SuperCoach BBL study guide: Thunder
ON paper, the Thunder feature one of the hottest rosters in the Big Bash, including international stars Joe Root, Jos Buttler, Usman Khawaja and Pat Cummins.
But in reality, the involvement of all four will be limited due to England and Australian duty.
Headliner Joe Root ($200,000) is a bonafide superstar and will make his Big Bash debut at the Thunder in BBL|08. The current England captain won't be hanging around for too long, but should make his presence felt in the first six weeks. Root's ability with the bat needs no introduction, however the struggling Stars will be the first team Root comes up against, and we're tipping him to go large from the get go. Similarly, fellow countryman and England's Test vice captain, Jos Buttler ($160,200) should strongly be considered. The decorated gloveman is one of the leading T20 players in the world, and like Root, he will only feature in the first six weeks, likely as specialist batsmen as it's been mooted Jay Lenton will keep wicket.
The big bullocking 'G-man', Gurinder Sandhu ($133,800), put together a near perfect debut JLT Cup tournament for Tasmania, producing career-best figures of 7/56 in the grand final against Victoria. By all reports, Sandhu has spent the offseason honing his bowling technique and focusing on his stability and strength and it paid off with no less than 18 wickets throughout the JLT Cup - equal first with Western Australia's Andrew Tye.
THE POINT OF DIFFERENCE
Much of the responsibility will be left to evergreen allrounder, Shane Watson ($166,700) ahead of BBL|08, who in some ways is a forgotten option with the likes of Buttler, Root, Khawaja and Cummins on their roster this season. Despite turning 38 in 2019, the Thunder skipper continues to lead the way, having notched 331 runs last season, the fifth most of any player in BBL|07. Watson is arguably one of the most durable and dependable players in the competition, averaging 62 SuperCoach points a game last year.
THE YOUNG GUNS
Jason Sangha ($44,000) has been dubbed a future Test batsman from a very young age, and captained Australia in the U/19 World Cup last summer. Batting with exceptional hands and seemingly endless time against the quickest of bowlers, he burst on to the radar last year when he scored 133 off 266 balls for the CAXI against a full strength England Test side in a tour match - including Jimmy Anderson, Stuart Broad, Chris Woakes, Mason Crane and Moeen Ali. What isn't in the stats or the common perception about Sangha, though, is his more than adequate leg spinners off the old Bill O'Reilly style run up (you'll know what I mean when you see it). Very good chance to play you would think, and could provide allrounder type stats from the pure batting category.
THE BREAKOUT CONTENDER
Daniel Sams ($127,700) is coming off a strong first BBL season with the Sixers, taking seven wickets in six games, including an impressive best of 4/14. However, Sams didn't get much action with the bat, only facing three balls for the tournament. Expect this to change in 2018/19, with Sams producing a number of big-hitting displays in the JLT Cup for NSW and set to perform a Ben Cutting-like role for the Thunder in the final 10 overs.
THE BURN MAN
One of our country's most loved batsmen, Usman Khawaja ($203,900) is not only expensive, but unlikely to feature for the Thunder at all this season. Whilst on the roster, Khawaja is on the comeback from a knee injury he suffered in Abu Dhabi and is firming to take his place in the Test side that'll welcome India this summer with another Test series against Sri Lanka. If he does play, it will be fleeting, with Australia's busy schedule from December through to March.