The KFC T20 Big Bash League graces the MCG’s hallowed turf for the first time this summer when the Melbourne Stars host the Hobart Hurricanes tonight.
The much-anticipated encounter will showcase some of the biggest names the BBL has to offer.
An unchanged Stars squad will need to be at the peak of their powers to tackle a Hurricanes pack boasting big-name players Ricky Ponting and Travis Birt, but they are ready for the challenge and confident in their ability – particularly given it’s their first home match.
Speaking to media on the eve of the big clash, opening batsman Rob Quiney said the Stars were in a good position to tackle one of the heavily fancied teams of the competition.
“Last year we travelled to Hobart and got the win. We’re looking forward to it, playing this time on our home turf and hopefully going two up on the Hurricanes.”
“It’s a very important game they’re a very strong outfit.”
Gun batsman Luke Wright was one player to shine in last year’s blockbuster at Blundstone Arena knocking a record ton. He looms as the danger man with a half-century (53) and unbeaten 23 to his name so far in BBL|02 and could explode at the MCG.
When asked of the rained out Perth match and the prospect of a wet match again in Melbourne, Quiney said the conditions posed no concerns for the Stars: “We seem to play well in rain-affected games. If we can keep that type of form going we should be right.”
“We can only control the controllable, if there's rain about and we get washed out, there's nothing we can do except play a shortened game or, worse case, move onto the next game. T20 is all about being adaptable and being prepared for anything.”
Quiney dismissed speculation Stars captain Shane Warne was in doubt for the match with well-publicised hamstring issues, saying he was ready to lead his chargers.
“He has bounced back fine. It was a light session today but he said he pulled up good. He's spoken with the physio and said he was right to go. His fitness is as good as it ever is.”
The Hurricanes’ strike batsman Owais Shah was asked about the inclusion of Ponting and what it meant to the team’s structure:
“He’s one of the best batters to play the game and we’re all excited to have him. The reason he’s been so good is because he adapts to all different forms of the game and has done so over the many years of his great career from test to one day to T20.”
“We’re looking forward to having his energy around the group. Obviously his batting and his amazing fielding, even at his age he moves around with such ease. He’s a great cricketer and we’re lucky to have him.
“His energy, his work ethic is amazing. He is the ultimate professional.”
The Englishman told of his track record against Warne: “He’s a class act and he’s one of the best cricketers ever to play the game. We have enormous respect for him.
“Over the years he has generally got the better of me. I like to think I’ve played some good shots against him. I guess we’ll see again on the night, if he’s bowling well we’ll just respect him and see how we go.
Shane Warne (c), Jackson Bird, James Faulkner, Peter Handscomb, Scott Henry, Brad Hodge, David Hussey, Clinton McKay, Lasith Malinga, Glenn Maxwell, Rob Quiney, Cameron White, Luke Wright.
George Bailey (c), Tim Paine (vc), Doug Bollinger, Travis Birt, Xavier Doherty, Evan Gulbis, Michael Hogan, Jason Krejza, Ben Laughlin, Ricky Ponting, Owais Shah, Scott Styris.