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Mitchell Starc returns to the BBL, Jonny Bairstow signs for Melbourne Stars

Mitchell Starc is set to appear in the BBL for the first time in six years after signing with defending champions the Sydney Sixers while England wicketkeeper-batsman Jonny Bairstow has joined the Melbourne Stars.

Starc, who has 142 T20 wickets at 17.78, was part of the Sixers side that won the inaugural BBL title in 2011-12, but his most recent appearance came back in 2014 and he has only played 10 times in the competition due to international commitments.

This season there is a small window after the Test series against India where Starc could be available for a handful of group matches and the finals if the Sixers make it that far. The series finishes on January 19 with the Sixers playing local rivals the Thunder on January 22.

ALSO READ: BBL to begin in Tasmania and Canberra hubs, talks continue over Perth matches

Starc recently said he had spent about 30 hours at home since August as he went from the England tour bubble to the Sheffield Shield hub via quarantine in Adelaide and some time with wife Alyssa Healy in Brisbane during the New Zealand series.

It had been thought he would likely take the opportunity for a break, but having opted out of the IPL – and with hope that restrictions around the BBL may have loosened by January – he was keen to take part. The Sixers will hope he can have the same sort of impact as Steven Smith and Josh Hazlewood did when they returned last season.

“I started at the Sixers at BBL01 and it’s nice to continue that journey at a club I’ve still been around with my wife Alyssa involved with the Sixers,” Starc said. “I was watching Steve and Josh get back involved last year, and still being around and involved with the club I saw a little bit of an opportunity to jump back in.

“I’m just really looking forward to being back with some of my really close mates that play for NSW and the Sixers. There’s some great people at the Sixers behind the scenes too.”

Greg Shipperd, the Sixers head coach, said: “He is a maximum impact player who is a world class T20 fast bowler as well as being in the upper echelons across the other formats.”

Meanwhile, Bairstow has become the latest England player to join the tournament and is set to be available from after Christmas following the tour of South Africa and the quarantine most overseas players will need to undertake. He has been part of David Warner’s Sunrisers Hyderabad side at the IPL although was dropped towards the end of the tournament.

The Stars said they expect him to be available for the remainder of the BBL. England are in talks about a brief T20I tour to Pakistan in mid-January, but if that goes ahead it is expected to be with a shadow team.

“I’m glad that Jonny has decided to make his BBL debut with us at the Melbourne Stars,” Stars coach David Hussey said. “He’s been playing at the top level with England for almost a decade now and brings a real competitive fire to matches

“His experience and versatility will be a valuable addition to our batting line-up, and we’ve got several ‘keeping options in the squad as well.”

The BBL will begin on December 10 with matches initially played in Hobart and Canberra before heading to Queensland and Adelaide later in the month. Venues for games in January are yet to be confirmed with the hope that border restrictions will ease further.

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