BBL set for ratings-boost with de Villiers, Steyn & Miller all on board for 2019-20 season
The Big Bash League could potentially be looking at its highest broadcast ratings ever in Australia thanks to a number of superstar-signings this season. Joining the likes of England’s James Vince, Alex Hales and Chris Jordan as marquee International signings in this season’s competition, Australia’s recruitment of South African players in BBL09 has been somewhat-amazing with AB de Villiers, Dale Steyn and just recently David Miller all confirmed recruits for Australia’s domestic T20 tournament. Proteas all-rounder Chris Morris will also be joining the BBL in 2019/20 as well as the return of Ashes-hero Steve Smith who is set to reunite with the Sydney Sixers.
A handful of teams in this season’s BBL have landed a big fish or two, most of them in the form of a South African X factor. The Brisbane Heat may have just hit the jackpot with the prize recruit of Mr 360 himself, AB de Villiers. Still relatively fresh after retiring from International cricket in 2018, the South African batting-maestro has now turned to domestic T20 comps all around the world with plenty of freedom to go about his business. The 35-year-old is still miles away from his expiry date when it comes to cricket, his recent performances in the Vitality Blast is a clear indication of that. The Heat will attain de Villiers services for the last six games of the tournament plus finals if they happen to qualify, AB’s ability to force momentum in the innings when he sets himself is one of the exact reasons why Brisbane were desperate to sign him.
Unlike his former South African teammate-de Villiers, speed machine Dale Steyn hasn’t fully retired from International cricket just yet but has called time on his test career. Steyn has now turned his attention to limited-overs cricket, an area of the game that won’t take a huge toll on his body compared to the five-day format. South Africa’s most experienced fast bowler has tasted plenty of success in this format, 241 wickets in 207 games is a record that reflects why Steyn is a required player in tournaments such as the BBL. leading up to the tournament in Australia, the 36-year-old veteran has been in terrific form for the Cape Town Blitz in the Mzansi Super League, following up a successful stint for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL back in April. Steyn will play the first six games of the tournament for the Melbourne Stars before departing, that’s more than enough time for the fiery-quick to make his mark on the BBL.
The last of the trio to put pen to paper on a BBL contract for this season is David Miller, a brute-hitter that isn’t afraid to give the ball a decent pummeling. A specialist middle-order batsman for South Africa in limited-overs cricket, Miller is the ideal inclusion for the Hobart Hurricanes this season with Matthew Wade unlikely to be available for a period if selected for Australia’s test side against New Zealand. With plenty of experience to his name, Miller could play a vital role alongside George Bailey either at the top or in the middle order (depending on Wade’s availability). D’Arcy Short is always going to produce fireworks at the top of the order, something that Miller will be hoping to do when he’s given the importunity. It has to be said that the 30-year-old lacks consistency, however he’s not the kind of player who will continuously-struggle, more so produce the occasional big score surrounded by 20’s & 30’s.
Zak Varik is an Australian columnist/writer who specializes in the sports category cricket. With over four years of experience covering all sorts of cricket tournaments around the world, Zak has gained extensive knowledge in International cricket as well as domestic.
“I’ve loved watching cricket since I was about 7 years old, my childhood hero was none other than Andrew “Roy” Symonds who probably enhanced my love of the game through the years”.
Zak is now an established writer for FCN (Fantasy Cricket News) and has also previously represented other Blogs during his time as a writer.