Daniel Sams is worth backing for top Big Bash tournament bowler, according to Richard Mann who goes through the pick of the specials.
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Sydney Thunder are my pick in the outright market and it is one of their star batsmen who headlines my staking for this season's specials markets.
Alex Hales comes into this competition with more to prove than most having fallen out of favour with England for off-the-field issues, rather than his performances out in the middle, and with so much motivation to do well on the big stage over the next few months, he has to be backed at 14/1 for top tournament runscorer.
Hales was outstanding when blasting 576 runs in last season's Big Bash, averaging 38.40 in a run of form that saw him finish the competition as the second highest runscorer - only Marcus Stoinis made more runs with the next highest, Josh Philippe, almost 100 runs behind.
The Nottinghamshire star appeared to be searching for his best touch in this summer's Vitality Blast, but Hales still ended the campaign with another winners' medal around his neck and with a T20 World Cup on the horizon, there is no escaping the fact that this is a big tournament for the destructive opening batsman.
Hales' credentials at the highest level need no introduction; this is a player boasting a fine white-ball international record who has played some of England's most memorable limited-overs innings in the last ten years.
Furthermore, the true nature of the surfaces in Australia suit his game down to the ground, as does batting alongside experienced Thunder pair Usman Khawaja and Callum Ferguson.
With Hales' ability never in question, his motivation sure to be at its maximum, and the strong belief that the Thunder will enjoy a deep run in this year's competition, he looks worth a play at anything north of 10/1. The 14/1 currently available is very fair, as does the 7/2 Unibet are offering for Hales to finish in the top three tournament runscorers.
Stoinis is sure to prove popular again, as will the likes of Aaron Finch and D'Arcy Short, but like Hales, this a big year for Chris Lynn who wasn't at his brilliant best last term but still boasts a colossal Big Bash record.
When on song, there are few more dangerous batsmen in this form of the game and having seen his stock fall just a little in the last year or so, he too will be desperate to put his name back in the lights in the coming months.
Lynn will again be able to make use of one of the best batting pitches in Australia at The Gabba, and while the 10/1 (Sky Bet) about him doesn't appeal quite as much as the prices on offer for Hales, it's better than you could have hoped for about him a few years ago and I'm convinced he'll be back on song this season.
Daniel Sams didn't just finish last season as the leading wicket-taker in the Big Bash, his 30 scalps were eight more than his nearest rivals Chris Morris and Tom Curran achieved - neither of whom feature in this year's edition.
Sams' performances caught the eye of many, earning him a deal at this year's IPL, and he returns from that competition with his skill-bet hopefully broadened by the experienced gleaned from playing an important role in Delhi Capitals' late charge to the final.
It isn't just IPL scouts who have noted Sams' qualities, either, with the Thunder quick selected to play a couple of games for Australia in the recent T20I series against India.
Sams is a real limited-overs specialist who can be a handful with the new ball, but whose strengths really lay at the death when batsman are looking to take on this canny left-armer who has plenty of variations in his magic box.
He's favourite in most books to finish the competition as the leading wicket-taker again, but not with Unibet who dangle the carrot at 14/1. It's not just Rudolph who likes a carrot at this time of year and I'm backing Sams to go back-to-back.
As is the case with the top batsman market, I was very keen to add to a second string to my bow here with Brisbane Heat's Mitch Swepson at 33/1.
Wrist spin has proven to be such a valuable weapon in this form of the game and Swepson was one of the Heat's stand-out performers last term, improving throughout and carrying that form over to red-ball cricket.
However, he seems likely to spend plenty of time in and around the Australia Test squad in the next few weeks and the prospect of him missing Big Bash matches is enough to put me off. He'll be a big loss to a weak Heat bowling attack, too.
Finally, I won't be adding Joe Clarke to any staking plans but will be fascinated to see how the Englishman gets on for Perth Scorchers in their first few matches.
Clarke has initially been signed to provide cover for Jason Roy, whose international commitments mean he won't be ready to play for the Scorchers until nearer the New Year, but I just wonder if the former might be asked to stay on should he begin the tournament well.
Scorchers head coach Adam Voges has already confirmed that Clarke will open the batting until Roy joins up with the squad and it is worth remembering just how vital a role he played in driving Nottinghamshire to another Blast title last summer.
Clarke's 371 runs came at a whopping strike-rate of 175.00 and with the true nature of the pitches in Perth sure to suit his classical style, so too batting at the top of the order, I wouldn't be surprised were Clarke to be kept on for the duration of the season.
Joining Roy after international commitments have finished is Liam Livingstone, with Kiwi Colin Munro making up the Scorchers overseas contingent, but Voges might soon realise that Clarke and Roy are the pick of that crop and want to see the pair opening the batting together.
It's just a theory that, in all probability, won't play out, but Clarke is 33/1 in a place (Unibet) to finish the season as top Scorchers runscorer and should he start well enough to persuade Voges to keep him on, he'll have a handy head start on the likes of Roy and Livingstone.
I've raided my copper jar for a small interest, but with confirmation that he will be opening the batting, will be certainly keeping Clarke on side when the Scorchers kick off their campaign against Melbourne Renegades on Saturday.
Posted at 1530 GMT on 09/12/20
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