BIG BASH 06
Fireworks on the ground, fireworks off the ground and exploding interest from the stands – you name it, the KFC Big Bash League has it. Over the past five seasons, BBL has delivered so much fun that the sixth edition is already creating great interest. Some of the biggest names in the T20 generation are expected to grace this year BBL and we look at how the eight franchises shape up for the action that kick starts from December 20.
One of the strongest teams in BBL history and one that will always start as favorites. Last season was the only time they couldn’t reach the finals and the two-time champion would definitely want to prove that it was just an aberration. Led by Adam Voges in the field and Justin Langer off it, the team hopes that a grand BBL entry for Mitchell Johnson will help them.
The two exports from England – Ian Bell and David Willey – are veterans in this format and bring a lot of franchise experience. Bell could just be the best pick by any team this year unless he loses his form dramatically. The absence of Brad Hogg could be a blessing for someone like Ashton Turner who may be thrusted to bowl more often than he does.
Odds to win the title: 5.50 (Ladbrokes)
Punt for top batsman: Bell
Punt for top bowler: Johnson
Squad: Adam Voges (c), Ashton Agar, Cameron Bancroft, Jason Behrendorff, Ian Bell, Hilton Cartwright, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Mitchell Johnson, Michael Klinger, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, James Muirhead, Joel Paris, Jhye Richardson, Ashton Turner, Andrew Tye, Sam Whiteman, David Willey
The best team in the league phase last season, only to be bundled out by an Usman Khawaja inspired Sydney Thunder in the semis. This year though, there is strong belief within their ranks that all the off-season changes will help them go deep. Travis Head would miss the second half provided he gets a call-up for the Pakistan ODI series which means more responsibility on captain Brad Hodge and new addition Ben Dunk.
Foreign imports add explosive ability to the Strikers – Kieron Pollard will be itching to go after missing last season while Chris Jordan is an often under-rated all-rounder. All eyes would be on Jake Lehmann who is fast making a name for himself although the injury to Jon Holland could be a huge blow to their hopes.
Odds to win the title: 8.50 (Crownbet)
Punt for top batsman: Hodge
Punt for top bowler: Jordan
Squad: Brad Hodge (c), Wes Agar, Alex Carey, Jonathon Dean, Ben Dunk, Travis Head, Jon Holland, Chris Jordan, Ben Laughlin, Jake Lehmann, Tim Ludeman, Michael Neser, Kieron Pollard, Kane Richardson, Craig Simmons, Kelvin Smith, Billy Stanlake, Jake Weatherald
One of the laggards in the history of BBL who will definitely look to set things right this year. Aaron Finch has a squad that covers all bases and the capture of Brad Hogg from Perth could be a master stroke. James Pattinson is eager to put all his injury troubles behind and just run like wind, which is definitely bad news to all the batters from other teams.
Cameron White rounds off an impressive array of talent but keep some of your awe for the foreign imports – Dwayne Bravo and Sunil Narine. The duo is well travelled across the global T20 leagues – especially Bravo. He could be looked upon to play a vital role with both bat and ball. Watch out for the slew of slow balls from the Caribbean all-rounder.
Odds to win the title: 6.00 (Bet365)
Punt for top batsman: White
Punt for top bowler: Bravo
Squad: Aaron Finch (c), Tom Beaton, Dwayne Bravo, Tom Cooper, Xavier Doherty, Callum Ferguson, Marcus Harris, Brad Hogg, Sunil Narine, Peter Nevill, James Pattinson, Nathan Rimmington, Peter Siddle, Chris Tremain, Matthew Wade, Matthew Short, Cameron White, Nick Winter
A great composition on paper but the biggest worry for Sixers is the presence of many Australian regulars. Nathan Lyon, Nic Maddinson and Jackson Bird could miss the first half while Josh Hazelwood and Mitchell Starc could be absent for virtually the entire tournament.
That puts the limelight firmly on the England imports Jason Roy and Sam Billings who could prove to be very shrewd signings. It could turn out to be a disadvantage too, if both get called up for England’s tour of India! Johan Botha comes in the Australian quota while Moises Henriques will have a lot to think about balancing the side in view of all these frequent international call-ups.
Odds to win the title: 8.50 (Sportsbet)
Punt for top batsman: Billings
Punt for top bowler: Botha
Squad: Moises Henriques (c), Sean Abbott, Doug Bollinger, Jackson Bird, Johan Botha, Ryan Carters, Ben Dwarshuis, Brad Haddin, Josh Hazlewood, Daniel Hughes, Sam Billings, Nathan Lyon, Nic Maddinson, Joe Mennie, Stephen O’Keefe, Jason Roy, Jordan Silk, Mitchell Starc
Another consistent side in the BBL history who would love to go one step beyond the runners-up performance from last season. David Hussey has an enviable array of stars at his disposal although a slew of Australian regulars would mean disruption at regular intervals to their team composition. The loss of John Hastings to injury is a blow too!
Kevin Pietersen and Luke Wright are the foreign imports and would be available for the whole tournament. Watch out for the all-round skills of Marcus Stoinis who keeps getting better every season while Michael Beer could profit from Adam Zampa’s absence for international commitments.
Odds to win the title: 5.50 (Bet365)
Punt for top batsman: Pietersen
Punt for top bowler: Beer
Squad: David Hussey (c), Michael Beer, Scott Boland, James Faulkner, Seb Gotch, Evan Gulbis, Peter Handscomb, Sam Harper, John Hastings, Ben Hilfenhaus, Glenn Maxwell, Kevin Pietersen, Rob Quiney, Marcus Stoinis, Tom Triffitt, Daniel Worrall, Luke Wright, Adam Zampa
Leave what everything history says, this season could see a very different Brisbane Heat. Brendon McCullum will be available for the whole season and may change the entire fabric. Together with Chris Lynn, he could form an explosive duo at the top that most teams would like to dodge. But otherwise they are still pretty thin in batting which could be a worry.
Bowling will revolve around the T20 skills of foreign import Samuel Badree which again is thin otherwise. They are better prepared and settled than last year but will depend a lot on their batsmen to carry their hopes.
Odds to win the title: 9.00 (Ladbrokes)
Punt for top batsman: McCullum
Punt for top bowler: Badree
Squad: Brendon McCullum (c), Samuel Badree, Joe Burns, Ben Cutting, Alex Doolan, Andrew Fekete, Luke Feldman, Jason Floros, Sam Heazlett, Marnus Labuschagne, Josh Lalor, Chris Lynn, James Peirson, Nathan Reardon, Alex Ross, Mark Steketee, Mitchell Swepson, Jack Wildermuth
Another side that went cold last year but come with high hopes this season. Hobart will hope for wonders from their foreign imports Stuart Broad and Kumar Sangakkara. The Sri Lankan was a disappointment last year with nothing of note and will hope to settle old scores while one-time crowd-villain Broad will suddenly become a fan favorite!
Tim Paine will carry the burden of scoring once again, now that Ben Dunk has moved to Hurricanes. Dan Christian will be expected to do the all-rounder job while the blow-hot blow-cold Shaun Tait adds wealth of experience with his T20 knowledge from across the globe.
Odds to win the title: 11.00 (Sportsbet)
Punt for top batsman: Paine
Punt for top bowler: Broad
Squad: Cameron Boyce, George Bailey, Dan Christian, Clive Rose, Jake Reed, Sam Rainbird, Hamish Kingston, Simon Milenko, Tim Paine, Shaun Tait, Beau Webster, Jonathan Wells, Dominic Michael, Kumar Sangakkara
There is a bit of uncertainty around the defending Champions this season. Usman Khawaja could possibly miss the entire tournament while Pat Cummins and Eoin Morgan will be absent in the second half. And of course there is the threat of drug ban hovering over their star all-rounder Andre Russell.
Amidst all this drama is the other side of Thunder which boasts of proven performers like Shane Watson, Fawad Ahmed and Clint McKay. Watch out for the young off-break ‘similar to Narine’ bowler Arjun Nair who could surprise a few with both bat and ball.
Odds to win the title: 7.50 (Ladbrokes)
Punt for top batsman: Watson
Punt for top bowler: Russell
Squad: Shane Watson (c), Fawad Ahmed, Aiden Blizzard, Patrick Cummins, Jake Doran, Ryan Gibson, Chris Green, Chris Hartley, Usman Khawaja, Nathan McAndrew, Alister McDermott, Clint McKay, Eoin Morgan, Arjun Nair, Kurtis Patterson, Ben Rohrer, Andre Russell, Gurinder Sandhu