Australia’s best likely available for BBL finals

Big Bash League clubs are likely to be able to call on all of their Australian representative players during the finals with Australia’s Twenty20 squad pencilled in to depart for India on the day after the BBL decider.

Player availability is an ongoing issue for BBL clubs given the tournament overlaps with much of Australia’s home summer. Things reached a head last season when Australia played a Twenty20 international on the same weekend as the BBL semis and final.

D’Arcy Short’s Hobart Hurricanes lead the BBL ladder.Credit:AAP

That isn’t an issue this season with Australia’s home international schedule finishing with the end of the second Test against Sri Lanka on February 5, well before the BBL semi-finals scheduled for February 14 and 15.

The BBL final is booked for Sunday, February 17 – seven days before Australia’s first T20 international at Bengalaru kicks off the white-ball tour of India.

While Cricket Australia has not confirmed the squad’s departure date, it’s understood to be marked down for February 18, the day after the BBL final.

That should in theory mean the BBL finalists will be able to keep their best Australian players until the end of the tournament. Having the likes of D’Arcy Short (Hobart Hurricanes), Chris Lynn (Brisbane Heat), Aaron Finch (Melbourne Renegades), Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis (Melbourne Stars) and Alex Carey and Billy Stanlake (Adelaide Strikers) available for the pointy end of the season will be a boost for the BBL.

BBL and Australian heavy hitter Chris Lynn.Credit:AAP

The expanded competition has faced criticism this summer amid plateauing crowds and television audiences, as well as general queries over the quality of the competition, particularly in the absence of marquee international names.

This is the first summer in which the BBL is being played as a full home-and-away season, with CA trying to keep cricket in the spotlight during February, territory which has recently been the subject of encroachment from the football codes.

The BBL has faced competition for the best overseas players from other T20 tournaments, including the Bangladesh Premier League, while the duration of the tournament has also been identified as an issue given the limited opportunities for prospective Test players to play red-ball cricket over the peak of summer.

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