Brisbane Heat v Melbourne Renegades
Saturday December 19, 7:10 pm
Last season’s cellar-dwellers Brisbane Heat open their campaign at home to the highly-fancied Melbourne Renegades who also endured a disappointing tournament last year.
The Heat have made two key acquisitions in West Indians Lendl Simmons and Samuel Badree who will carry much responsibility for their side’s success or failure this season. Simmons will be joined at the top of the order by Australian opener Joe Burns with an aggressive middle-order featuring Chris Lynn, Nathan Reardon and Ben Cutting. Where Brisbane really let themselves down last season was their bowling and outside of Badree it’s hard to see much improvement with a collection of unproven seamers such as Mark Steketee, Josh Lalor and Andrew Fekete mixed in with a handful of honest veterans in Cutting, James Hopes and Luke Feldman. All-rounders Daniel Christian and Andrew Flintoff have moved on while Daniel Vettori has been elevated to head coach.
The Renegades are also a side that look much stronger with the bat than with the ball. Their top order has an imposing appearance with master-blaster Chris Gayle joining Aaron Finch at the top of the order, while seasoned limited-overs batsman Cameron White has linked from cross-town rivals Melbourne Stars. Matthew Wade and Gayle’s countryman Dwayne Bravo will likely be responsible for clubbing it around in the death overs now that Ben Rohrer and Andre Russell have joined the Sydney Thunder. Bravo and T20 specialist Nathan Rimmington will lead a fragile-looking Renegades attack that also includes new recruits Xavier Doherty, Chris Tremain, Nathan Hauritz and Cameron Gannon. James Pattinson and Peter Siddle are unavailable due to international commitments while Fawad Ahmed has joined the exodus to the Thunder.
Last season the Gabba generally favoured the batting side with first innings scores of 8/164, 6/152, 6/147 and 6/198 which further suggests that this match could be a run-fest. Despite not winning any matches away from home the Heat did win two of out of the four matches they played in Brisbane last season.
Not surprisingly the Renegades are relatively strong favourites for the match at 1.68, however the strategy for this clash should all be about getting with the batting side and opposing each team’s feeble bowling attack. Expect big scores from both sides so get with runs in the first innings then jump on the chasing side to overhaul a big target.