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BBL switch: overseas departures, Australia Test star arrivals

Faf du Plessis, Trent Boult and James Vince are among those leaving for other leagues

Marnus Labuschagne, Travis Head and Steven Smith are among those returning  •  Getty Images

Marnus Labuschagne, Travis Head and Steven Smith are among those returning  •  Getty Images

As a rejuvenated BBL heads towards the pointy end of the season, teams will look markedly different with a number of high-profile players heading to new cashed-up leagues in the UAE and South Africa. But several Australia Test stars will return before heading to India to whip up plenty of interest ahead of the finals.

Adelaide Strikers

Departing Chris Lynn, Rashid Khan
Returning Alex Carey, Travis Head
It's mixed news for Adelaide Strikers. They lose Chris Lynn, who recently wound back the clock with his big-hitting exploits after a slow start with his new team. Lynn's last game will be his second against former side Brisbane Heat on January 14 before his contentious move to the ILT20 in the UAE.
His exit is softened by the returns of Test players Travis Head and Alex Carey. Head will assume the captaincy and has been in belligerent form as a No. 6 for Australia while wicketkeeper-batter Carey notched his first Test century during the Boxing Day Test.
Strikers' big loss is star spinner Rashid Khan, who played his last game of the season on January 5 against Hobart Hurricanes before heading to South Africa's T20 league. Strikers' talisman took six wickets in seven innings at an economy of 6.43 and his match-winning skill along with his passion - which manifested during several feisty confrontations with batters - will be sorely missed.

Brisbane Heat

Departing Sam Billings, Colin Munro
Returning Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne
It is almost a straight swap for struggling Heat, who need a strong backend to reach the finals. Star overseas signings Sam Billings and Colin Munro have been hot and cold but shown occasional brilliance with the bat.
They head to the UAE, where Munro will captain Desert Vipers, but are effectively replaced by Test stars Usman Khawaja and Marnus Labuschagne. After being a foundation player with Sydney Thunder, where he scored 1818 runs in 59 innings, Queensland captain Khawaja will take the reins as skipper and set to replace Munro at the top of the order alongside explosive Josh Brown.
Labuschagne, who only played one BBL game last season, could slot in at No.4 in place of Billings.

Hobart Hurricanes

Departing Shadab Khan
Allrounder Shadab Khan has returned to international duties with Pakistan although a broken finger saw him miss several games before he left. Shadab took seven wickets in five games at an economy of 7.58, but he was unsuccessfully used at No. 4 before moving down the order.
Allrounder Jimmy Neesham left last month and will head to South Africa after an underwhelming stint. He batted mostly at No. 6 or No. 7 but his best effort came with a 19-ball 28 in Hurricanes' tense win over Renegades. He was also expensive with the ball and claimed just one wicket.
They don't have any incumbent Test players although batter Zak Crawley and allrounder Faheem Ashraf have both recently joined Hurricanes after playing in the England-Pakistan Test series.

Melbourne Renegades

Departing Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Akeal Hosein
Returning Marcus Harris
Renegades have lost spin duo Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Akeal Hosein, who both headed to the ILT20 in the UAE. They formed an effective spin duo with 20 wickets between them.
Left-armer Hosein was eye-catching in his first BBL season and proved particularly menacing on the slower surface in Geelong. He also unleashed his big-hitting capabilities in the death overs on several occasions.
With skipper Nic Maddinson ruled out for the remainder of the season with a long-term knee injury, the return of Marcus Harris from Australia's Test squad is welcome.

Melbourne Stars

Departing Trent Boult
While his compatriots have been toiling in Pakistan, long-time New Zealand spearhead Trent Boult has had a taste of the BBL. In his first season, it's been tough going for Boult who had mixed success with the ball for struggling Stars. Although he provided unexpected entertainment with the bat marked by a T20 career best of 23 not out against Scorchers at Optus Stadium.

Perth Scorchers

Departing Faf du Plessis, Adam Lyth
Returning Lance Morris, Ashton Agar
Scorchers have had to remake their top order after the departures of opening pair Faf du Plessis and Adam Lyth.
Former Test captain du Plessis returned home to be part of South Africa's inaugural T20 league. There was much excitement in the west over the late signing of du Plessis, who was embraced by locals after being an antagonist for Australian fans over the years.
He smashed a rapid half-century in Perth Scorchers' record 7 for 229 against Stars but made single digits in three of his last four games. Lyth had a BBL to forget but will hope for better success in UAE with Desert Vipers, where he is set to open alongside compatriot Alex Hales.
Scorchers have regained tearaway Lance Morris in a timely addition after Jhye Richardson's recent hamstring injury. Having moved up the pecking order in Australia's crowded Test pace stocks, Morris is hoping for a breakout BBL season after modest success previously.
Spinning allrounder Ashton Agar returns after playing in the third Test at the SCG but Cameron Green has been ruled out of his stint with a broken finger. They also have Middlesex's Stephen Eskinazi on their books

Sydney Sixers

Departed Chris Jordan, James Vince, Naveen-ul-Haq
Returning Steven Smith, Nathan Lyon
Sixers lose veterans Chris Jordan and James Vince, who both head to the UAE. T20 World Cup winner Jordan arrived late to the BBL and only had limited availability although his athletic fielding was a standout.
Vince, a star for Sixers over the years, frustratingly couldn't kick on from several solid platforms until a devastating 91 not out in a successful chase against Stars. He will captain Gulf Giants in the ILT20. Afghanistan quick Naveen-ul-Haq is also UAE bound.
But they will be boosted by the inclusion of stars Steven Smith and Nathan Lyon. There will be much anticipation for the return of Smith, who farcically missed last season's finals series despite being available.
Smith famously captained Sixers to the title in the first edition of the BBL in 2012 but his four games in BBL09 were his only appearances in the competition since 2013-14. Smith might replace Vince at No. 3, while Lyon will provide much needed experience for Sixers who have been reliant on young spinners Izharulhaq Naveed and Todd Murphy.

Sydney Thunder

Departing Alex Hales, Rilee Rossouw
Returning David Warner
After their embarrassing capitulation for 15 against Strikers, Alex Hales helped revive Thunder with three half-centuries in four games before departing to the UAE.
They lose more batting firepower with Rilee Rossouw heading home to play in South Africa's T20 league although he generally struggled to get going.
But Warner is set to soften the blow and his return to the BBL is set to be one of the most anticipated moments in the competition's history. He has only played three BBL matches previously with the last being in December 2013.

Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth