Boyce still an option as 'Gades ponder future | Melbourne Renegades - BBL
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Boyce still an option as 'Gades ponder future

14 February 2022

Renegades general manager James Rosengarten sits down with cricket.com.au to discuss the club's recruitment strategy as they look for a change of fortune in BBL|12

Melbourne Renegades general manager James Rosengarten has revealed leg-spinner Cameron Boyce's contract wasn't renewed so the club could free up space to refresh their list as they look to climb from KFC BBL cellar dwellers back into finals contention.

In a wide-ranging interview with cricket.com.au, Rosengarten discussed the decision not to offer Boyce a new contract for next season, a change in recruiting strategy and the ambition for the club to play finals in BBL|12.

Rosengarten, a lawyer who took over the general manager role in June last year after stints with the Australian Grand Prix Corporation and Mazda, said an "aggressive" approach was needed to prevent a fourth-straight bottom-of-the-table finish.

He said the club decided they couldn't offer Boyce a new deal before the contracting embargo kicked in at the end of the season but told the right-armer they would continue speaking with him during the off-season.

"It's very much a chance that he could be back with Renegades next year," Rosengarten said.

"It's just that we weren't in a position to be offering a new contract before that embargo period started.

"We do need to make some changes, mix things up and so I suppose that means not committing all the list spots right now and work(ing) through every position."

The BBL enacts a contracting embargo period each year that formally kicked in with the first ball of the final on January 28.

The length of the embargo can vary, and clubs can make non-binding verbal arrangements with players during the embargo period but cannot formally sign any contracts.

Boyce was notified of the club's decision just hours before their last match of the season, in which he captured an incredible four wickets in four balls against the Sydney Thunder, becoming the first bowler to do so in the competition's history.

The leg-spinner is the club's second-leading wicket-taker with 40 after joining for the Hobart Hurricanes ahead of BBL|08, which is when the Renegades won their maiden Big Bash title.

They have since lost 31 of their past 42 games and finished bottom of the ladder for the past three seasons, leading club bosses to begin a major shake-up of the playing list.

Veteran allrounder Mohammad Nabi is another to have felt the shift, with Rosengarten indicating the club needs to move on from the Afghan international.

The 37-year-old, who played 43 games for the Renegades across five seasons, could only manage 36 runs and three wickets in nine matches during BBL|11 and was dropped from the side after Christmas.

"He's been a great player for us for many years, but his performances weren't where we wanted this year and it's not where we need our international players to be," Rosengarten said.

"We need our senior players to be coming and playing full seasons and contributing now to us winning games.

"We've got to assess our internationals that we bring in to make sure that we're getting the best possible players to contribute to wins now."

In Nabi, Reece Topley, Zahir Khan and Unmukt Chand, the Renegades' strategy for their international recruits was to acquire players who would be available for the duration of the 14-game season.

But with the unpredictable nature of global cricket, fast bowler Topley was called up to the England T20 squad halfway through January and Nabi left the tournament early for family reasons.

Rosengarten has since flagged a new approach to the club's international recruiting which, pending the introduction of an overseas player draft, could see them chase more star power for greater impact, similar to what their crosstown rivals did by recruiting Andre Russell and Haris Rauf for short stints.

With veteran batter Shaun Marsh inking a new deal ahead of the embargo starting, it leaves Marcus Harris, Josh Lalor, Mitch Perry, Jack Prestwidge and Will Sutherland off contract at the end of BBL|11.

It's understood the club re-signed a number of other players from that group but is aiming to leave three or four list spots open for recruiting Australian-based talent during the off-season.

Another aspect the Renegades are looking to fix is their list demographic – of the nine players contracted for next season just one, Nic Maddinson, is in the 26 to 30-year-old age bracket.

Four of the remaining eight are aged 31 and older, including Marsh who will be 40 when his new contract expires after BBL|13, while another three players are aged 21 or younger.

Rosengarten said out-of-contract Hurricanes speedster Tom Rogers, who finished BBL|11 with the fourth-most wickets, and delisted Strikers batter Jon Wells, the competition's fourth highest run scorer of all time, were two of about 30 players or managers he'd spoken to in the past couple of weeks.

"We need to get more experience … we'll look to bring people into that middle (age) bracket, and to do that (we) need to get as many spots and flexibility as we can," Rosengarten said.

"One of those is some help for Kane (Richardson) in the tricky overs. Bringing in someone that can help him from a fast-bowling side will be one of our priorities and it already is, we've already done a lot of work bringing new local players particularly into the group for next year.

"We need players to come in and impact games and win games. Jon (Wells) would be one that we would very much want to speak to, we've got a need for some experience in that middle order.

"We've got an incredible group of young players that we've invested a lot of energy into and we're starting to see some real impact on games.

"Guys like (Will) Sutherland, (Jake) Fraser-McGurk and Mackenzie Harvey, we're starting to see some real benefits for those guys … (and) we want them to continue coming through with us.

"I think we need to just put some experience around them. We'll need a couple of free list spots to bring in new players, but it shouldn't come at the expense of (our) young emerging talent, it's just we need to have less reliance on those young players to be winning games for us now."

Rosengarten said the expectation was to play finals next year and he believes the club isn't that far off the pace despite three straight wooden spoons.

"We mucked up a couple of games at the end (of this season), and probably at the start, and even three-quarters of the way through the season we were sitting fifth and had a real shot at it," he said.

"We did a lot of this without input from the overseas guys so I think if (we get our) overseas players right and get a couple of recruits that can impact games now, I genuinely think that we're right in the mix for finals, and that's what's expected."

Renegades contracted for BBL|12: Nic Maddinson (c), Zak Evans, Aaron Finch, Jake Fraser-McGurk, Sam Harper, Mackenzie Harvey, Shaun Marsh, James Pattinson, Kane Richardson, David Saker (coach)