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Stable Sixers have the ingredients to be challengers again

There are plenty of familiar names in the squad and a certain S Smith will join for a handful of games

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
13-Dec-2022
Josh Philippe goes over the infield  •  Getty Images

Josh Philippe goes over the infield  •  Getty Images

Captain Moises Henriques
Coach Greg Shipperd
Squad Sean Abbott, Jackson Bird, Dan Christian, Ben Dwarshuis, Jack Edwards, Mickey Edwards, Moises Henriques, Daniel Hughes, Chris Jordan (England), Hayden Kerr, Nathan Lyon, Todd Murphy, Izharrulhaq Naveed (Afghanistan), Steve O'Keefe, Kurtis Patterson, Josh Philippe, Jordan Silk, James Vince (England)

What happened in the draft

Sixers went largely for what they know, but with one big surprise. Sixers are confident what they get from Chris Jordan and James Vince and very much like it, despite their limited availability. Jordan forms a strong line-up of quicks alongside Sean Abbott, Jackson Bird, Ben Dwarshuis and last year's breakout star Hayden Kerr. Vince can resume his opening pairing with Josh Philippe until January. The left-field pick was young Afghanistan spinner Izharulhaq Naveed, who coach Greg Shipperd appeared very excited about. However, both Jordan and Vince will only be around until early January before heading to the UAE so Sixers will need to be smart with their replacements.

Last season: Runners up

It started with a massive win and ended with a massive defeat. Sixers opened their season by hammering Melbourne Stars by 152 runs at the SCG but having reached another final they themselves were rolled for 92 by Perth Scorchers who beat them four times in the season. However, even reaching the final was a notable effort as they managed a remarkable victory in the Challenger where Hayden Kerr's magnificent 98 as an opener lit up the SCG. Overall it was another consistent season with just four defeats in the group stage as they fought hard around Covid issues. Moises Henriques was the leading run-scorer with 440 while Philippe impressed again with 429 and breakout star Kerr bagged 25 wickets as an ever-present part of the team.

International impact

As usual they will miss their Test stars to begin with but in a significant developed have finally secured Steven Smith after last season's farcical situation of him not being allowed to play despite being available. Nathan Lyon will also be available after the South Africa series and Sean Abbott should be around all the way through barring a spate of injuries to the Test attack. Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood will again sit out to prepare for the India tour. Todd Murphy may come into consideration for the India Test squad which is due to leave before the end of the BBL.

Key player

Sean Abbott is a very good cricketer who may end up being unlucky and not playing as much for Australia as he deserves. In T20s he is three-dimensional, about to bowl in all phases of the innings, providing middle-order hitting and is excellent in the field. Last season he was a touch on the expensive side at 8.18 but does operate when the pressure is on - and was still Sixers' second-leading wicket-taker with 19. With the Australia T20 side entering a new era ahead of the 2024 World Cup, and talk of restructuring the pace attack, a strong season for Abbott could put him front and centre.

Young player to watch

It's uncertain how much he will play, but Todd Murphy is a player making big strides and quickly. He has had an excellent first half of the season and it will be interesting to see whether he can squeeze into the XI and add to his four T20 appearances. Steve O'Keefe and Afghanistan's Izharrulhaq Naveed are the other spin options. However, even if he doesn't he will have the chance to link up again with Lyon who he has worked closely with in the past.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo