The acid test of the understudies in the season's second Melbourne Big Bash League derby got even tougher for the Renegades following the sidelining of wily seamer Nate Rimmington.
Both the Renegades and Stars have been significantly affected by national selection for Saturday night's match at Etihad Stadium. The Stars have lost Glenn Maxwell, James Faulkner and Scott Boland while the Renegades' loss of captain Aaron Finch and Matthew Wade has been compounded by the absence of Rimmington with a groin injury.
Renegades all geared up for second derby
Skipper Cameron White hopes to make it to the finals, with good results in the remaining three games.
Cricket Australia's refusal to release James Pattinson for the match is expected to trigger the inclusion of 24-year-old paceman Cameron Stevenson, who was plucked from Victorian Premier Cricket to make his debut last month. The Stars are expected to add Rob Quiney, Evan Gulbis and Ben Hilfenhaus to fill vacancies left by one-day call-ups.
Besides Stevenson, the Renegades will select wicketkeeper Peter Nevill – he will probably open alongside Chris Gayle – and one of two inexperienced wicketkeeper-batsmen: Aaron Ayre and Ben McDermott.
The merits of West Indies import Gayle playing have been heavily debated in the aftermath of his mid-match interview earlier this week , and subsequent allegations of misconduct.
Acting captain White said the opener was "in pretty good spirits" despite the controversy surrounding his conduct.
"Speaking to him, and looking at his body language, I think he's in a good place. Hopefully what's happened this week won't affect his cricket too much tomorrow night, because . . . that's what he's here to do, to play cricket well. And the fans really enjoy that," White said on Friday.
Gayle's post-match interview overshadowed his pivotal 41 from 15 deliveries in the successful chase away to Hobart on Monday. Replicating that form will be vital for the Renegades given the absence of Finch.
" 'Finchy' is very hard to replace. He's the best T20 player in the world and has made three scores above 50 in the past five hits . . . so it makes whoever's job it is to replace 'Finchy' very difficult," White said. "Having Chris there still keeps the bowlers of the opposition under pressure. He's been threatening to play a really big hand, so hopefully tomorrow is the night he does it."
White said the Renegades were eager to shore up their finals chances with a victory that would leave them a 3-3 with two matches remaining.
White said he expected Stars captain David Hussey would send them in if given the chance, because of their problems in defending totals. "It's the second time around on whatever wicket we play on, so it will be a bit older, might be a bit slower and benefit the team batting first."""'
RENEGADES (from): Cameron White (c), Aaron Ayre, Tom Beaton, Dwayne Bravo, Tom Cooper, Xavier Doherty, Cameron Gannon, Chris Gayle, Nathan Hauritz, Ben McDermott, Peter Nevill, Cameron Stevenson, Chris Tremain.
STARS (from): David Hussey (c), Michael Beer, Jackson Coleman, Seb Gotch, Evan Gulbis, Peter Handscomb, John Hastings, Ben Hilfenhaus, Kevin Pietersen, Rob Quiney, Marcus Stoinis, Daniel Worrall, Luke Wright, Adam Zampa.