WHEN Aaron Finch took to Shane Warne last week at Etihad Stadium, it must have been tempting for some to grant the Big Bash League's marquee player leeway for a limited pre-season campaign.
After all, the in-form Renegades batsman is halfway through a domestic season that began in late September, whereas Warne, at 43 and six years out of the international game, had two scratch games before being slogged for 0-41 in two overs.
But the short, sharp nature of the league's season ensures teams cannot afford concessions to older stars or retired internationals, and means coaches have become adept at the global managing of players with little recent cricket.
''You can't cram all of the skills and training into the four days before the first game, it doesn't quite work. You need to have some things in place in advance,'' Renegades coach Simon Helmot said.
Readying players who are no longer part of Australia's domestic scene for the Big Bash League requires international co-ordination and tailored fitness programs.
The Melbourne Stars had Warne maintaining his fitness in his home gym and Brad Hodge playing Premier Cricket, but in the case of Luke Wright, it was plenty of calls to Britain to ensure the all-rounder was well-conditioned, because by the time he arrived in Australia he had not hit a ball outdoors since the World Twenty20 in September. The remarkable performance by Lasith Malinga on Wednesday night proved the Stars' lack of concern about their Sri Lankan spearhead's fitness for the format was well-founded.
Across town, the Renegades had learnt from last season that calling on too many players from outside the state system made monitoring preparations too difficult.
Last season, the Renegades had Pakistan pair Shahid Afridi and Abdul Razzaq, and six Australians without regular state commitments - including pacemen Shane Harwood, Shaun Tait and Dirk Nannes - on their books. Helmot said a conscious decision was made to avoid that headache.
''They hadn't been involved enough in day-to-day cricket,'' Helmot said of last season's group.
This year the Renegades flew Daniel Harris and Aaron O'Brien over early from Adelaide to play Premier Cricket in Melbourne, and liaised regularly with Muttiah Muralitharan while the spin great trained with domestic sides in Sri Lanka.
Helmot said Muralitharan arrived in perfect shape and, although aged 40, could emulate the success Brad Hogg, Warne and Stuart MacGill tasted in the inaugural season.