Sport BBL Melbourne derby: Falling Stars won't make 'rash' list-management decisions

08:31  05 january  2018
08:31  05 january  2018 Source:   theage.com.au

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The struggling Melbourne Stars insist there won't be any impulsive list-management decisions, as president Eddie McGuire returns to cast a keen eye on Saturday night's Big Bash League derby against the Renegades.

Stars chief executive Clint Cooper said on Friday management and the board were "backing the guys in" after a torrid start that has the Stars winless after three rounds, in bottom spot and in a fight to remain in the finals hunt.

The Stars have always been a focus of public and media attention because of what is seen as their "glamour" appeal, for they have boasted big names on and off the field but have yet to enjoy a title. The criticism of their batting and bowling this season has ramped-up, but Cooper said coach Stephen Fleming and his players had remained composed.

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"It's really positive. The skipper and coach are doing a hell of a job. Everyone is working as hard as they possibly can behind the scenes. I am pretty confident a win is just around the corner. You certainly can't ask any more from what they have been doing in their preparation – their preparation has been sensational," he said.

"I am sure they are working through what the issues are and they will come out firing.

"The Brisbane game [in Brisbane], we bowled poorly and batted poorly at the top but almost recovered it. In Perth, we bowled incredibly well and the batters let us down. The other night, it was certainly a combination of both ... it's a long season, particularly this year going to 10 games. Hopefully, we will go all right."

The Renegades and Stars split their results in the derbies last season, with each claiming victory in the other's backyard. The third-placed Renegades head into this latest MCG clash with a 3-1 record.

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The Stars had only two players off-contract last season, with one – skipper David Hussey – retiring. There will be six players off-contract once this campaign is done, giving the club greater flexibility should results not be as expected.

"We are not in panic stations yet. Each year is an evolution of the list. Certainly, we will have more contracts out for renewal this year than we have had in previous years but that is just a natural cycle. We are certainly not going to make any rash decisions, right here, right now," Cooper said.

"We have backed a bunch of players in over the last two years and we are fairly confident that they will get us through and, at least, put on the best performance they possibly can. But we will review in totality at the end of the season."

Fleming and Glenn Maxwell are among those contracted for next year but Kevin Pietersen, with two underwhelming innings so far this season, is off-contract and has yet to declare whether he wants to play on.

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"A guy of his stature and where he is in his life, it comes down to his appetite to want to continue playing or not – matched and balanced by how he is going and what he wants to do for his on-field career as opposed to his off-field career. I am confident Kevin will be involved in our club in some capacity in the future regardless of whether he plays or not," Cooper said.

McGuire has been on holiday with his family but is back in town at a time when the Stars are at a critical juncture, having dropped their past six matches when last year's results are also taken into consideration.

Skipper Jon Hastings will hope to break out of his funk, claiming only one wicket and scoring five runs in three games, while opener Ben Dunk, the two-time leading BBL scorer, has only 11 runs.

The Stars are banking on a crowd of more than 60,000 on a day when the women's cross-town derby will be held in the afternoon in temperatures expected to exceed 40 degrees. However, a cool change has been forecast for the early evening. There were 71,162 supporters on hand for the corresponding fixture last season.

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