No Warner, No Clarke, No worries

This past week two of the Sydney Thunder’s biggest names declared themselves unavailable for the fourth edition of the Big Bash League.

David Warner followed the lead of his national captain, Michael Clarke, with the announcement that he wouldn’t be turning out in lime green this summer choosing to focus on Australian Test and ODI duties – as well as giving him more family time between matches.

On the surface losing names Warner and Clarke might sound terrible for a team that has had just one victory in two seasons, but their decision to step away won’t really hurt the western Sydney team at all.

Across three seasons of the Big Bash League Warner, while alternating between the two Sydney sides, has played just 3 matches compiling one century, one fifty and a duck.

While Clarke has played exactly zero Big Bash League matches, retired from international T20 2010, and hasn’t played any T20 cricket for more than two years.

With that in mind, the Thunder aren’t losing anything, instead they are gaining salary cap space that can be used on players who will actually be available to play for the them.

So how do you rebuild a team with the view of lifting it off the bottom of the points table – you lock in key players from the previous season for some general continuity and surround them with some older, wiser heads.

Legendary South African all-rounder Jacques Kallis joins last year’s coup signing Mike Hussey, and he should be available for at least 7 of the Thunder’s games.

Last year’s coach, Chandika Hathurusingha, has left to take up the Bangladesh head coaching role, he’s been replaced by South African Paddy Upton, who currently coaches the IPL’s Rajasthan Royals.

Batsmen Cameron Borgas, Daniel Hughes, and Kurtis Patterson are all contracted for the coming season, as are bowlers Dirk Nannes and Chris Tremain.

The Thunder will surely be keen to re-sign key pieces like Gurinder Sandhu, Ryan Carters, and in-particular Usman Khawaja, who is their leading run scorer and was averaging 50+ last year before injury cut his BBL:03 campaign short.

When Nathan Hauritz reappeared on Twitter this week his profile stated that he would be “dabbling in a bit of cricket with the Sydney Thunder”.

While there has been no official announcement from either side, Hauritz has now changed his profile to remove the Thunder reference, so read into that what you will.

The addition of someone like Hauritz, even if he was wicketless in his three matches for the Brisbane Heat last year, is needed for the Thunder’s lineup as they’ve been without a specialist spin option since they lost Adam Zampa to the Adelaide Strikers last year.

Pat Cummins has also been rumoured as a possible recruit for the Thunder after playing a handful of matches for the Perth Scorchers last year – he’d make a handy new ball pairing with Sandhu.

Given that England will be out here again this summer for an ODI tri-series ahead of the World Cup, that possibly gives the Thunder a few options when looking for their second international player.

All-rounder Ben Stokes, one of the only shining lights for England in last summer’s Ashes, would be a handy addition to the Thunder lineup.

England’s tour of Sri Lanka wraps up on December 16, five days before the Thunder’s opening match. Stokes – or any other member of the England side – would then potentially be available for the first 6 of the Thunder’s matches before international commitments intervene.

Thunder stalwarts Scott Coyte and Jason Floros could both be back – while Coyte only played the one game last year, and neither are game-breaking players, they are both useful players to have in the squad.

Australian Under 19 representative, Jake Doran, was in the squad last year but didn’t play a game. He’s been signed to a NSW contract for the upcoming domestic season, and would give the Thunder a back-up for Ryan Carters behind the stumps.

That leaves just two spots left on the Thunder’s 18-man list. Do you pick an unknown rookie like Patrick Pisel who has a NSW rookie contract this season, or try and lure more established names like Ben Rohrer or Michael Klinger away from their current sides.

If there was a way to could get guys like Rohrer and Klinger that is the route I would take – especially with the presumed money saved by not having Warner and Clarke on the books.

What would you do?

With the right signings the Thunder should be able to field a significantly better team than they have over the last couple of years, I doubt they’ll instantly hit “contender” status, but they should at least move themselves out of favouritism for another wooden spoon.

My fantasy Sydney Thunder Squad

  • 01 – BT – Michael Klinger * (from Adelaide Strikers)
  • 02 – AR – Jacques Kallis (South Africa)
  • 03 – BT – Mike Hussey
  • 04 – BT – Usman Khawaja *
  • 05 – BT – Ben Rohrer * (from Melbourne Renegades)
  • 06 – AR – Ben Stokes * (England)
  • 07 – WK – Ryan Carters *
  • 08 – BW – Nathan Hauritz * (from Brisbane Heat)
  • 09 – BW – Pat Cummins * (from Perth Scorchers)
  • 10 – BW – Gurinder Sandhu *
  • 11 – BW – Dirk Nannes
  • 12 – BT – Cameron Borgas
  • 13 – BT – Daniel Hughes
  • 14 – BT – Kurtis Patterson
  • 15 – WK – Jake Doran *
  • 16 – AR – Scott Coyte *
  • 17 – AR – Jason Floros *
  • 18 – BW – Chris Tremain

* – fantasy, rumoured, or as yet unsigned