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How the BBL finalists stack up as Ashes stars return

Perth Scorchers, Sydney Sixers, Sydney Thunder, Adelaide Strikers and Hobart Hurricanes are left chasing the prize

Mitchell Marsh, Scott Boland and Travis Head are among those back for finals  •  Getty Images

Mitchell Marsh, Scott Boland and Travis Head are among those back for finals  •  Getty Images

After a turbulent regular season, the BBL has pushed through Covid-19 upheaval as a much-anticipated finals series starts on schedule on Friday. Amid player movement, where several of Australia's Ashes heroes return, here's a round-up of the five teams eyeing the BBL title.

Perth Scorchers

The minor premiers received a massive boost in their regular season finale against Brisbane Heat with the inclusions of Mitchell Marsh and Josh Inglis, who both hadn't played since December 28 after being called up into Australia's Ashes squad.
New Zealand import Colin Munro also returned after recovering from Covid-19 while star allrounder Ashton Agar was back after missing one match due to a shoulder injury.
Scorchers will enter the Qualifier on Saturday almost full-strength with quick Jhye Richardson available for his first match of the season after being part of Australia's squad for the entire Ashes. English import Laurie Evans, who had cemented a position in the middle-order, is injured with a broken toe suffered last week against Adelaide Strikers, while quick Matt Kelly and batter Cameron Bancroft are currently sidelined after testing positive to Covid-19.
Canny left-arm quick Tymal Mills had been a key part of Scorchers' strong early season form having taken 12 wickets from seven matches before being called up for England's T20 tour of the Caribbean.

Sydney Sixers

In search of a hat-trick of titles, they have been bolstered by the return of Test spinner Nathan Lyon, who made his season debut against Heat on Wednesday. Justin Avendano, who is the first BBL player to play for two teams in the same season after featuring for Covid-hit Melbourne Stars earlier in the month, has cemented a spot in the squad after a recent whirlwind half-century against Adelaide Strikers.
Sixers have dealt with personnel changes throughout the season with imports Tom Curran, Chris Jordan, James Vince and Shadab Khan departing at various stages.

Sydney Thunder

Captain Usman Khawaja is Thunder's big addition having backed up his Ashes heroics with a BBL season debut against Melbourne Renegades on Wednesday.
Thunder had been rocked by Covid-19 earlier in the month but their affected players, including Alex Ross, Chris Green and Sam Whiteman, are back in the line-up.
However, they will be without Sam Billings, who made his Test debut in Hobart and has since joined England's tour of the Caribbean, with the wicketkeeper-batter having been a key cog in the line-up after a terrific season where he averaged 40.57 with a strike rate of 153.51 from nine innings.
Their pace attack will have less venom without Pakistan quick Mohammad Hasnain and English import Saqib Mahmood, who both bowled rapidly until being called up for national duties, although Hasnain was reported for a suspect action.

Adelaide Strikers

In-form Strikers have benefited the most from the returns of Australia's Test players with Ashes dynamo Travis Head and wicketkeeper-batter Alex Carey back in the fold.
They strengthen an improved batting order which suddenly looks well stocked since Matthew Renshaw came into the line-up after Australia A duties and the emergence of Englishman Ian Cockbain.
The 34-year-old, who was plucked from club cricket in Melbourne, smashed an unbeaten 71 to power Strikers past Sixers earlier in the week in an eye-catching knock that helped him secure a PSL contract with Karachi Kings.
Strikers, however, will need to go all the way without star spinner Rashid Khan, who recently left due to national duties with Afghanistan. Left-arm seamer George Garton had departed earlier in the season because of England commitments although he had minimal impact with six wickets from six games and was eventually dropped.

Hobart Hurricanes

Hurricanes, who secured the last BBL playoff spot on Tuesday after beating Renegades, have regained the services of Ashes cult hero Scott Boland, who lined up against Stars in their regular season finale on Wednesday.
Boland's only previous BBL match this season was against Scorchers on December 14, where he took 1 for 45. His inclusion strengthens Hurricanes' attack missing injured quicks Nathan Ellis and Joel Paris. They rested their main attack for the final regular-season game against Stars and were dealt a record-breaking hammering.

Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth