It’s Big Bash season, and with BBL 08 kicking off this week, it’s set to be another big summer of cricket.
How is each team shaping up and what are their chances of taking out the title? Our friends at Ladbrokes have looked at each team and what you can expect.
The finals monkey is now off their back, and a year on from winning their first ever Big Bash title the Strikers still look to be one of the most complete sides.
It’s a relatively unchanged squad from the one that defeated the Hurricanes by 25-runs in front of the South Australian faithful last year. The Adelaide Oval lends itself to high-scoring games – good news considering Alex Carey and in-form Test batsman Travis Head occupy the top of the order.
Aside from the two crowd favourites, 24-year old Jake Weatherald will be the one to watch. Last time we saw him in a Strikers uniform he smacked 115-runs off 70 balls, taking his career T20 tally to 500.
The market doesn’t lie, the Strikers are among the favourites for a reason. There’s a great mix of young and old in the line up, which includes crowd favourite, Peter Siddle.
The ‘Bash Brothers’, the ‘Twin Towers’, the ‘Chris N’ Cullum Connection’, whatever you want to call them – Chris Lynn and Brendon McCullum are going to put on a show.
Both batsman strike fear into the heart of fast-bowlers, particularly Lynn, who is averaging 32.45 runs in the white-ball game.
The Heat will rely heavily on both men at the crease this year, but that isn’t to discount Brisbane’s much-improved bowling attack.
If you’re after a name to throw into your multi, make sure it’s ol’ reliable Mitchell Swepson – Brisbane’s leading leg-spinner. He showed plenty of nerve to dismiss Marcus Stoinis after allowing three consecutive sixes in a Sheffield Shield match earlier this year, and at just age 25, Swepson is set to enter his prime.
The Heat bowling attack pales in comparison to some of the competitions elite however, making it their biggest achilles heel. Brisbane need a lot from James Pattinson, but unlike in years past, they’ll be helped out by the raw talent on the roster – most of which will avoid International duty to keep Brisbane’s squad together for most of the season.
Technically the Hurricanes begin their season in Round 2 against the Heat on the Gold Coast, a game that should showcase just how dangerous Hobart really are.
Everywhere you look there’s talent on this team, particularly with the bat. Skipper Matthew Wade and former captain George Bailey bring experience and leadership, while 28-year old sensation D’Arcy Short should provide the bulk share of runs.
On the other side of the ball the bowling attack will be bolstered by David Moody’s return to the side. The paceman missed all of last season with a stress fracture in his back, but three Sheffield Shield wickets against Victoria last week have him ripe for big things.
Last but not least, Englishman all-rounder Jofra Archer will also be worth watching. The 23-year-old youngster averages 16.50 runs with the bat, but is a force with the ball in hand having already taken 87 wickets in just 66 T20 matches.
Can the Renegades pull off the unexpected this year?
For a team that consistently finds themselves in the trophy hunt, last year’s one-run Semi-Final loss to the Strikers at Adelaide Oval was a massive punch in the gut for a team that was once favoured to win the competition.
The run rate will likely see a bit of a drop off hit without Harris, though. The 26-year old was always destined to open the order for Australia after slogging 324-runs for the Renegades last year, but all-rounder Mohammad Nabi could certainly fill his shoes with a powerful hitting style and some bowling class.
As far as the bowling goes, Melbourne leave a lot to be desired. There’s plenty of mouths to feed, including English import Harry Gurney, while Queensland native Cameron Boyce should lead the charge with 57 T20 wickets to his name as the Renegades’ go-to spinner.
If the Stars are to rebound from a lackluster 2017 season they’ll need to rely heavily on Dwayne Bravo. The veteran West Indies sensation is the all-rounder the Stars have been lacking, and his T20 career speaks for itself – 6,050 runs, 457 wickets.
Alongside Bravo, six-year mainstay and new skipper Glenn Maxwell returns to the side at the ripe age of 30. We all know Maxwell is capable of leading the Stars to victory, but the all-rounder will need to be at his very best if Melbourne are to overcome injuries to Nic Maddinson and Daniel Worrall – as well as Marcus Stoinis’ questionable fitness levels.
The $5.00 odds on offer for Perth to win outright are pretty enticing, but there’s still a couple of factors worth considering before you go all-in on the Scorchers.
On paper, Perth’s lineup is stacked, but keep in mind it will be dealt a few blows thanks to international duties. Both Marsh brothers are likely to play Test, ODI and T20 cricket over the summer, and as we saw last year, the run-rate usually suffers with the pair are absent from the side.
You can’t read too much into Perth’s 71-run loss to the Hurricanes in the Semis last year, but run-chasing remains a bit of a problem for this club. Can Ashton Turner bail the Scorchers out of trouble again? Probably. And sure, a string of home games in the second half of the season should help Perth reach the Finals, but beyond that, wait and see.
The Sixers are relying on what appears to be a very mixed squad.
There’s plenty of experience in the likes of captain Moises Henriques blended in with the raw talent of Lloyd Pope, but can Sydney bring it all together and put some wins on the board?
It’s easy to get carried away with expectations following six-straight wins to close out last season. Keep in mind the Sixers did start the year 0-4 though, which lends itself to plenty of concern ahead of what should be another rollercoaster year.
There’s no doubt Pope holds the hopes of Sydney’s season in his fingertips. The 19-year old red-head spinner is a fiery character (no pun intended). He took eight wickets against England in the Under-19 World Cup this year, and although it’s doubtful he plays alongside Nathan Lyon much this season, he’ll do well to learn a thing or two from one of the all-time greats.
Still, the fact the Sixers are relying on a 19-year old to provide some spark says it all. Strong from from Daniel Hughes in the Sheffield Shield leaves room for optimism, but there’s just not a lot to get excited about.
You’d be forgiven for looking at the Thunder’s squad and gawking at the long odds on offer.
That is until you remember just about all of their stars are likely to play in reduced roles this season, namely Pat Cummins and Usman Khawaja who will be occupied with international duties.
Likewise, England’s very own captain Joe Root will likely feature in only a handful of games, which at the very least should make for some interesting headlines alongside Shane Watson and fellow English star Jos Buttler.
The glass half full: Buttler is a great opening order batsman that should keep the Thunder in the bulk of matches this season if he can dig in and put up some nice totals.
The Big Bash is back and there are betting opportunities to be had.
It’s easily accessible with matches on television almost every night for the 2 months of summer, so why not win while you watch?
Don’t miss out – get on board for our Big Bash Tips right now.