Big Bash 2021-22 team guide: Melbourne Stars

The Cricketer's in-depth look at the Stars ahead of the new campaign, including player analysis, strengths, weaknesses, and full squad and fixtures listings

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Coach: David Hussey

As a player, David Hussey captained Melbourne Stars between 2015 and 2017 before taking over as head coach for BBL09. In his first season at the helm, he led the Stars to the final but endured a tough second season, finishing seventh.

Captain: Glenn Maxwell

Australian international and veteran white-ball gun-for-hire Glenn Maxwell has skippered Melbourne Stars since 2018, leading them to the BBL final twice in three seasons. Only Marcus Stoinis has scored more than his 2,081 runs for the Stars while he has also taken 32 wickets in 82 appearances in green.

Overseas stars

Joe Clarke: A blistering top-order batter, Joe Clarke’s enviable T20 strike rate of 155.62 makes him an asset to any white-ball side. The uncapped Englishman has already enjoyed stints in the Pakistan Super League (Karachi Kings) and The Hundred (Manchester Originals) in 2021 and previously represented Perth Scorchers in BBL10.

Qais Ahmad: Despite only being 21 years old, Afghanistan spinner Qais Ahmad has become a familiar face on the franchise circuit and enters the tournament with 95 wickets in 87 career T20 appearances. He has previously represented Hobart Hurricanes, taking 19 wickets in 18 appearances, and won the T20 Blast with Kent Spitfires in 2021.

Haris Rauf: Pakistan fast bowler Haris Rauf is a familiar face to Stars fans, taking 21 wickets in 13 appearances over the past two seasons. The 28-year-old, who was Pakistan's second-highest wicket-taker at the recent T20 World Cup, will join up with Maxwell's side post-Christmas.

Andre Russell: A T20 icon, Russell is a last-minute call-up and will feature in five games. The West Indian allrounder, ranked fifth in the T20 Player Index, adds further power-hitting to the Stars batting. He is also a capable seamer, typically used to limit scoring at the death. Russell has experience in franchise competitions worldwide but has not featured in the BBL since 2017. He struggled in the T20 World Cup as West Indies crashed out in the Super 12s, but an unbeaten 32-ball 90 in the T10 league was a reminder that the 33-year-old has plenty left to give.

Ahmed Daniyal: Signed to bolster Melbourne's pace options, Ahmed Daniyal burst onto the scene during the 2020-21 T10 League, taking five wickets in eight appearances, before making his Pakistan Super League debut for Lahore Qalandars later in the season. He has just 10 T20 appearances to his name but, like Rauf, is a bright product of the Lahore Qalandars talent programme.

Changes from 2020

Haris Rauf is the only overseas player to retain his place with the Stars, with Zahir Khan, Nicholas Pooran and Andre Fletcher making way for Joe Clarke, Andre Russell, Ahmed Daniyal and Qais Ahmad. Nic Maddinson (both Melbourne Renegades) and bowler Lance Morris (Perth Scorchers) have also departed while allrounder Beau Webster (formerly of Melbourne Renegades), batter Joe Burns (Brisbane Heat) and young pacer Sam Elliott are among the new faces in green.

How did they do in 2020?

After reaching the final in the previous two tournaments, Melbourne Stars endured a poor BBL 10, winning just five matches and missing out on the playoffs by four points.

Best finish: Runners-up (2015/16, 2018/19, 2019/20)

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Glenn Maxwell skippers Melbourne Stars (Mike Owen/Getty Images)

BATTING

Power hitters

Melbourne Stars have had two of cricket’s biggest white-ball hitters in their ranks for many years, with Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis scoring a combined 351 fours and 163 sixes for the franchise. Fellow top order batter Nick Larkin highlighted his own big-hitting potential last season, scoring 70 off 44 balls against Perth Scorchers. However, by adding Joe Clarke to their squad, they’ve taken things to another level. The Nottinghamshire opener amassed 408 runs at 37.09 in the 2021 T20 Blast – 282 of which came from boundaries – and scored at a strike rate of 180.53. All in all, the Stars have built an enviable top four or five.

Anchor

In the absence of a Steve Smith, Virat Kohli or Kane Williamson figure, Stoinis adopts the role of anchorman. Opening the batting alongside Andre Fletcher last season, his tendency to start slowly coupled with his partner’s inconsistency proved costly – Melbourne averaged just 28 in the powerplay. However, a partnership with the free-scoring Clarke, for example, should give Stoinis time to read the conditions before exploding into life.

Finisher

On paper, the Stars have a few options in this area, with Glenn Maxwell, aka The Big Show, the obvious choice. However, further down the order, Hilton Cartwright is no slouch at No.5 or No.6, scoring 239 runs at a strike rate of 143.97 last season. Likewise, allrounder Beau Webster flexed his finisher credentials against the Stars in BBL10, scoring 22 runs from just nine balls to complete an unlikely chase for the Renegades, while Qais Ahmad is no stranger to a free-swinging cameo – he even scored an unbeaten half-century off 22 balls for Colombo Kings against Dambulla Vikings last December. And of course, for five matches they have the services of T20 supremo Andre Russell, whose career strike rate of 169.56 will leave more than a few bowling attacks feeling nervous.

Problem areas

Two areas of concern. Firstly, after a stunning IPL with Royal Challengers Bangalore, Maxwell was a shadow of himself at the World Cup, scoring 64 runs at a run a ball in seven innings. For the Stars’ sake you have to hope it was a blip. Secondly, while the arrival of Clarke and the experienced Joe Burns have bolstered their top six options, the lack of a dedicated anchor remains a worry. Maxwell will have to be willing to experiment with his order to get the best out of Stoinis and co.

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Adam Zampa's leg-spin is a major asset for Stars (Mike Owen/Getty Images)

BOWLING

Speed merchants

The main trio are Nathan Coulter-Nile, Billy Stanlake and Liam Hatcher. Coulter-Nile is the death specialist who took 11 wickets in just six appearances in BBL10, while Stanlake offers intimidating pace and bounce with his 204cm frame. Hatcher, meanwhile, was one of the breakout talents of last season’s tournament, taking 13 wickets and regularly reaching 140kph in his debut campaign.

And then there's Haris Rauf. The Pakistan international is only available from December 27 but took 20 wickets in 10 appearances in his debut campaign in green in BBL09. An intimidating pace option, Rauf took eight wickets at the recent T20 World Cup, including figures of 4 for 22 against New Zealand in Sharjah.

Stoinis, Russell, Sam Rainbird and Ahmed Daniyal are the other pace options.

Variation

Melbourne Stars have one of the best spin attacks in the competition, with Afghanistan international Qais Ahmad joining middle-overs specialist Adam Zampa in green. Little needs to be said about Zampa, who took 19 wickets in BBL10 and was the second-highest wicket-taker at the recent T20 World Cup, while Ahmad can be expected to deceive batters with his flight and unexpected pace. Part-time support is provided by Maxwell, Webster (who bowls both medium pace and off-spin) and Clint Hinchliffe, the latter’s left-arm deliveries also offering the option of a right-arm, left-arm attack.

Problem areas

The Stars are very right-arm heavy, with only Hinchliffe (a rare bowler) and Rainbird (not a guaranteed starter) bowling left-handed. However, their biggest issue remains their death bowling – remember when they failed to defend 62 runs off 27 balls against Melbourne Renegades? Granted, they weren’t helped by a mid-tournament injury to Coulter-Nile or the limited availability of Haris Rauf, but with the Pakistan international once again absent for a chunk of the tournament, the pressure is on the former to firstly, remain fit and secondly, do the bulk of the work at the death. Who he will bowl with is anyone’s guess.

Who takes the gloves?

Seb Gotch is Melbourne Stars first-choice wicketkeeper and has completed 23 dismissals in 26 innings. However, the 28-year-old is currently battling an ongoing finger injury and hasn’t played a match in any format since March 2021. Englishman Joe Clarke could deputise with the gloves.

Squad: Hilton Cartwright, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Seb Gotch, Liam Hatcher, Clint Hinchliffe, Nick Larkin, Glenn Maxwell (c), Tom O'Connell, Billy Stanlake, Marcus Stoinis, Adam Zampa, Joe Burns, Sam Rainbird, Joe Clarke, Qais Ahmad (joining after Abu Dhabi T10 League), Sam Elliot, Beau Webster, Haris Rauf (from December 27), Andre Russell (five matches from December 10), Ahmed Daniyal (from December 10)

Fixtures: December 5 – Sydney Sixers (SCG, Sydney – 8:35am GMT), December 10 – Sydney Thunder (MCG, Melbourne – 8:15am), December 12 – Sydney Thunder (Sydney Showground Stadium, Sydney – 8:15am), December 15 – Sydney Sixers (MCG, Melbourne – 8:15am), December 24 – Hobart Hurricanes (Blundstone Arena, Hobart – 4:30am), December 27 – Brisbane Heat (Gabba, Brisbane – 10:05am), December 30 – Perth Scorchers (Optus Stadium, Perth – 8:15am), January 2 – Perth Scorchers (CitiPower Centre, Melbourne – 4:30am), January 3 – Melbourne Renegades (MCG, Melbourne – 8:15am), January 7 – Adelaide Strikers (Adelaide Oval, Adelaide – 8:15am), January 10 – Adelaide Strikers (MCG, Melbourne 3:10am), January 13 – Melbourne Renegades (Marvel Stadium, Melbourne – 8:30am), January 16 – Brisbane Heat (MCG, Melbourne – 8:40am), January 19 – Hobart Hurricanes (MCG, Melbourne – 8:50am)

Possible starting XI: Joe Clarke (wk), Marcus Stoinis, Nick Larkin, Glenn Maxwell, Hilton Cartwright, Andre Russell, Beau Webster, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Qais Ahmad, Adam Zampa, Billy Stanlake

OTHER BIG BASH TEAM GUIDES (links open in external window in app)

Adelaide Strikers

Brisbane Heat

Hobart Hurricanes

Melbourne Renegades

Perth Scorchers

Sydney Sixers

Sydney Thunder

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