Australia star Glenn Maxwell will make his return to cricket this month and lead Melbourne Stars into the new Big Bash League season.

All-rounder Maxwell announced he would be taking a short break from cricket to address "difficulties" relating to his mental health during Australia's T20I series against Sri Lanka at the end of October.

The Stars, who lost to Melbourne Renegades in the BBL final last year, confirmed the 31-year-old had joined their pre-season camp ahead of their first match in the competition against Brisbane Heat on December 20.

"We're pleased to see Glenn in green and ready to lead our side with a big season ahead," said Stars coach David Hussey.

"He's an incredible talent and a key part of our club but health and wellbeing comes first and it's important that he's been able to take some time away to focus on that."

After an initial absence, Maxwell has been stepping up his schedule, playing club cricket and training with the Victoria Sheffield Shield squad.

He has scored three centuries and had a further seven fifties for Australia in T20 cricket and is also expected to be involved in the Indian Premier League auction later this month.

Maxwell recently told reporters he had felt "mentally and physically ruined" from living out of a suitcase and believed spending four or five years on the road with his cricket commitments had taken its toll.

Veteran West Indies opener Chris Gayle has announced that he is taking a break for the remainder of the year.

Michael Klinger will lead Melbourne Renegades through their Big Bash League title defence after replacing Andrew McDonald as head coach.

The former Perth Scorchers batsman becomes the fourth coach in the franchise's history following McDonald's appointment as Justin Langer's assistant for Australia.

Klinger retired from the BBL at the end of last season after amassing 1,947 runs – the most in the competition's history.

The 39-year-old was reportedly in contention to join Australia's national selection panel, a role now expected to go to George Bailey.

Klinger said: "I've played with and against a number of players in the squad and I'm looking forward to working alongside such a talented playing group.

"Andrew has set up a terrific platform and I'm ready to take that forward this season."

Cricket Australia (CA) has imposed a year-long ban, with nine months suspended, on Hobart Hurricanes player Emily Smith after she posted a team line-up on Instagram before its official release.

Smith's post, which went up around an hour before it was permitted, was considered a breach of CA's anti-corruption code.

The 24-year-old displayed the team on the social media platform prior to a Women's Big Bash League fixture against Sydney Thunder on November 2, a match that was abandoned because of poor weather.

The sanction has been accepted by Smith and the three-month suspension she will serve rules her out of the rest of the Women's Big Bash League and Women's National Cricket League. 

Sean Carroll, CA's head of integrity and security, said the governing body accepted there was no intent to breach the code but all players must be aware of their responsibilities.

Carroll said via a CA statement: "Whilst Cricket Australia acknowledges that at the time of posting the team line-up there was no intent to breach the Anti-Corruption Code, CA's rigorous anti-corruption player education program means that players are well aware of their obligations under the Anti-Corruption Code and there is no excuse for breaches regardless of the reasons for information being disclosed.

"Since the commencement of the WBBL, Cricket Australia has had in place a robust anti-corruption program. 

"We have been working with Emily throughout the process and Emily now understands the mistake she made. 

"Unfortunately, in this instance Emily's actions breached the Anti-Corruption Code. We hope this serves as reminder to all that the Anti-Corruption Code is critical to protecting the integrity of the game."

Steve Smith has signed with the Sydney Sixers and the Big Bash League outfit hope to have the star batsman available late in the upcoming season.

Smith, 30, has previously played 20 matches for the Sixers, making 499 runs – including four half-centuries – at an average of 31.18.

The right-hander's availability for the 2019-20 campaign is again dependent on Australia selection, but the Sixers are hoping Smith can play "the last two to three games of the regular season, and the finals series".

"I am excited about getting an opportunity to play for the Sydney Sixers again," Smith said in a statement on Friday.

"When the schedule came out and I saw there was a chance to wear the magenta again I jumped at the opportunity and look forward to joining up with the team after my January national team commitments have ended."

Sixers general manager Jodie Hawkins hailed the signing of Smith, saying the former Australia captain would add plenty to the squad.

"We couldn't be more excited to see Steve back in magenta this season," she said. "He was a part of our original squad that won the first BBL back in January 2012 and to see him return to our setup again is going to be brilliant."

"He's an asset not just on the field but also for our young players.

"Sixers fans will also be delighted to see him back in team colours later this season after the international season."

The Sixers confirmed Smith was replacing wicketkeeper-batsman Peter Nevill in their squad.

They begin their season against the Perth Scorchers on December 18.

Dale Steyn hopes a stint with Melbourne Stars in the Big Bash League can boost his chances of representing South Africa at next year's T20 World Cup in Australia.

Veteran paceman Steyn missed the 2019 Cricket World Cup due to a shoulder injury and announced his retirement from Tests in August.

With the Proteas taking on England in four Tests across December and January, the 36-year-old has been granted leave for the Stars' first six games – the last of which is the derby with Melbourne Renegades at the MCG on January 4.

That is exactly one month before the white-ball leg of England's tour to South Africa, and Steyn hopes the BBL experience will help him achieve his ultimate goal of representing his country.

"This is the first year where the cricket schedule gives me the opportunity to come down and enjoy everything Melbourne has to offer," said Steyn.

"Having watched closely from afar, the BBL is a top tournament which has a great reputation overseas. I love cricket and want to make a difference in any team that I am playing for. I have had time to get fit and have been bowling for two months now. I can't wait to get over there and get going.

"Obviously the first prize is always to play for your country. Representing South Africa is the only thing I've ever done for my whole career so far, so to get back into that team is prize number one.

"They're pretty tight on not allowing players to go and play in the Big Bash, but knowing that I'm not available for the Tests, wanting to keep me fit, and also having one eye on the Twenty20 World Cup at the backend of next year, they probably felt like it was a good call.

"Which is great because it keeps me in the running for that World Cup. If I can go over to Australia and get some more experience in those conditions, that could be beneficial."

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