Shane Warne’s No 23 jersey will be permanently retired by his former Big Bash League side Melbourne Stars as they pay tribute to the late, great leg-spinner.
Warne, who passed away at the age of 52 in March of this year, played for Stars in the first two editions of the Big Bash League, captaining them to the semi-finals in the 2012/13 campaign.
In addition to retiring Warne’s shirt, Stars have decided to permanently hang his playing jersey in their changing rooms as a tribute to one of the greatest cricketers of all time.
All other Stars players will have the No 23 incorporated into their tops for their first home game of the season at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Friday, against Hobart Hurricanes.
There will also be a standing ovation after the 23rd ball of that match, while one of Warne’s playing shirts will be displayed on a plinth with his cap.
Stars are involved in the opening match of the 2022/23 season, against Sydney Thunder in Canberra on Tuesday, when they will start their latest bid for a maiden title.
Stars – three-time runners-up and semi-finalists a further four times – are likely to be without all-rounder Glenn Maxwell for the entirety of the season after he broke his leg in a freak accident at a birthday party but have been boosted by the acquisition of New Zealand seamer Trent Boult.
They also have two English players in their squad in the form of hard-hitting batter Joe Clarke and left-arm quick Luke Wood.
The England involvement is not limited to those two, however, with a sprinkling of familiar faces dotted around the eight teams, perhaps headlined by Alex Hales at Sydney Thunder, fresh from his key role in England’s T20 World Cup title triumph in Australia in November.
Chris Jordan and James Vince are also in Sydney but with Sixers, while Stevie Eskinazi and Adam Lyth join Tymal Mills at Perth Scorchers after signing as late replacements for fellow English players Phil Salt and Laurie Evans – Salt is injured while Evans’ contract was terminated after a failed drugs test.
Elsewhere, Adam Hose will represent Adelaide Strikers; Sam Billings, Ross Whiteley and Sam Hain are at Brisbane Heat; and England Test opener Zak Crawley – part of the series win in Pakistan – will link up with Hobart Hurricanes in January for his inaugural Big Bash stint.
The Decision Review System will be in operation for the first time this term, with sides permitted one unsuccessful review per innings, but X-Factor and Bash Boost have been scrapped.
The X-Factor rule allowed teams to sub a player into the game at the 10-over mark of the second innings, while Bash Boost gave the side ahead after 10 overs of the second innings a bonus point.
The Power Surge regulation remains, however, which sees the traditional six overs of powerplay cut to four and the batting team able to use the additional two overs at any point in their final 10 overs.
The lengthy play-off process is also still intact, meaning 61 games in all.
The sides who finish fourth and fifth after each team has played the others home and away will meet in the first play-off, the Eliminator, with the loser knocked out and the winner staying alive.
The teams who finish first and second will square off in the Qualifier with the winner securing immediate progression to the final and the loser faced with a longer route if they are to join them.
Then it is the Knockout (3rd vs winner of Eliminator) followed by the Challenger (loser of the Qualifier vs winner of Knockout) and then the Final (winner of the Qualifier vs winner of the Challenger).
Got all that?!
At the end of it all, one side will stand tall. Stars, perhaps inspired by memories of Warne, will hope that – finally – it is them.
Watch Melbourne Stars take on Sydney Thunder live on Sky Sports Cricket on Tuesday. Coverage starts at 7.45am ahead of an 8.15am start in Canberra.