Cricket: Big Bash League: Home and Away Team Reviews

Brad Hodge v Melbourne Renegades, Jan 6, 2013 (photo mine)
Brad Hodge v Melbourne Renegades, Jan 6, 2013 (photo mine)

It was a competition full of surprises, monster sixes, and above all, some great cricket (even if there was a bit of controversy, but hey, that’s normal!)

In this review I’ll take a look at all eight teams during their ‘home & away’ campaign during their eight matches.  There was a whole lot of mayhem throughout.  On the upside, TV ratings for the Big Bash were fantastic.  The crowds were also very engaged, especially at the two Melbourne Derby clashes.

Fox Sports once again has provided us with excellent, if not biased, coverage of every game.  The insights that the likes of Damien Fleming and Brendon Julian offer is second to none.

So, without further ado, here are my eight reviews:

Melbourne Stars

A team on paper that absolutely oozes talent.  Luke, Wright, David Hussey, James Faulkner; the list goes on.  Results haven’t come as well as they wanted, however, despite the five wins.

As a loyal fan and member in BBL|02, I loved watching the “team of Victorians”, with the addition of a few extras play.  However, I have not been a fan of the ‘scrappy’ style of crash and bash cricket that seems to come out.  When they connect, oh boy, it is a nightmare for any other team.  But when it doesn’t, and they come out swinging, they’ve had a couple of really big scares.

The consistency has lacked a bit, and the bowling attack has really had to back up the batting if the score is low.  While I was mightily impressed with Glenn Maxwell, a former Melbourne Renegade, and Faulkner, Rob Quiney, and captain Shane Warne especially, didn’t do much for me.  Before the Big Bash, Warne was stating that he was bowling as well as he did when he played for Australia.  Unfortunately, that never eventuated.  Even Luke Wright, who last year clubbed 117 against the Hobart Hurricanes, couldn’t completely find his form for the whole tournament.

The one key in my mind for the Stars is to settle down and build an innings, albeit quickly.  If they could do that, then they could well be better than the Renegades.

Best Batsman: Glenn Maxwell

Best Bowler: Lasith Malinga

Sydney Thunder

A side full of talent, including Matt Prior, Chris Gayle and Dirk Nannes, never lived up to the expectations that everyone expected them too.  Capable of making 200 when on song, it took until the very last match – where Chris Gayle put on a spectacular clean hitting display – to really take it up to the rest of the teams.  For a while, the Melbourne Stars were in the firing line, but the fire was snuffed out for the Thunder.

Despite all the setbacks, the young talent blooded (Chris Tremain, Ryan Carters, Sean Abbott, Adam Zampa) was class.  All players took the initiative and really stepped up in the first few games to deliver some standout performances.  It was a simple case of being outclassed on field.  However, I do believe that those like Abbott and Carters have had a much better taste of what it is like to play top level cricket.

The Thunder will really be pushing hard in BBL|03 to make an improvement. (see my Sydney Thunder Review for more)

Best Batter: Usman Khawaja

Best Bowler: Dirk Nannes

Melbourne Renegades

Can’t really seem to find anything wrong with the Renegades.  They have played smart, intelligent and consistent cricket right throughout the competition.  The Stars may have the team of Victorians, but the Renegades, led by Aaron Finch, have stunned all comers by finishing top of the table AND two games clear.

Having recruited well for BBL|02, the team isn’t composed entirely of stars.  They have gone about playing cricket properly, waiting for their moments, and in the process crushing other teams in their path.

Ben Rohrer v Adelaide Strikers, Jan 2, 2013 (photo mine)

Everyone contributes, and while the batting list didn’t startle anyone of depth, the team worked as one to help each other.  The zeroes of BBL|01; the heroes of BBL|02.  I would not be surprised if they win the final and book their place in the CLT20.

One of the factors that impressed both myself and Renegades fans was the way the Renegades batted and handled themselves when Finch wasn’t playing, and the economy of the bowlers all-round was the clincher.  Muttiah Muralidaran and Aaron O’Brien, the ‘spin twins’ of the Renegades, was possibly the best spin combination, working in unison to deliver the results with the ball.

(see my Renegade piece on consistency for more)

Best Batsman: Aaron Finch

Best Bowler: Aaron O’Brien

Sydney Sixers

For the team who won both BBL|01 and the CLT20, it was a bit of a disappointment for the Sixers.  At a disadvantage with the likes of David Warner and Mitchell Starc on national duties, and youngster Josh Hazlewood recovering from an injury, the Sixers weren’t able to field the consistent side that won them both the first Big Bash League and then the Champions League.

Regardless, there were plenty of highlights, including international import Sunil Narine.  He was close to unplayable, and looked a genuine spinner.  Brett Lee, now 36, bowled as fast as he did at his peak, hitting 150 kph several times.

Captain Brad Haddin, who somewhat fell out of favour with the Australian selectors, went out to the middle every time with a point to prove.

Best Batsman: Brad Haddin

Best Bowler: Luke Feldman

Perth Scorchers

After failing to make a significant impact in last years CLT20, and in BBL|02 the Perth Scorchers have bounced back really well and have locked in a home final.  Although there is a little bit of heavy reliance on the top four batsman (Shaun Marsh, Herschelle Gibbs, Adam Voges, and Marcus North or Simon Katich), they have gotten the job done almost every time.

The disappointing start to the season (which included a crushing loss to the Melbourne Stars) was redeemed when they began to make inroads against defending BBL Champions the Sydney Sixers, and even knocked off eventual top of the table team the Melbourne Renegades.

Alfonso Thomas has been a massive boost for the bowling stocks.  Thomas, who moved across from the Adelaide Strikers, made a massive impact throughout the season and captured the most wickets with 12.  Combine that with the power for Shaun Marsh (328 runs at an average of 65.60) and you have a very consistent team.  Mad Scorchers fan Caelie Jones believes that while there has been some standout performances, the winning vibe has stemmed from the team working well as a whole.  Now into the finals, they have a huge chance at taking home the trophy.

One thing that can’t be skimmed over is the spin duo of Brad Hogg & Michael Beer.  The two bamboozled batsmen all-round and without a doubt clinched more than one game for Perth.  After a slide in form across the whole of West Australian cricket, the Scorchers have injected some much needed confidence.

Best Batsman: Shaun Marsh

Best Bowler: Alfonso Thomas

Adelaide Strikers

In honest words, the Strikers season started with a bang but did not finish with the flourish that many were expecting.  Boasting a side with big hitting Tim Ludeman and Nathan Reardon, and a bowling attack lead by Shaun Tait and Kane Richardson, the fire that had the Strikers vying for finals was somewhat quelled by losses to the Stars, Scorchers and Renegades (and the Scorchers by some margin).

Johan Botha, Adelaide Strikers captain in BBL|02 (photo mine)
Johan Botha, Adelaide Strikers captain in BBL|02 (photo mine)

Richardson in particular has rapidly improved with his bowling during the tournament.  Ten wickets have come with a great economy rate of 7.25, and Richardson is also capable of firing the ball in at above 140 clicks.

In the batting stocks, I’ve been very impressed with the line-up in general, but when they didn’t fire, it didn’t look good.  However, the only bad game was against the in-form Renegades, when the Strikers just could not find any sort of rhythm.  However, they haven’t dramatically capitulated in any game bar the lost in Melbourne.

It took a while for captain Michael Klinger to get going, but his 242 runs included a couple of great innings in the last couple of games.  Tim Ludeman, a relative unknown, showed just how destructive he was in delivering plenty of sixes into the Adelaide Oval construction site.  Nathan Reardon hit some enormous sixes but his impact just wasn’t felt in the back end of the competition.  Callum Ferguson, desperate for runs early, found some form in the later stages.  The fire that the Strikers started with died off in the end, and didn’t help the run to the finals.

Best Batsman: Tim Ludeman

Best Bowler: Kane Richardson

Hobart Hurricanes

Pipped at the last hurdle, the Hurricanes proved that they had the strength and squad to push for the finals.  The most underrated team in the competition, the Hurricanes started off well with a strong win against the Brisbane Heat.  However, losses in rounds two and three put them on the back foot for the rest of the competition.

Ricky Ponting in his last game in Melbourne, Dec 15, 2012 (photo mine)
Ricky Ponting in his last game in Melbourne, Dec 15, 2012 (photo mine)

A highlight for BBL|02 spectators was seeing Ricky Ponting on a “farwell run.”  His form finally showed itself, and ‘Punter’ finished with 236 runs, even bringing out his famous pull shot.

The batsmen were decent without being spectacular.  Tim Paine, out of favour with the selectors, really began to find his mark again with clever and hard-hitting batting.  English import Owais Shah also wielded the willow well, and was crucial in more than one innings finish.

The biggest disappointment for me was Travis Birt.  Renowned for clubbing the ball a country mile, Birt never really got going and did not look comfortable at the crease.

A lot of the Hurricanes damage came down to an excellent bowling attack which included Ben Laughlin and Evan Gulbis.  Laughlin is underrated, and his swing bowling picked him up a very impressive 14 wickets.  Another important factor is Laughlin’s action; it isn’t fancy, and he can get it consistently on a length (a 7.17 economy rate is very good).

I can’t fault the Hurricanes, but the reliance on the top four was a bit of a letdown.

Best Batsman: Tim Paine

Best Bowler: Ben Laughlin

Brisbane Heat

The Heat bowling attack, for the majority of BBL|02, shone over the batting.  Captain James hopes, along with burly left-hander Luke Pomersbach, and fellow batsmen Chris Lynn and Dan Christian, really took time to find their feet that nearly cost them a spot in the finals.

After copping a swathe of injury blows before the season, losing Daniel Vettori and Ryan Harris to injury, the signing of Thisara Perera was a godsend.  However, it was an on-again-off-again type of season.  Controversial umpiring, patchy batting and bowling, and the Duckworth-Lewis system were all a part of putting the Heat in a seesawing position come the final match.

In the back end of the season, though, Luke Pomersbach started to come out firing, and the Heat found themselves a new strike batsman.  Wins against the Stars and the Thunder got the team back on track.  Ben Cutting and Dan Christian (the latter of whom really couldn’t find his brutal consistency) shone for the Heat, who were without a frontline spinner for the whole competition.

On a low note, James Hopes, Heat captain, just couldn’t find the blistering all-round skills that have made him such a good domestic player.  A host of international and Australian players being rotated in and out due to national commitments didn’t help the make-up of the squad.  However, put two and two together, and the Heat displayed its very destructive capabilities. On the back of a lackluster BBL|01 the Heat were looking to really send a message that the team wasn’t a spent force; and the way the team “barged” into the finals says to me we could see an exciting semi-final.

Best Batsman: Luke Pomersbach

Best Bowler: Ben Cutting

Special thanks goes to Caelie Jones, Mitch Long, Justin Smith and Tristan Lavalette for sending me their thoughts on both the BBL and the Perth Scorchers, Brisbane Heat and Melbourne Renegades seasons (from a fan perspective)

Melbourne Stars

Sydney Thunder
Sydney Thunder (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Melbourne Renegades

Adelaide Strikers
Adelaide Strikers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Perth Scorchers
Perth Scorchers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Brisbane Heat (sourced from Google Images)
Brisbane Heat (sourced from Google Images)

Hobart Hurricanes logo

Sydney Sixers logo (sourced from Google Images)
Sydney Sixers logo (sourced from Google Images)

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2 thoughts on “Cricket: Big Bash League: Home and Away Team Reviews”

  1. Are you kidding about Glen Maxwell being the Stars’ best batsman? One good knock. Does Brad Hodge ring a bell? At 35+, he makes it look so easy…still.

    1. Look, I grant that in hindsight Hodge was probably far and above the best batsman. How he does it I don’t know.
      Yes Maxy only had one really outstanding knock, but I still enjoyed watching him bat.

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