CRICKET: Glenn Maxwell says the Melbourne Stars boast the depth to win their first Big Bash League championship as three of their guns depart for Australian one-day duties.
Maxwell, James Faulkner and Adam Zampa will tomorrow link up with the Aussies for the five-match series against Pakistan starting on Friday.
With John Hastings (knee) injured, the Stars (2-2) are likely to play out the remaining four games plus finals without four of their aces.
But they will regain wicketkeeper Peter Handscomb from the Test line-up for tomorrow night's MCG clash against the Adelaide Strikers and are likely to play all-rounders Marcus Stoinis and Evan Gulbis.
Maxwell anointed development rookie Devlin Malone as a smoky to replace leg-spinner Zampa with the Stars slim on slow-bowling options.
"He's a little superstar. He's very much in a similar mould to Zampa - a shorter guy who skids it on and bowls stump to stump,” Maxwell said.
"I can tell you that from facing him in the nets, he's pretty hard to get away and he's had a few of the big boys in a bit of trouble.
"Hopefully he gets a crack and he can show the world what he does.”
Malone took 10 wickets in a Sydney grade match as a 17-year-old and can be promoted to the Stars' 18-man roster by the BBL technical committee.
Last summer Gulbis, Dan Worrall and Robert Quiney helped spear the Stars to their maiden final after the Australians pinched Faulkner, Hastings, Maxwell and Scott Boland.
"Obviously every year our depth gets tested, but you don't win these BBL tournaments without the full 18 players in the squad,” Maxwell said.
"I think that's why we're so happy with keeping our full 18 from last year. We've got a decent bit of depth in our squad, we've got a good 18.”
Stars coach Stephen Fleming said his side was ready for the challenge.
"The squad mentality is very important,” he said.
"I like the challenge of having a squad and having to use that squad, rather than just having a gun 11 or 12 that you send out.”
Maxwell departs after whacking 117 runs from just 71 balls in four innings.
He said he was "excited” to win selection in the squad after sitting out the three ODIs against New Zealand last month.
"I'm excited about getting the opportunity to chuck the colours on again,” Maxwell said.
"I'm just looking forward to being part of that squad again. It's an exciting time after they've just won three Tests 3-0 and to come in on such a high.”
Maxwell said superstar No.3 Kevin Pietersen was in "rare touch” after the Englishman crunched a consecutive half-century.
"What's he, 36? It's pretty good for a guy who hasn't really played much this year, to come in off not much cricket and to play as well as he has,” Maxwell said.
"It just shows the superstar quality that he is.”