BBL05 Season Preview
This season marks the fifth edition of Big Bash League with plenty of local and international talent back for what should be another closely-fought tournament.
Melbourne Stars ($5.4)
The Melbourne Stars are favourites to capture their first ever title, having made the finals in every edition of the BBL. Their squad is certainly brimming with quality and depth, however they will suffer from international commitments at the back-end of the tournament, losing Glenn Maxwell and James Faulkner as well as potentially Marcus Stoinis and John Hastings to the Australian limited-overs squad. Historically the Stars have been overrated by punters and in last season’s tournament they had the lowest weighted average price in the 2014/15 season – see the graph below.
While the strength of their squad featuring the likes of Luke Wright, David Hussey and Adam Zampa should see them qualify for their fifth-straight finals series, I couldn’t be backing them at 5.40 to take out the trophy.
Perth Scorchers ($5.8)
Next in-line are defending champions Perth Scorchers. The Scorchers have once again assembled one of the best bowling attacks in domestic T20 cricket featuring Jason Behrendorff, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Brad Hogg, Andrew Tye, Joel Paris, David Willey, Ashton Agar and James Muirhead. While their batting will suffer from the loss of Adam Voges and the Marsh brothers to national duties, they have seasoned T20 batsmen Michael Klinger and Michael Carberry at the top of the order while English import Willey adds some much-needed starch to the middle-order. Perth are the most successful side in the history of the BBL, having made every single final (winning the past two), so there’s definite value in the 5.80 available for them to make it three straight.
The Scorchers are particularly potent when defending a low score, having successfully defended five out of six totals under 150 over the past two seasons of the BBL so look to get with their excellent bowling attack when defending scores of 150 or less at bigger than 2.00.
Melbourne Renegades ($6.4)
The Melbourne Renegades enter the BBL05 with a powerful batting line-up but some serious question marks over their bowling with James Pattinson and Peter Siddle unlikely to see much action due to international commitments. Much responsibility will fall on all-rounder Dwayne Bravo and limited overs specialist Nathan Rimmington, with the steady Xavier Doherty and a host of relatively unheralded seam options providing support. Chris Gayle and Aaron Finch form an explosive opening pair, however Finch along with Matthew Wade will miss the second-half of the tournament and with Cameron White having recently been dropped by Victoria the Renegades may be relying on the West Indian duo of Gayle and Bravo for regular contributions with the bat. When you scratch the surface the Renegades look the most over-rated side in the tournament and their current price of 6.40 is a definite Lay for me.
With their lack of quality and depth in the bowling department there should be opportunities to oppose the Renegades attack when defending a high score. Look to lay the Renegades at 1.50 or shorter when Gayle and co have racked up a score of 180 plus as their shaky bowling attack will likely allow the chasing side every opportunity to overhaul such hefty targets.
Wow…2 brand new babies I’m taking with me until my gold bat in Australia 😍 can’t wait to bless them. 🙏🏿 🏏💃🏻 pic.twitter.com/5LROavh3ku
— Chris Gayle (@henrygayle) December 2, 2015
Hobart Hurricanes ($7.6)
The Hobart Hurricanes are a bit similar to the Renegades in that they have plenty of power with the bat but look to be short on quality with the ball. Cameron Boyce is an accomplished spinner but Shaun Tait’s best days are well behind him, while Jack Reed, Joe Mennie and Sam Rainbird don’t have a lot of experience in this format. All-rounders Darren Sammy, Daniel Christian and Simon Milenko provide solid fifth/sixth bowler options but are much more reliable with the bat. On the flipside Hobart’s batting looks powerful and deep with established pair Ben Dunk and Tim Paine followed by the classy Kumar Sangakkara and George Bailey, while the all-rounders add plenty of punch and finishing power. Hobart look well priced at around the 8.00 mark which I could neither back nor Lay.
Sydney Sixers ($8.8)
One of the sides to be most impacted by international duty are the Sydney Sixers who are unlikely to see much (if any) of Steve Smith, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon and Mitchell Starc. However this is a scenario familiar to the Sixers who last season also had to deal without Brad Haddin and were only a botched run-out away from taking out the title. The Sixers have a strong top-order featuring Nic Maddinson, Michael Lumb, Haddin and captain Moises Henriques while the bowling has plenty of quality and variety including the likes of Jackson Bird, Doug Bollinger, Sean Abbott, Johan Botha and Steve O’Keefe. Aside from their non-existent depth, the main concern with the Sixers is how they finish off the innings in both disciplines – Abbott is both the only specialist death-bowler and recognised hitter down the order. However it’s also worth considering that the Sixers have been historically one of the most successful sides in the competition, making the finals in three out of four seasons and with their well-balanced squad I think there’s some value for them at 8.80.
Adelaide Strikers ($10.5)
Last season the Adelaide Strikers surprised everyone by going from wooden spoon favourites to table-toppers, losing only one regular season match before crashing out in the semi-finals. This season they will have to do without star international recruit Keiron Pollard, who sustained a knee injury whilst playing in South Africa’s Ram Slam tournament. Mahela Jayawardene is a more than handy replacement with the bat but may leave them on options with the ball. The batting is led by the volatile pair of Craig Simmons and Tim Ludeman, with the more reliable Travis Head, Brad Hodge and Jayawardene to follow. Alex Ross will look to continue his fine finishing form from the Matador Cup, although the Strikers could have a long tail with Adil Rashid coming in as high as seven. Leg-spinner Rashid will be joined by Ben Laughlin and Kane Richardson in an otherwise inexperienced attack. Overall Adelaide have the bones of a strong side and should be unaffected by international call-ups, however they lack the depth across the board to be backing them at the 10.50 available. Take a look at how they’re priced performed in the 2014/15 season results below.
Sydney Thunder ($11)
Traditional strugglers Sydney Thunder are the only side to have never qualified for the finals in the history of the BBL, finishing in the bottom-two every season. But Thunder fans (and backers) have reason to be slightly more optimistic this season as they have compiled a competitive, albeit aging squad that should see them in the mix for a long-awaited finals birth. Their bowling is their primary strength lead by the impressive Gurinder Sandhu who will be supported by the experienced Clint McKay and wily Fawad Ahmed as well as a host of all-rounders including Andre Russell, Jacques Kallis and Shane Watson. The batting is a mix of accumulators such as Kallis and Mike Hussey surrounded by powerful hitters including Watson, Russell and Aiden Blizzard and provided they can put enough runs on the board the Thunder may well break-through for first top four finish although I couldn’t quite back them for the title at 11.00.
This season the Thunder will play all of their home games at Spotless Stadium and while it’s not a lot of data to go off the two games there last season produced pitches that were very difficult for batting, resulting in very low first innings scores. If the Spotless pitch plays the same way look to get against runs in the first innings there, especially against the under-rated Thunder attack.
Brisbane Heat ($12.5)
The only way is up for the Brisbane Heat who won only two games last season and propped up the table. The batting looks much the same as last season with the notable exception of West Indian opener Lendl Simmons who will carry much of the responsibility for compiling decent totals along with middle-order pair Chris Lynn and Nathan Reardon. However the bowling department is the most cause of concern for Brisbane with very little quality to speak of outside Simmons’ countryman Samuel Badree who is ranked number two in the ICC World T20 rankings. New coach Daniel Vettori will be hoping that either one of their newcomers (Mark Steketee, Josh Lalor, Andrew Fekete, Jack Wildermuth) or old-stagers (James Hopes, Ben Cutting, Jason Floros) steps up and has a great tournament with the ball, otherwise they could be set for a second consecutive wooden spoon. Even at 12.50 I couldn’t go near the Heat.