Melbourne Renegades captain Nic Maddinson has declared himself ready to go for his club’s KFC BBL|13 opener after almost a year on the sidelines following a serious knee injury.
Maddinson has been working his way back to full fitness over the past few weeks, appearing for club side St Kilda last weekend and in T20 practice matches during the week, having not played at the top level since rupturing his ACL while fielding during the Renegades New Year’s Day clash with Perth Scorchers.
The 31-year-old left-hander opened the batting in a practice match against crosstown rivals Melbourne Stars on Sunday and also made 66 against a Brisbane Heat XI on Thursday, and is eager to get back out there for their season opener against the Sixers in Sydney on Friday night.
“It’s been a long, long winter,” Maddinson said.
“During the off-season, when everyone’s around, it feels like you’re still part of the group and pretty connected. But once everyone’s playing again (from the start of the domestic season) and you’re by yourself a lot, there’s definitely some challenges.
“It was a bit of a relief to get a few away (in a practice match against the Heat).
“Being out for so long you can feel like you’re going really well in the nets at training but until you score some runs in a match, I guess you don’t have that confidence.
“It’s nice to be back out there. (The knee) is in a pretty good space at the moment so hopefully I can get through the year unscathed and play a bit more cricket the next 12 months.”
Having watched on post-surgery last January as the Renegades surged into the BBL|12 finals after being anchored to the bottom of the table for the previous three seasons, Maddinson believes the club is in an even stronger position to push for some silverware this summer.
The club has added even more experience for BBL|13, signing Australian spinners Adam Zampa and Nathan Lyon alongside former Test quick Peter Siddle and draft picks Quinton de Kock and Mujeeb Ur Rahman.
The ‘Gades completed their 18-player list for the tournament on Sunday with the signature of in-form Victorian seamer Fergus O’Neill, who claimed a career-best match haul of 10 wickets in last week’s Marsh Sheffield Shield win over South Australia.
Meanwhile, the Renegades have confirmed star draft pick Quinton de Kock will not feature in their opening two matches as he completes a stint in a T10 league in Abu Dhabi.
The Renegades were aware of the South African’s commitments when drafting him with their first-round selection, and expect him to return for their first match at Marvel Stadium against the Perth Scorchers on December 21.
Melbourne Renegades BBL|13 squad: Joe Clarke (England), Quinton de Kock (South Africa), Harry Dixon, Aaron Finch, Jake Fraser-McGurk, Mackenzie Harvey, Ruwantha Kellapotha, Nathan Lyon, Nic Maddinson (c), Shaun Marsh, Fergus O’Neill, Kane Richardson, Tom Rogers, Peter Siddle, Will Sutherland, Mujeeb Ur Rahman (Afghanistan), Jon Wells, Adam Zampa
“If you look at our list, I’d say it’s probably our best chance to push for a title of the last few years,” Maddinson said.
“We had a pretty young group a couple of years ago when we were finishing down the bottom, but we’ve been able to give some games to those guys and I think the younger guys will really complement the experience that we’ve got.
“They’re there to contribute to a game, but you’re not relying on the (younger players) to win you a match and hopefully the older guys step up and can do that.”
O’Neill was one of the Renegades Academy’s top performers during their preseason trip to Darwin with four wickets from four matches at an economy of 5.92 during the Top End T20 tournament, and has also been one of Victoria’s best performers across both the Sheffield Shield and Marsh Cup this season with 29 wickets from 10 matches across both formats.
“T20 cricket, it’s a new set of skills and he (O’Neill) possesses all of them,” Maddinson said.
“It will be a great learning experience as well bowling to Marsh, Finch, de Kock, Joe Clarke at training, that can fast track your development so looking forward to seeing how he goes throughout the season.”
O’Neill added: “I’m very excited to work with some of those guys and I bumped into Ian Bell, along with the international talent, it’s going to be great to be exposed to so I’m looking forward to further developing my skill in the Big Bash.
“Hopefully I can use what I’ve done in the other formats to better my T20 skills.”
Maddinson also revealed Victoria’s Sheffield Shield captain Will Sutherland had been elevated to the Renegades vice-captaincy, taking over from former Australia white-ball skipper Aaron Finch for BBL|13.
The Sixers also completed their 18-player list for BBL|13 on Sunday with the signing of O’Neill’s Victorian teammate Mitch Perry who’s only T20 match was for the Renegades against the Sydney Thunder in BBL|10.
The right-armer has 25 wickets from his eight first-class matches for Victoria and Australia A so far this summer.
“For a young player like Mitch to have the opportunity to be around and learn from some of the most experienced players and coaches in the world will benefit him hugely,” said Rachael Haynes, Head of Sydney Sixers.
“We see Jackson Bird as being someone who is a great mentor to younger players and Mitch as someone that could benefit immensely from working with him.”
Sydney Sixers BBL|13 squad: Sean Abbott, Jackson Bird, Tom Curran (England), Joel Davies, Ben Dwarshuis, Jack Edwards, Moises Henriques, Daniel Hughes, Hayden Kerr, Todd Murphy, Izharulhaq Naveed (Afghanistan), Steve O’Keefe, Kurtis Patterson, Mitch Perry, Josh Philippe, Jordan Silk, Steve Smith, James Vince (England)
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