In what was a fairly low-scoring affair in last season's BBL, The Hurricanes were the only side and perhaps more significantly provided the only venues to consistently deliver some big-hitting action. As early pacesetters in the 2018/19 season, The Hurricanes will be disappointed not to have at the very least reached the final of BBL 08 and they will be hoping to build on the consistency of the last couple of years to finally secure their first title this time around.
Their batting last season was built on the explosive power of D'arcy Short and Matthew Wade who finished as the tournament's top 2 run-scorers. Last year both men were available for the entire tournament, however, this year it looks more than likely that at least 1 of them will be involved with Australia at some point - Wade is the current Test keeper and Short may yet be involved in the short form side. If that's the case then it will be a question of who can step up to fill the giant void that either of those 2 will leave.
Wade and Short contributed over half of the Hurricanes runs in BBL 08
Given the above, it's perhaps not surprising that the Hurricanes have signed South African batsman David Miller as a replacement for Jofra Archer whose England commitments mean that he is unavailable for this year's BBL. Miller will certainly enjoy the faster pitches and shorter boundaries at the Blundstone Arena and York Park and alongside stalwarts George Bailey and Ben McDermott, his success will define whether the Tasmanian based franchise can have another successful season.
While the loss of Archer certainly takes some pace out of the attack, The Hurricanes still have Riley Meredith to call upon. The 23-year-old can touch 150kmph and had an impressive BBL 08 finishing with 16 wickets. Despite having played only a handful of first-class matches, he was selected to play for Australia A last month against the touring Pakistanis suggesting that the Aussies have high hopes of developing him into yet another cannon in their already impressive armoury. The Hurricanes have also added former Australian international Scot Boland to their squad who joins from the Melbourne Stars. His arrival to play alongside Meredith and the left-arm change-ups of James Faulkner means that the Hurricanes have a decent looking pace attack that can take wickets throughout the 20 overs.
Meredith claims 5 wickets including that of Steve Smith who actually missed a ball on his pads! A few English bowlers will struggle to believe their eyes with that one...
The lack of a match-winning slow bowler is arguably the one key position that has cost the Hurricanes over the last couple of years so it's no surprise that they have acted to fill that obvious gap in their bowling options by bringing in Afghan wrist-spinner Qais Ahmad. Ahmad actually played a handful of games for the Hurricanes last year and impressed with a strike rate of just 10! If he can continue to be an effective wicket-taking option throughout the middle overs then it's hard to imagine that the Hurricanes won't be there or thereabouts again this year. Ahmad replaces veteran Johan Botha who following a largely ineffective campaign last year has retired from cricket.
Botha (centre) and Rose (right) both struggled to make an impact in BBL last year. In fact, The Hurricanes leading spinner in terms of wickets taken was D'Arcy Short with his part-time chinamen (10 wickets)
In regards to young talent that might make an impact for the Hurricanes this year then Caleb Jewell, a left-handed opening bat could be one to watch especially with Mathew Wade in New Zealand for the opening part of the tournament. Jewell showed some promise in his debut season last year hitting 1 fifty in his 7 innings and he went on to score his maiden List A century in the early part of this Australian summer for Tasmania against South Australia. While his form fell away towards the back end of the Marsh Cup he finished with a decent average of 35 from his first full season at that level and will hope to use this year's Big Bash to enhance his reputation among the young hopefuls looking to push for higher honours.