The fifth instalment of the Big Bash League gets under way on December 17th, and with that in mind here is a quick run down on the sides for this year’s season. This instalment will be looking at the last four teams in the competition, the Melbourne Stars, Perth Scorchers, Sydney Sixers and Sydney Thunder.
Last Season: 3rd in group stage (Lost Semi-final to Scorchers)
Squad (Overseas Players):
-Batsman: David Hussey, Kevin Pietersen (Eng), Rob Quiney, Seb Gotch
-Bowlers: Michael Beer, Scott Boland, Dan Worrall, Ben Hilfenhaus, Adam Zampa,
-All Rounders: Evan Gulbis, John Hastings, James Faulkner, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Luke Wright (Eng)
-Keepers: Peter Handscomb, Sam Harper, Tom Triffitt,
Predicted XI: Luke Wright, Marcus Stoinis, Kevin Pietersen, Glen Maxwell, David Hussey, Peter Handscomb†, James Faulkner, John Hastings, Adam Zampa, Ben Hilfenhaus Michael Beer
As always the Stars will field what is on paper a very powerful lineup. Having a team filled with quality all-rounders means the team could afford to play with one less bowler, but I think they’ll use this opportunity to play two spinners in Beer and Zampa. Another option would be to play another paceman in Boland, who was a solid performer for the side last season. Stoinis will probably get the first go at opening, but Rob Quiney is a more then capable replacement waiting in the wings.
Who to look out for: Marcus Stoinis. After being given a surprise call up to the national side earlier in the year, Stoinis is slowly building up a list of noteworthy performances across all formats. Yet to set the competition alight during previous instalments Stoinis’ will be looking to send a reminder to selectors of his capabilities ahead of next year’s T20 World Cup.
Preview: With a lineup that has always been, to go with their name, filled with Stars, the team will be looking to finally break the semi-final duck that has been troubling them since the BBL’s inception. It’s difficult to see any major flaw in the side, perhaps the historical inconsistency of some players, particularly the openers will make it difficult for the side to get a solid start. Apart from that, the fact that they may once again struggle to deal with the weight of expectations may well be a factor. The side should be fairly settled up until the start of the ODI’s, so they should finish high up, but whether they can go on from there will remain to be seen.
Predicted Finish: 2nd
Last Season: 2nd in group stage (Winners)
-Batsman: Michael Klinger, Michael Carberry (Eng), Marcus Harris, Shaun Marsh, Adam Voges.
-Bowlers: Jason Behrendorff, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Simon Mackin, James Muirhead, Joel Paris, Andrew Tye, Brad Hogg,
-All Rounders: Ashton Agar, David Willey (Eng), Mitch Marsh, Ashton Turner,
-Keepers: Cameron Bancroft, Sam Whiteman
Predicted XI: Shaun Marsh/Marcus Harris, Michael Klinger, Adam Voges/Cameron Bancroft, Michael Carberry, Ashton Agar/Mitch Marsh, David Willey, Sam Whiteman†, Nathan Coulter-Nile/Joel Paris, Andrew Tye, Jason Behrendorff, Brad Hogg.
The Scorchers are perhaps the side that will be affected the most by international fixtures with up to four members of their first choice side potentially being unavailable for periods of the tournament. Expect to see the side stick to a lineup similar to that of last year, with overseas inclusion, David Willey having the potential to add another dimension to their batting with the ability to play up or down the order. 44 year old Brad Hogg will be going around once more with his form showing no signs of decline. Has become a vital go to option for the middle overs and will be important for the side once more.
Who To Look Out For: Joel Paris. Whilst perhaps not a first up starter in the side, injury concerns with Behrendorff, as well as players potentially missing through international duties, means that Paris should be expected to be in for a couple of matches this season. After a couple of injury affected years, Paris has been in promising form for Western Australia and could be an added bonus to their bowling attack.
Predicted Finish: 5th
Preview: Having made the final every year of the tournament as well as winning it the last two seasons, don’t expect the Scorchers to be a push over. Their game revolves around the strength of their bowling, something that shouldn’t be affected too much by the Tests coming up. What is affected though is there batting, which will be losing Voges and one or both of the Marsh brothers, something the side may not be able to overcome this time. Yes, it should be pointed out that the teams primary run scorers from last season in Klinger and Carberry will still be in the side, but Voges and S Marsh were notable contributors and it remains to be seen whether their replacements, for Voges in particular, will be adequate replacements. Because of this the team will in all likelihood need strong performances with the bat from Agar, Willey and Whiteman if they’re going to be a chance for a hat trick of titles and it’s the uncertainty over this that may see them finally drop this season.
Last Season: 4th in group stage (Runners Up)
Squad (Overseas Players):
-Batsman: Ed Cowan, Michael Lumb (Eng), Steven Smith, Nic Maddinson, Jordan Silk,
-Bowlers: Doug Bollinger, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Jackson Bird, Soumil Chhibber, Li-Kai Ming (Hong Kong), Mickey Edwards (rookie), Mitchell Starc (inj),
-All Rounders: Sean Abbott, Ben Dwarshuis, Moises Henriques, Stephen O’Keefe, Johan Botha (SA),
-Keepers: Ryan Carters, Brad Haddin,
Predicted XI: Michael Lumb, Nic Maddinson, Ryan Carters, Moises Henriques, Jordan Silk, Brad Haddin†, Sean Abbott, Johan Botha/Nathan Lyon, Stephen O’Keefe, Jackson Bird, Doug Bollinger/Josh Hazlewood.
With the absence of Hazlewood, Lyon, Starc and Smith for some if not all of the tournament, the team pretty much picks itself. The only contention would probably arise from who gets a batting spot between Carters and Cowan, and expect Carters to get first look based on previous form. The Sixers have picked up Hong Kong spinner Li-Kai Ming, but it’s unlikely that he’ll get a shot unless O’Keefe is called up to the Test side.
Who To Look Out For: Jordan Silk. Strong batting performances by Silk will be vital for the Sixers this season as he’ll be looking to shore up the middle order of, what is on paper, one of the weaker batting lineups in the competition.
Preview: Like the Scorchers, the Sixers success in the past has revolved around the quality and consistency of their bowling attack. Going into this season though, the strength of their bowling lineup is slightly more questionable. The retirement of star paceman Brett Lee has left a sizeable gap in the side, with Lee being both the teams’ leading wicket taker and go to death bowler over last year’s comp. Bird has been brought in to fill this hole and there certainly question marks over whether he can do this. Botha looks to be a solid replacement for Lyon whilst he’s on international duty, and the ability of bowlers like Henriques and O’Keefe to keep the runs down is invaluable, but the team has still failed to make any improvements on their batting lineup. This could prove costly as bar Maddinson, Lumb and Henriques, they have no star Twenty20 batsman in their lineup. May be a surprise slider as teams below look to have improved on last year.
Predicted Finish: 7th
Last Season: 7th
Squad (Overseas Players):
-Batsman: Aiden Blizzard, Mike Hussey, Kurtis Patterson, Jonte Pattison, Ben Rohrer, Usman Khawaja,
-Bowlers: Patrick Cummins (inj), Gurinder Sandhu, Chris Green, Clint McKay, Alistair McDermott, Fawad Ahmed.
-All Rounders: Jacques Kallis (SA), Andrew McDonald, Shane Watson, Andre Russell (WI), Ahillen Beadle,
-Keepers: Chris Hartley, Jake Doran
Predicted XI: Michael Hussey, Jacques Kallis, Shane Watson, Usman Khawaja/Kurtis Pattinson, Aiden Blizzard, Ben Rohrer, Chris Hartley†, Andre Russell, Gurinder Sandhu, Clint McKay, Fawad Ahmed.
Inclusions of Watson, Roher, Russell and the potential of a fit Khawaja bring some much needed batting depth to their lineup. In the past the fortunes of the team have swung on the performances of one or two notable batsman, but now with solid batters all the way down to Russell at 8, the side seems to have fixed that issue. An injured Pat Cummins, hurts them a little bit, but they’ve recruited well with McKay, Ahmed and McDermott all capable T20 performers.
Who To Look Out For: Shane Watson. In previous instalments of the competition Watson’s commitments to the national side has meant that he’s never managed a consistent run of matches. This season he’ll be free for what looks to be the whole season and expect him to come out with a point to prove and remind everyone he’s not a spent force just yet.
Preview: After years languishing at the bottom of the table, perhaps now is the year will see the Thunder give the title a good shake. Sandhu, McKay and Ahmed form a solid bowling lineup and their economical bowling will be complimented well by allrounders Kallis, Watson and Russell. It can perhaps be said that the batting drops away after an experienced top 3, but there’s a bit of grunt in the middle order, with Blizzard and Roher bringing some more then capable hitting ability if need be. The teams batting reserves are fairly shallow though, so any injuries may lead to old problems with the batting lineup arising once again.
Predicted Finish: 1st
*See Part 1 for previews for the rest of the teams*