Sydney Thunder BBL preview: Adam Milne's pace and lack of absences set them up well
The Thunder will feel very little impact of international duty except for a late start by Sam Billings
Coach Shane Bond
Squad Sam Billings (Eng), Jonathan Cook, Ben Cutting, Oliver Davies, Brendan Doggett, Callum Ferguson, Matt Gilkes, Chris Green, Alex Hales (Eng), Baxter Holt, Usman Khawaja, Nathan McAndrew, Adam Milne (NZ), Arjun Nair, Alex Ross, Daniel Sams, Jason Sangha, Tanveer Sangha, Chris Tremain
In Sam Billings, Ben Cutting (Heat), Baxter Holt, Adam Milne
Out Jay Lenton, Gurinder Sandhu
Overseas player availability Sam Billings (in quarantine until approx. Dec 25), Alex Hales (all tournament), Adam Milne (all tournament)
Last season: Challenger final
A promising start to the tournament where they had three wins in five matches - and could well have had four if the match against the Strikers in Canberra had not been abandoned due to the smoke from nearby bushfires - become more of a struggle in mid-season. However, they clinched fifth place in a virtual knockout against the Scorchers then kept themselves alive with victories in the Eliminator against the Hurricanes and the (actual) Knockout final against the Strikers. However, needing one more win to reach the final they fell to the Stars at the MCG.
They are the only team not to have suffered any impact from the various Australia squads (as of now). Usman Khawaja would have been closest to a spot, but he was overlooked for the enlarged Test group. Given that two of their overseas players - Alex Hales and Adam Milne - are not involved with their respective national sides the only early loss they will need to cover is England wicketkeeper-batsman Sam Billings while he serves his 14-day quarantine after arriving from South Africa.
Player to watch
On his day, Adam Milne can be quick. Very quick. But his body has struggled to stand up to the strain. It is almost a decade since he made his international debut (in a T20I against Pakistan) and it has been a stop-start career. When he takes the field for the Thunder, having opted for a BBL deal ahead of New Zealand domestic cricket, it will be his first game since August 2019 when he suffered an ankle stress fracture playing for Kent and hopes of Plunket Shield cricket early in the season were hit by a hamstring injury. His overall T20 numbers - 116 wickets at 22.32 with an economy of 7.65 - are impressive and he will form a lively attack with Daniel Sams, Brendon Doggett and Chris Tremain. He could be an x-factor for the Thunder, if he can stay on the park.
Key stat (Gaurav Sundararaman)
No one took more wickets in the last four overs (33) than Sydney Thunder last season. This was mainly due to the bowling of Sams. He finished with 15 wickets in the death (overs 17-20) at an average of 10.33.
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo