Australia’s biggest T20 competition, the Big Bash League (BBL) is all set to get underway on Thursday, December 10, as defending champions Sydney Sixers take on Hobart Hurricanes at the Blundstone Arena in Hobart.

Though BBL was marred by the global pandemic, which saw several international stars pulling out of this edition, the tournament still has some of the best T20 names ready to play some swashbuckling cricket for the next two months. The league’s introduction of three new rules - the Power Surge, X-Factor and Bash Boost -  will further ensure uncertainty to make the shortest format even more exciting.

With the 2021 ICC Men's T20 World Cup scheduled to take place in a few months’ time BBL will also be a great opportunity for players to impress their selectors, with numerous T20 squads still incomplete and spots up for grabs.

Here are my top five players to watch out for during BBL 2020-21:

Glenn Maxwell - Melbourne Stars

After a sensational white-ball series against India, Melbourne Stars skipper Glenn Maxwell has once again shown why every T20 franchise wants him in their playing XI. ‘The Big Show’ exhibited his T20 acumen yet again, proving himself to be a match-winner against any opposition on his day. Maxwell is undoubtedly one of the biggest names in BBL and the fortune of Melbourne Stars will largely depend on his form. Maxwell has amassed 1826 runs in 69 BBL innings at a strike rate of 150.28 so far, along with an average of 32.60. Interestingly, the 32-year-old has averaged between 33 and 39 in the last five seasons with a strike rate of 142 since the inaugural edition of the league. Maxwell can also chip in some overs with the ball and has a knack of getting crucial breakthroughs.

Dawid Malan - Hobart Hurricanes

World's top-ranked T20 international batsman Dawid Malan has joined Hobart Hurricanes for the tenth edition of BBL this season. The 33-year-old Englishman has the ability to score hundreds in the shortest format of the game. In the 19 T20Is that Malan has played so far, he has a staggering average of 53.43, accumulating 855 runs with nine fifties and one hundred to his name. The southpaw recently created history by attaining the highest-ever rating points for batsmen in the ICC Men’s T20I Player Rankings. I expect him to flourish in BBL this season and maybe become one of the highest run-getters in the league as well.

Joshua Phillipe - Sydney Sixers

Sydney Sixers wicket-keeper batsman Joshua Phillipe is one of the most exciting upcoming talents in world cricket at the moment. Phillipe, who had made his Indian T20 League debut this year playing for Bangalore, will look to use that experience in the Big Bash as well. The 23-year-old helped the Sydney Sixers secure the BBL 2019-20 title last season, amassing 487 runs. Barring that, Phillipe had also claimed seven catches and four stumpings from behind the stumps. Since leaving Perth Scorchers in 2018, Philippe has amassed 791 runs at a strike rate of just under 140, and I feel the youngster will be at his best this season as well.

Rashid Khan - Adelaide Strikers

Afghanistan leg-spinner Rashid Khan has been one of the Most Valuable Players (MVP) in BBL. In the last three seasons, the 22-year-old has picked up 56 wickets in just 40 matches at an average of 17.66 while playing for the Strikers. His economy rate of  6.36 is the best in the league. The leg-spinner has also claimed 89 wickets in 48 T20I at an average of 14.81 and in my opinion, Rashid Khan is the best T20 spinner in the world right now and his great demand in the English T20 Blast, the Caribbean Premier League (CPL), in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) as well as the Indian T20 League hints at the enormous talent he is.  

Chris Lynn - Brisbane Heat

Brisbane Heat’s swashbuckling batsman Chris Lynn is the highest run-getter in the Big Bash League (BBL), accumulating 2332 runs in 75 matches at a strike rate of 150.35 and has an average of 37.61. The 30-year-old, who has been part of several T20 franchises across the globe, will need a productive BBL season this time if he plans to make the national squad ahead of the T20 World Cup. Lynn can certainly expect strong competition from his compatriots D’Arcy Short and Joshua Phillipe, who will also look to stay in contention for the Australia T20 openers slots for the upcoming T20 series and the 2021 ICC T20 World Cup. While Lynn had a quiet Indian T20 League campaign, his enormous experience in the shortest format makes him a lethal batsman in any tournament.

Feature image courtesy: Twitter / @BBL