Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Preview, Australian KFC Big Bash T20 League, 2011/12

The T20 Circus invading the Australian shores backed by a glitzy and glamorous marketing campaign makes you reminisce back to the Kerry Packer World Series Cricket revolution of the late 1970's. As back then, all the guns for hire have arrived to partake in the cricketing cash cow alongside the local stars to ensure a Tournament that will have Stadiums jam packed.


In the face of such a cricketing wham bam thank you mam extravaganza, lets us look at the teams, and the anticipated stars and highlights


The Teams:


Adelaide Strikers


Squad: 


Aiden Blizzard, Cameron Borgas, Lee Carseldine, Tom Cooper, Adam Crosthwaite, Theo Doropoulos, Brendan Drew, Callum Ferguson, Daniel Harris, Michael Klinger (c), Nathan Lyon, Aaron O’Brien, Gary Putland, Kane Richardson.
Overseas players: Kieron Pollard, Alfonso Thomas, Johan Botha.Coach: Darren Berry.



The Teams Prospects:


The team is laden with some very accomplished T20 batsmen in locals Aiden Blizzard, Daniel Harris and Tom Cooper. Then are capped of nicely by one of the most devastating T20 hitters in World Cricket in Kieron Pollard.

Sadly for the potential batting threat that is so apparent in the squad. It is undermined by a very threadbare bowling unit. That will be heavily reliant on the spinners in the line up headed up by import Johan Botha, but lacks a new ball threat. They might have to look to another overseas player in Alfonso Thomas to provide that new ball threat or conversely the precociously talented youngster Kane Richardson or Gary Putland.



Star Man: Kieron Pollard

It is a bit of a 'CaptainObvious' choice in select this devastating hitter. Though at the Adelaide Oval with it teeny tiny square boundaries, it would not surprise Pollard going at around a 200 strike rate. Depending where he bats in the line up a a 6 laden century is on the cards too



Prediction

They will worry many with their batting, but have their weak bowling fed on by the other Teams batsmen. So, an outside chance for the Semi Finals



Brisbane Heat


Squad:


Ryan Broad, Nick Buchanan, Daniel Christian, Ben Cutting, Peter Forrest, Mathew Gale, Ryan Harris, Chris Hartley, Nathan Hauritz, Matthew Hayden, James Hopes (c), Chris Lynn, Michael Neser, Steve Paulsen, Chris Swan.
Overseas players: Brendon McCullum, Daniel Vettori.
Coach: Darren Lehmann.



The Teams Prospects


If everyone in this excellent squad was fit then the Heat would be one of the favourites for the title. The injuries to potential bowling stars in Ben Cutting and Ryan Harris as well as Dan Vettori's dodgy hamstring has put a question mark against the Teams prospects. In the face of these injuries, the pressure to carry the bowling will fall on the excellent all rounders in James Hopes and Dan Christian as well as the spin of Nathan Hauritz

Off setting the questions over their bowling  is a batting line up commandeered by two of the best batsmen in T20 in Brendon McCullum and Dan Christian. As well as Matthew Hayden coming out of retirement to add to the Teams batting might. These very threatening established stars backed up by a host of precociously talented youngster headed by Chris Lynn and Peter Forrest form a very dangerous batting line up. Sadly for local fans, a batsmen who has dominated this year in Joseph Burns is not included in the squad.

Star Man: Dan Christian


An excellent T20 player with either bat or ball, and depending on his availibility for the Big Bash games due to an anticipated National call up. It is likely that he will dominate in this Tournament.

Prediction


The prospects of this team will be very dependant on the effect the National Team has on it. For if Christian, Harris and a few others that might be bolters for the Aussie Team get call ups it will rob the Team of its might. Though if they have all of the squad available for them, they are a near certainty for the Semis, and a great chance to win the Big Bash


Hobart Hurricanes


Squad


Squad: Travis Birt, Mark Cosgrove, Xavier Doherty, Luke Feldman, Evan Gulbis, Ben Hilfenhaus, Michael Hogan, Phil Jaques, Matt Johnston, Jason Krejza, Nick Kruger, Ben Laughlin, Rhett Lockyear, Tim Paine (c), Ricky Ponting.
Overseas players: Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, Owais Shah.
Coach: Ali de Winter.



The Teams Prospects:

A Squad that is distinctly lacking the star quality of the other teams. Their strength is their bowling highlighted by the T20 specialist in Pakistani import Rana-ul-Hasan, and supported by the T20 spin experts in Xavier Doherty and Jason Krejza. Supporting these three are wicket talking new ball bowlers in Ben Hilfenhaus and Michael Hogan.

If the batting can support their bowling strength, then they have an outside chance of the Semi Finals. Though in looking at the batsmen in the squad, they are talented, but distinctly lacking in T20 threat. Rhett Lockyear and Travis Birt represent the best hitters in the team with Mark Cosgrove possessing the class. Sadly the absence of Tim Paine robs the Team of a player that could have starred in this Tournament. Maybe the struggling Ricky Ponting can take a walk down memory lane and add some devastation to the batting.



Star Man: Rana-ul-Hasan

This nondescript Pakistani all rounder is on hell of a good T20 player. Whether it is bowling tight and wicket taking spells or hitting the ball into the stands. He is a seriously good player.

Prediction


Their bowling makes them a dangerous Team, that might just surprise a few of the other Star laden Teams. Though not surprise enough to make the Semi Finals



Melbourne Renegades


Squad:


Squad: Ryan Carters, Aaron Finch, Shane Harwood, Aaron Heal, Jayde Herrick, Michael Hill, Brad Hodge, Graham Manou, Glenn Maxwell, Andrew McDonald, Brenton McDonald, Dirk Nannes, Nathan Reardon, Will Sheridan, Shaun Tait.
Overseas players: Abdul Razzaq, Shahid Afridi.
Coach: Simon Helmot.



Teams Prospects:


The loss of Brad Hodge to a hamstring injury is a huge blow to this team. In his absence they have to make up for his batting prowess in the shorter forms of the game. This likely to fall on the shoulders of an excellent T20 batsmen in Aaron Finch, and the host of devastating all rounders in the line up. Highlighted by the Pakistani's Shahid Afridi and Abdul Razzaq.


If the rest of the batsmen can carry the load until Hodge is fit again then the Team is in very good shape. For they have arguably the best, and most varied bowling line up in the Big Bash. lead by the dangerous pace duo of Dirk Nannes and Shaun Tait, the wily medium pacers in Abudul Razzaq and Andrew MacDonald, and then arguably the best spinner in the shorter forms of the game in Shahid Afridi


Star Man:Shahid Afridi


The cavalier shot makers and big hitters might get all the acclaim in T20, but the Teams with the best bowlers often win the games that matter. So in Shahid Afridi, the Renegades have a bowler that is likely to be devastating in the Competition

Prediction:

If the batting can hold up in Brad Hodge's absence, then the bowling is strong enough to definitely make the Semis, and have a better than even chance of winning the Title


Melbourne Stars

Squad



Squad: George Bailey, James Faulkner, John Hastings, Jon Holland, David Hussey, Alex Keath, Clint McKay, James Pattinson, Rob Quiney, Peter Siddle, Chris Simpson, Adam Voges, Matthew Wade, Shane Warne, Cameron White (c).
Overseas players: Jade Dernbach, Luke Wright.
Coach: Greg Shipperd.



Teams Prospects


The main focus for the Stars will be on one Shane Warne, and you can bet if he bowls with his mastery from the past, and the Australia Team is still struggling. The headlines on every paper will be about how Cricket Australia needs to get Warne to make a comeback.


LOL- away from the Cricket paparazzi following Warne's every move, the rest of the Stars Squad is talent laden. Highlighted by a host of very fine local T20 batsmen in Matthew Wade, George Bailey, David Hussey and Adam Voges

The key to the teams success will be how the bowling unit support the glut of star batsmen. This is a major worry in view of Peter Siddle and James Pattinson missing most of the Big Bash due to being in the National Team. So the burden will fall on the all rounders in the line up such as James Faulkner, Clint McKay and John Hastings to be factors with the ball. A huge boost to the teams prospects will be how the imports in Jade Dernbach and Luke Wright go with the ball, and if Warne can resemble anything like he used to be.



Star Man: David Hussey


One of the best T20 players in the game, and in this Tournament you can see him dominate with the bat, and then be very valuable with the ball


Prediction:


The batting is very strong, but the bowling concerns you a tad. Though not enough to see the Team missing the Semi Finals, and being a good chance to win the Trophy


Perth Scorchers


Squad


Tom Beaton, Michael Beer, Mark Cameron, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Liam Davis, Ben Edmondson, Brad Hogg, Michael Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Simon Katich, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Marcus North (c), Nathan Rimmington, Luke Ronchi.

Imports: Paul Collingwood, Herschelle Gibbs
Teams prospects:
Injury has beset the Perth franchise robbing it of players such as the Marsh brothers, Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Coulter Nile and Marcus North. So in the face of losing those cornerstones to their Team, they might struggle a bit
The Team has a few very sneakily good imports in Paul Collingwood, and Herschelle Gibbs, both who are very accomplished players with bat in hand, and crucially in this form of the game. Both are exceptional fielders, Then assisting them will be a few old dogs in Mike Hussey and Simon Katich.
Assisting the veteran laden line up are two exceptional youngsters in the very talented all rounder in Mitch Marsh and then the aggressive opener Liam Davis. Look for both to show their class in these games with some dominating displays.

The main worry for the team will be its bowling attack, that looks very thin. It will rely on the likes of Ben Edmondson and Nathan Rimmington leading the pace attack, and Michael Beer and Brad Hogg supporting them with their spin. Mitch Marsh's very decent medium pace will support them, but its doubtful whether their bowling is strong enough to threaten other Teams batting line ups
Star Man: Mitch Marsh

The 20 year old has everything to be a star in all forms of the game. A very classy elegant top order batsman, and then a medium pacer that can get the ball through at 140 kms. Much of the Scorchers hopes will rest on his shoulders

Prediction:

They have a very fragile bowling unit, and that will see them struggle in this version of the Big Bash. So in my mind they are outsiders to make the Semi Finals.

Sydney Sixers

Squad



Ed Cowan, Pat Cummins, Brad Haddin (c), Josh Hazlewood, Moises Henriques, Brett Lee, Stuart MacGill, Nic Maddinson, Ian Moran, Peter Nevill, Steve O’Keefe, Ben Rohrer, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, Dominic Thornely, Shane Watson.
Overseas players: Dwayne Bravo, Michael Lumb.
Coach: Trevor Bayliss.



Teams prospects:


The injury to Pat Cummins, and his subsequent absence from the whole of the Big Bash robs the Tournament of one of its real draw card. As well as depriving the Sixers of one hell of a fine T20 bowler.


His absence deprives the Team of one of its true game changers, but their is still quality in abundance in the Squad. The batting lacks the stand out maulers of other Teams, but could be transformed by the imports in Dwayne Bravo and Michael Lumb. Both, who have had pasts of being wrecking balls in the shortest forms of the game. The battings success could be heavily dependant on how many games Shane Watson and Brad Haddin get to play due to International commitments. In particular Watson, if he can partake in a few games his pedigree as a hitter could be decisive


The bowling in Cummins absence has gone from stellar to being work manlike. The burden to lead the attack will now rest on Josh Hazelwood and Mitchell Starc in combination with a Brett Lee lacking the pace from his hey day. The glut of all rounders will assist this trio lead by the wily Bravo, and the equally refined Moises Henriques, and then the spin duo of Stuart MacGill and Steve O'Keefe is indeed very handy


Star Man: Moises Henriques
This young all rounder was touted as a future Australian all rounder from a young age, and though he has not lived up to that billing as yet. He is a very talented medium fast bowler, and skilled batsman that can hit with the best of them


Prediction


The loss of Cummins is a huge blow, and the Squad being affected by losing players to the National Team will be telling. Though in spite of all this it would be a huge surprise if the Sixers did not make the Semi Finals.

Sydney Thunder

Squad:

Sean Abbott, Tim Armstrong, Nic Bills, Doug Bollinger, Luke Butterworth, Scott Coyte, Tim Cruickshank, Matthew Day, Luke Doran, Ben Dunk, Jason Floros, Usman Khawaja, Craig Philipson, Daniel Smith, David Warner (c).
Imports: Fidel Edwards, Chris Gayle.
Teams Prospects:
More than a few mouths will be watering at the prospect of seeing arguably the two most devastating batsmen in T20 Cricket in Chris Gayle and Dave Warner be the opening partnership for the Thunder. If they have a day where they both click together....my word you might see near on 250 scored in one of these games!

They are indeed the superstars of this Team, but herein lies the biggest issue for the Thunder. In respect to the Team will have a huge reliance on them both to fire because of the lack of quality in the rest of the Team. This becomes a huge issue when you realise that Warner will be in the Australian team for most of the summer depriving the Thunder of his services.
For the team to have a hope, the bowling needs to be carried by Doug Bollinger and the underrated Luke Butterworth. As well as Fidel Edwards proving his worth with the ball as one of the Teams imports.
The batting outside of the dream opening partnership will rely on Usman Khawaja to contribute and Daniel Smith to be the big hitting factor that we know he can be in T20
Star Man: Chris Gayle

Expect plenty of balls into the crowd, some very decent spin, and cool as a cucumber catching in the slips from the coolest cat in World Cricket

Prediction:


I think they are heavily reliant on a few players to carry them, and this will ultimately mean they will miss out on the Semis in one of the shocks of the Tournament


Who Will Win the Tournament?


In my mind the teams are very evenly matched, so I think how much the National team impacts on the respective Teams will be decisive in the Team that wins the trophy.

Keeping this in mind, I think the Melbourne Renegades, that is already full of T20 stars will benefit from the least distractions, and duly will win the Big Bash

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