Amidst huge grief and shock, cricket continues to move, albeit a bit slower and a lot poorer. The T20 season is about to begin in Australia with KFC Big Bash League set to kick off on 18th December this year. The tournament will follow the most common format of two semi-finals and a final unlike IPL where eliminator and qualifiers are played. This competition will last forty odd days and it promises to be full of entertainment, thrill and exciting Cricket which T20 is all about.
Brisbane Heat missed the semi-final spot last time by a whisker, but they’ve now pulled up their socks to make amends for the mistakes they committed in the last season. With the recent signing of Andrew Flintoff, they’ve strengthened their all-round battery with Shane Watson and Dan Christian already in the squad. Their bowling attack is led by Mitchell Johnson ably supported by Ben Cutting, Samuel Badree and Camerson Gannon who was the leading wicket taker in the last season. This squad is full of attacking all-rounders who can turn the game on their head on their day. This is a strong team and would certainly look to make a mark in this season.
Players to watch out for: Andrew Flintoff, Shane Watson, Mitchell Johnson.
Outright Win Odds: 7.00 @ Bet365
Melbourne Stars topped the table last year, but flopped in the semis and missed the spot in the final. They had a flawless record last year in the league stage as they won all out of the eight games they played. They’ve signed Kevin Pietersen to bolster their batting lineup which now looks as explosive as it can be. With Glenn Maxwell, Cameron White, Luke Wright, David Hussey along with aforementioned Kevin Pietersen, they have the right combination of youth experience and experience. Their bowling looks a little thin compared to their batting, but if seen separately, they have a nice bowling attack with pace and accuracy of Faulkner, Jackson Bird, John Hastings and Clint McKay and guile of Michael Beer. With such explosive players in the squad, it won’t be surprising if this side cruises to the semis yet again.
Players to watch out for: Glenn Maxwell, Kevin Pietersen, James Faulkner, Michael Beer.
Outright Win Odds: 4.33 @ Bet365
The men in orange lit the stage on fire by winning the winning the title last time around. Their league campaign wasn’t particularly sensational, but they really turned it on in the knockout stage. They won five out of their eight league games, decent by all standards, and were placed third after the end of league stage. With a young batting line-up with ample experience, they play with flair and exuberance. Marsh brothers, Klinger, Michael Carberry and Adam Voges form the backbone of team’s batting line-up. With ever-young Brad Hogg leading the bowling department and Coulter-Nile and Arafat joining the show, their bowling department looks decent on paper. The defending champions may not have big names, but they certainly do feature a well-balanced side to defend the title.
Players to watch out for: Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Brad Hogg, Adam Voges.
Outright Win Odds: 6.50 @ Bet365
The thunders had a disappointing time in the last season as they finished last in the competition winning just one game. They have a decent squad on paper with veterans of the game like Mike Hussey and Jacques Kallis. Featuring T20 specialists like Dirk Nannes and Eoin Morgan in the squad they enjoy experience of the game. Their bowling looks a little bit weak on paper, but their batting has the potential to make up for it. With nothing to lose and everything to gain from their last year’s performance, this team can make the difference, if their bowling does well and batting makes up for the apparent weakness in the bowling department.
Players to watch out for: Eoin Morgan, Mike Hussey, Jacques Kallis.
Outright Win Odds: 13.00 @ William Hill
Hobart Hurricanes’ squad is led by one of the most successful and popular T20 skippers, George Bailey. Under Bailey’s captaincy, the Hurricanes emerged runners-up in the last season and his leadership skills have been instrumental in Australia’s as well as Kings XI Punjab’s success in the shortest format of the game. The squad comprises of excellent batting line-up with Ben Dunk, highest run scorer of the last season, Alex Hales, Travis Birt, Tim Paine and the skipper himself. Darren Sammy can smash the ball a long way as well. Their bowling too seems balanced with Ben Hilfenhaus and Xavier Doherty leading the attack. Hobart Hurricanes is a decent side on paper and they will have to live up to their strength on paper if they want to make a mark in the competition yet again.
Players to watch out for: George Bailey, Alex Hales, Ben Dunk, Darren Sammy.
Outright Win Odds: 6.00 @ Bet365
The renegades missed out a spot in the semis last time by a small margin owing to their poor Net Run Rate, and they were placed sixth on the table, but with as many points as those of Hurricanes and Brisbane Heat. They would have to make amends and play their hearts out to avoid that situation. With destructive players like Aaron Finch and Jesse Ryder in the squad, they certainly have the capability to do so. They feature a well balanced team with Siddle, Rimmington and Pattinson in the bowling department; Ferguson, Rohrer and Wade in the batting department with Dwayne Bravo’s well known all-round abilities. Renegades can definitely climb up from the last time’s standings and rise up the table this time around.
Players to watch out for: Aaron Finch, Dwayne Bravo.
Outright Win Odds: 7.50 @ Bet365
Sydney Sixers is an excellent side with a perfect blend of youth and experience. They finished second on the points table in the last season largely due to the aforementioned fact. With batters like Brad Haddin, Dwayne Smith, Michael Lumb and Steve Smith in the side, no target can be considered safe enough to defend. The pace battery of Doug Bollinger, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Brett Lee can destroy any batting line-up. They seem to be well placed as far as turning the ball is concerned as well with Nathan Lyon and Steve ‘O Keefe in the side. With abundance of resourceful players in both batting and bowling department, this side will certainly be a tough side to beat.
Players to watch out for: Dwayne Smith, Steve Smith, Steve ‘O Keefe.
Outright Win Odds: 8.00 @ William Hill
Led by Johan Botha, the strikers’ squad seems reasonably good on paper. They managed to win only a couple of games in the last season, but they have the squad to climb up the ladder. With destructive batting skills of Pollard and Simmons and experience of Bradley Hodge, they can really tear apart any bowling attack in the world. Shaun Tait, Kane Richardson and the skipper himself form the heart of the bowling department which by no means is weak. This side may not have the star power with them, but collectively they can really cause some damage and climb higher in the points table.
Players to watch out for: Shaun Tait, Brad Hodge, Kieren Pollard.
Outright Win Odds: 8.00 @ Bet365
The tournament features eight almost equally matched teams and it is pretty hard to pick one from the lot. Brisbane Heat features Shane Watson and has now signed Andrew Flintoff, both of which can turn the game on their day, be it with bat or ball. Melbourne Stars have the services of some of the most feared T20 batsmen in the world with Kevin Pietersen and Glenn Maxwell in the squad. Sydney Sixers will be looking to ride high and handsome on the form of Steve Smith’s form and Dwayne Smith’s flair. Hurricanes have the advantage of playing under the leadership of George Bailey along with having an excellent squad. Renegades can rely on Finch’s power and form and Bravo’s all round skills while strikers and Thunders have the great combination of youth and experience.
As evident from the above, any team is capable of toppling any of the opponents on their day. However, there are some teams which look more likely to do so. I think Melbourne Stars looks to be the most difficult side to beat as it proved in the last season as well. With the hitting capabilities of Glenn Maxwell and Kevin Pietersen along with Luke Wright, scoring quickly can be like a walk in the park. David Hussey and Cameron White can anchor the innings as well as change gears when required. They have a stable bowing attack with experienced guys around. Apparently, the squad of Melbourne Stars is the best on paper and beating them is not going to be easy.
Winner: Melbourne Stars, 4.33 @ Bet365