Seventh season of Australian Big Bash League set for greater heights

BBL 07 will have 43 fixtures, eight more than the number of matches that was played including the final in the first six seasons of this Twenty20 league competition.

Perth Scorchers, which is the most successful BBL team with three titles, is a favourite to win the seventh edition of the tournament.

Australia's high-octane Big Bash League (BBL) launches its seventh season on Tuesday with the whiz-bang Twenty20 cricket league looking to build on attendance and television ratings successes, with Perth Scorchers favourites to win another crown.

More than one million people went to BBL matches last season with average crowds topping 30,000. And, while it trails the Indian Premier League (IPL) in overall attendance and financial clout, officials claim it was the fifth-biggest league in the world last season in terms of people turning up to watch.

Big Bash head Kim McConnie said Cricket Australia had even higher expectations for the fast-paced, family-friendly competition that sold out 35 matches last year.

Read: Afghanistan wonderkid Rashid Khan to feature in BBL 07

There will be eight more fixtures, up to 43, and four new venues around the country.

"We believe this is going to be one of the most exciting BBL seasons to date," said McConnie, just two months into her job as the new BBL chief.

"Sport is entertainment. So what we're seeing, even from a cricket purist who loves to watch the Big Bash because they love the competition, they also like the entertainment and the fact they can bring their kids. They want to be entertained and make sure they're getting more for their dollar."

In glitzy style, BBL has led the way with LED stumps and bails flashing on impact. They also have helmet cameras on batsmen and in recent seasons players have worn microphones to talk to commentators during play.

Former England captain Kevin Pietersen got himself into trouble last season when he was charged and fined for criticising an umpire's decision while wearing a microphone on-field.

Explosive hitters

Reigning champion Perth Scorchers is a hot favourite for winning a fourth crown, while Melbourne Stars, featuring polarising batsman Pietersen, chases its elusive first title after several years of near misses.

The Scorchers has maintained the bulk of its squad from last year's triumphant season and is likely to again contend for glory with coach Justin Langer again at the helm and English pacer David Willey resigned as the only overseas import.

Brisbane Heat, which finished second in the regular competition last season, possesses two explosive hitters with local Chris Lynn, who leads the BBL's six tally with 94, and retired New Zealand star Brendon McCullum.

The Sydney Sixers, crushed by the Scorchers in last season's final, again has big-hitting Englishman Jason Roy as its overseas player along with Test bowlers Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon.

Skipper Aaron Finch leads the under-performing Melbourne Renegades, which has boom-hitting West Indian Kieran Pollard on its books. Pollard will miss the first seven matches of the tournament due to international commitments and Afghanistan off-spinner Mohammad Nabi will fill his place.

Sydney Thunder has former Australian all-rounder Shane Watson backing up for another season aged 36, while overseas import Jos Buttler has the three quickest ODI centuries for England, including a 46-ball effort against Pakistan. The Thunder only has Buttler's services for the opening six matches before he leaves for international duty.

The other two franchises in the eight-team BBL are the Hobart Hurricanes and Adelaide Strikers. The final takes place on February 4.

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