Big names, new rules and spectators will all be in attendance when the latest season of the Big Bash begins in Australia on Thursday.
Twelve English stars are taking part, including top-ranked Twenty20 batsman Dawid Malan and World Cup winner Jason Roy, plus internationals like Glenn Maxwell, Rashid Khan and Jason Holder.
The T20 tournament has already caught the headlines by announcing new rules this year and now it is over to the cricket to do the same.
The tournament begins on Thursday and runs until the beginning of February. Here’s what you can expect this year.
Which England players are involved?
Malan and Roy are the headline names on a bumper list of English players in this year’s Big Bash, which also includes exiled England batsman Alex Hales, Sam Billings and James Vince.
Like Malan, England and Somerset all-rounder Lewis Gregory, Essex batsman Dan Lawrence, Nottinghamshire batsman Joe Clarke, Surrey all-rounder Will Jacks and Warwickshire spinner Danny Briggs will make their tournament debuts this year. Phil Salt returns to Adelaide Strikers.
The players involved in England’s tour of South Africa – Malan, Roy, Billings and Lancashire’s Liam Livingstone – will not be available until after Christmas because of the quarantine period they must observe once entering Australia.
|Adelaide Strikers||Phil Salt and Danny Briggs|
|Brisbane Heat||Lewis Gregory and Dan Lawrence|
|Hobart Hurricanes||Dawid Malan and Will Jacks|
|Perth Scorchers||Jason Roy, Liam Livingstone and Joe Clarke|
|Sydney Sixers||James Vince|
|Sydney Thunder||Sam Billings and Alex Hales|
Who else should I watch out for?
Australia’s Test players, such as Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins, will miss most of the tournament because of the Test series against India which starts next week, but there will be no shortage of big names.
All-rounder Maxwell will captain a Melbourne Stars team featuring Adam Zampa and Marcus Stoinis while, fitness permitting, Australia white-ball skipper Aaron Finch will lead the Melbourne Renegades.
The overseas stars include West Indies captain Holder, who has joined Sydney Sixers along with his team-mate – and Test Match Special favourite – Carlos Brathwaite, and T20 superstar Rashid, who will once again play for the Adelaide Strikers.
Former South Africa bowler Morne Morkel will play for Brisbane Heat as a local player – he now lives in Australia following his international retirement – and Melbourne Renegades have brought in 15-year-old Afghanistani spinner Noor Ahmad.
Who are the favourites?
Melbourne Stars are the pre-tournament favourites but have never won the title despite often having a star-studded line-up.
As well as a strong Australian contingent they also have highly-rated West Indies batsman Nicholas Pooran for the first six matches.
Sydney Sixers are defending champions but will miss Curran who was their leading wicket-taker last year.
Three-time winners Perth Scorchers are the tournament’s most successful team but have disappointed in the past two seasons. Their bowling attack of Ashton Agar, Andrew Tye, Jhye Richardson and Jason Behrendorff looks strong, however, if they all stay fit.
What about these new rules?
The tournament has already caused a stir by introducing three new rules this year, including ‘X-Factor’ substitutes.
After the first 10 overs, teams can use one of two substitutes to replace a player who is yet to bowl more than one over or bat.
Elsewhere, the usual six-over powerplay will now only be four, with the batting side choosing when to implement a ‘Power Surge’ and take the other two, and there will also be a ‘Bash Boost’ point available.
A point will be awarded to the chasing team if they are ahead of their opponent’s score after 10 overs. If the chasing team is behind their opponent’s score then the fielding team will be awarded the point.
How can I follow it on the BBC?
There will be live commentary of selected matches on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, BBC Sounds and the BBC Sport website and app.
The website will also have regular match reports and live text commentary of the final on 6 February.