The Adelaide Strikers have dominated discussions during the first contracting period for BBL|04, which closes tomorrow. With ten players so far confirmed for next season, we chat with Adelaide Strikers coach Darren Berry about his latest recruits, the squad he has built so far and what Adelaide Strikers fans should expect for BBL|04.
Well coach, the Adelaide Strikers have made a number of big name additions to their squad this season. You surprised everyone with the recruitment of Craig Simmons, what do you think he will bring to the team?
We are really excited to sign Craig Simmons. Obviously he scored two centuries last season in BBL|03 and was the only player to do so. He hit more sixes than anyone else in the competition, so it was a huge coup for us to lure him across from Perth on a long term deal. We know that with him, we have fire power at the top.
Your old mate Brad Hodge joins the side as both a player and an assistant coach. What will it mean to have a player of his experience in the side?
Don’t refer to him as being old; he gets a bit touchy about that. But that’s why we got him, because his experienced head will be fantastic on and off the field. He is certainly looking to develop his coaching and that was a major reason for him to come across, so he will be doing a lot of work with our young group, not just with batting but with the whole kit and caboodle. His record speaks for itself, he is class player and is a really good communicator who keeps a real calmness in the group which I think is important in Twenty20. I think he is a great addition for the next two years with the Adelaide Strikers.
And your third big recruit - you have added real fire power to your bowling line up with Ben Laughlin. Why did you target him?
To be honest, for the last couple of years, he has been on our radar because we feel he and Kane Richardson are probably the two finishing or death bowlers in the competition. His ability to jam the ball at the base of the stump is a skill not many players have these days and he is one of the best, probably in the world at it. In the last few years he has been the leading wicket taker down in Hobart and we were delighted to secure his services for the next two years.
So we have picked up a couple of experienced players in Laughlin and Hodge and an exciting left-fielder in Simmons who we hope can light up the Adelaide Oval.
It must be exciting to have secured home-grown talent Kane Richardson for the next three years?
That was probably just as important to me, to be honest. I’m a big fan of Kane and I think he can really go to the highest level with his cricket. To have him for the Adelaide Strikers and combine with Ben Laughlin or Michael Neser, who was our player of the year last year, gives us really good bowling options and we still have a couple of local talents to sign in the coming weeks.
You have returners Tim Ludeman and Phil Hughes, who bring some great experience to the side.
Look, Hughesy had a down year last year, but he is a class act and I hope he comes back re-invigorated. To be honest, I hope he’s not here because I hope he is playing for Australia, that would be ideal. But if he’s not playing for Australia, we will welcome him into the Adelaide Strikers.
Probably at times last year, we batted him out of position and a couple of times we batted him down at three, but I think we will settle with him at the top of the order and I think Hughes and Simmons could be a pretty powerful combination at the top.
Tim Ludeman is a bit of a favourite of mine. The boys reckon he is the teacher’s pet because he is a wicket-keeper and it’s true, because I have a close association with him and we work regularly together. I think he’s got wonderful hands and I’ve said it before and I will say it again, I think he is as good a wicket-keeper as anyone going around so I’m delighted he will be behind the stumps for the Adelaide Strikers again. We’ve secured his services for another two seasons, he is a class act behind the stumps and we look forward to seeing him score some big runs, maybe even at the top of the order.
A number of players with a lot of potential who are yet to really make their mark – Jono Dean and Trent Lawford, as well as young leggie Adam Zampa.
Absolutely; three exciting players. Trent Lawford is capable of hitting the ball a long, long way - he scored a double century in Grade cricket last year. He is an enormous hitter and is a big man. He is sort of like an unearthed Kieron Pollard type of player and we all know the type of impression Kieron Pollard made. The other thing he does is he bowls a very heavy ball and he’s quite an aggressive strong fast bowler so he is a good all round package.
Jono Dean from Canberra got a couple of opportunities last year. He didn’t get any big scores, but what he did do which I really liked was he committed to our game plan, he played aggressively and he showed a couple of really good signs, particularly over in Perth. He was prepared to back himself and that’s how I want him to play – to take the opposition on from ball one. He is a clean striker of the ball and he is really someone who could make a statement in the KFC Big Bash League this year.
The other one is Adam Zampa who is our young leg spinner here in South Australia. He had a couple of opportunities last year and I’m certainly hoping he will make a big impression this year alongside Johan Botha, who we hope will sign back on board in the coming weeks. Botha, Zampa and maybe another spinner would make a great trio of spinners.
The Adelaide Strikers are yet to announce their imports for next season. How are those signings progressing?
Well I’ve already mentioned a few names there. It is no secret we’ve been in discussions with Pollard and we certainly hope that can be secured. Johan Botha arrives back from South Africa this week where he has been with his family, so once he is back in Adelaide we will sit down and talk. And we will also continue to look at other options.
It is exciting that the Adelaide Strikers will host the first match of the season at the amazing Adelaide Oval against the Melbourne Stars and start their season with a big win?
December 18, Adelaide Strikers fans! Put it in your diary now, lock it in! We want to have a sea of blue and absolutely no green – we don’t want to give them a welcome, we want to give them a hiding on the first match of the KFC Big Bash League this season! It’s fantastic and a great honour that Adelaide Oval has been given the first match to launch BBL|04 and we couldn’t ask for a bigger clash that the Adelaide Strikers versus the Melbourne Stars. I know it is a few months away yet, but that’s one I’ve highlighted in my diary.
After a blockbuster game last season, the Adelaide Strikers have again secured the New Year’s Eve match against the Hobart Hurricanes.
I certainly hope that can happen regularly now. Last year, we packed the house out on New Year’s Eve. It was a great atmosphere and we had a wonderful victory over Perth. This year we take on the Hobart Hurricanes and there will be a bit of spite in that match given a couple of transitions - Alex Hales was with us and he is now with Hobart, and Ben Laughlin has moved to Adelaide. That is what it’s like in the KFC Big Bash League; players are prepared to move for opportunities. It is going to be a great clash and I can’t encourage our fans enough to come. It is a family occasion, there will be fireworks, there will be entertainment and, most importantly, the Adelaide Strikers putting on a show out in the middle.