an excellent draft on the night but their best-laid plans were thrown in chaos when Liam Livingstone, the No. 1 platinum pick and most sought-after man in the draft, was picked in England's Test squad and decided to withdraw from the BBL. Renegades' two other draft picks, Akeal Hosein and Mujeeb Ur Rahman are still coming to the BBL and could form a destructive spin duo, especially at Docklands Stadium and Kardinya Park in Geelong. But both will leave the tournament in early January to head to the ILT20 in the UAE. Renegades have been able to secure some very good replacements for Livingstone at least with Andre Russell available to play the first four games of the season while Martin Guptill is available for the next 10 after that, giving Renegades some real international quality in their batting department.

Last season: Eighth

Despite a change of coach and a stronger looking attack Renegades maintained their stranglehold on the BBL wooden spoon last season, finishing last for the third tournament in a row. They had aimed to build a game plan around a strong well-rounded attack but injuries cruelled them with only Zahir Khan managing to play the entire season. Their batters struggled again with not one single player capable of striking at more than 132 and availability was also an issue with Aaron Finch and Shaun Marsh also battling injuries. They only managed three wins for the season, with one coming against a Covid-depleted Melbourne Stars side. Even in the last game of the season, they failed to get over the line against Sydney Thunder despite legspinner Cameron Boyce bagging four wickets in four balls and Finch making 82.

International impact

Marcus Harris is currently away with Australia's Test squad but there is a possibility he could be released to play in the BBL at various stages where it suits. They had already lost Livingstone to England duty. Russell is playing the first four games but that will be offset by Guptill's arrival. They will also lose Hosein and Mujeeb to the ILT20 after the January 7 game against Hobart Hurricanes but they are available for the first nine games of the season.

Key player

Nic Maddinson has flattered to deceive in T20 cricket. He has all the tools to be an outstanding T20 player. He has the power, the 360-degree capabilities and the experience having played for Australia, in the IPL, CPL and the Blast. But since moving from Sydney to Melbourne for a fresh start with Victoria, he has really struggled in the BBL despite flourishing at first-class level. He has averaged 14.44 struck at just 104 in his last 39 T20 innings. Renegades made him captain last year in his first season after moving from Melbourne Stars but he struggled in the difficult middle-order roles. He is set to go back to the top where he made his name for Sydney Sixers in the past. Fast starts and big runs from Maddinson will help set Renegades up for success given they have added more middle-order experience in Jon Wells.

Young player to watch

It's hard to call Sam Harper a young player given he is 26 and in his seventh season as a professional cricketer, but his batting looks in the best shape it has done for quite some time at Sheffield Shield level having posted a century and a half-century this season. He has shown glimpses in BBL's past, including some excellent contributions in Renegades' lone title in 2018-19. However, he has struggled to bed down a defined role since, but this might be the season where he could string together some consistency. He will be given the chance to play with some freedom given there are likely to be more experienced players around him than there has been in the recent past.

Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo