Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Who Will Win the Australian KFC Big Bash T20 League?

The first version of the revamped Australian Big Bash T20 League has presented us with a tournament full of devastating batting blitzes, revered bowling efforts and an opportunity for all to bask in the genius of a few 'golden oldies'


As we sit on the verge of the Final with 5 games left we have three Teams in the Perth Scorchers, Hobart Hurricanes and Sydney Sixers assured of a spot. The last spot in the top 4 is occupied by the Melbourne Stars, who only need to win their last game against the lowly Adelaide Strikers to assure their chance to win the prize. If they lose, and the Melbourne Renegades win both their remaining games they can replace their Melbourne neighbours in the top 4.


The points table, and remaining games are as follows:



TeamsMatWonLostTiedN/RPtsNet RRForAgainst
Perth Scorchers6510010+0.731886/113.3849/120.0
Hobart Hurricanes642008+0.6441001/118.4935/120.0
Sydney Sixers642008+0.304791/104.1752/103.1
Melbourne Stars633006+0.175894/108.1867/107.1
Adelaide Strikers624004-0.289896/120.0919/118.3
Sydney Thunder624004-0.592710/103.0736/98.2
Melbourne Renegades523004-0.685672/85.5745/87.3
Brisbane Heat514002-0.584796/100.0843/98.4




Thu Jan 12
          
08:00 GMT | 19:00 local
16:00 WST 18:30 CST 19:00 EST
Melbourne Renegades v Brisbane Heat
Docklands Stadium, Melbourne
Showers 13 - 22° C 
Tue Jan 17          
08:30 GMT | 18:30 local
16:30 WST 19:00 CST 19:30 EST
Brisbane Heat v Sydney Thunder
Brisbane Cricket Ground, Woolloongabba, Brisbane
Scattered Thunderstorms 20 - 27° C 
Wed Jan 18
05:00 GMT | 16:00 local
13:00 WST 15:30 CST 16:00 EST
Hobart Hurricanes v Melbourne Renegades
Bellerive Oval, Hobart

N/A
Wed Jan 18          
08:00 GMT | 19:00 local
16:00 WST 18:30 CST 19:00 EST
Sydney Sixers v Perth Scorchers
Sydney Cricket Ground

N/A
Thu Jan 19          
08:00 GMT | 19:00 local
16:00 WST 18:30 CST 19:00 EST
Melbourne Stars v Adelaide Strikers
Melbourne Cricket Ground

N/A
Fri Jan 20          1st semi-final - TBC v TBC (1 v 4)
Venue TBC

N/A
Sat Jan 21          2nd semi-final - TBC v TBC (2 v 3)
Venue TBC

N/A
Sat Jan 28          Final - TBC v TBC
Venue TBC

N/A
Duly as the Tournaments gets to its cutting edge stage lets look at the merits of the Teams still in the race for the title.


Perth Scorchers
Herschelle Gibbs-Master Blaster!
The success of the Perth based Team has been facilitated by the balance within its line up. They have a Team primed for success in T20 with a very well performed and diverse opening partnership of the cavalier stroke maker Herschelle Gibbs and the more resolute Marcus North propelling the team with great starts. Lurking behind these two is the precociously talented all-rounder Mitch Marsh at 3, who is showing that he is one of the purest big hitters in the game with power all around the wicket.


Their bowling has been exceptional with a perfect mix between pace and swing. The young paceman Nathan Coulter-Nile has been getting better each game with him putting in a real master class with the ball in getting 3/9 off his 4 overs last night. He is ably supported by the miserly Nathan Rimmington, who not only puts a strangle on the scoring rates but also takes valuable wickets. Onto the spin department lead by the wily old returning veteran Brad Hogg, who has dominated in this Tournament with 8 wickets at an average of 15.37 with an economy rate of 5.59.


Key Men


Herschelle Gibbs


The South African import has been nothing short of stellar in his devastation at the top of the order. Giving the team great starts with his breath taking shot making ability that combines traditional excellence with real powers of innovation. His nice easy power that rockets the ball into the stands make him one very dangerous player that all Teams need to control


Nathan Coulter-Nile


I was tempted to put the 'sheepdog' Brad Hogg as being the key man in the bowling unit, but much of his success has been facilitated by the excellence of the pacemen. Allowing him to bowl to batsmen under the pump. This young quick has been excellent in his economy and ability to get batsmen out. Most notably real dangermen who are set as we saw with Chris Gayle last night. If he can continue with that pedigree in the rest of the tournament the Scorchers are a huge chance to win the Trophy.


Mitchell Marsh


A batsman of real burgeoning genius that can smash the ball as far as anyone, and then a skilled medium fast bowler that can ramp it up to 140kms


A recipe for a huge factor in all games to come!


My Thoughts


As the Table stands now they are scheduled to face the Melbourne Stars in the Semi Final. I think in truth that is the 'Final' with the winner being the Team that will take out the trophy. The game will be on the Scorchers home turf making allowing them the  advantage, but the Stars are getting better all the time and looking deadly dangerous..


Duly, I think against the odds the Stars will take the Scorchers out in the Semis


Hobart Hurricanes
Naveed-ul-Hasan- Cult Hero!
The pleasant surprise in the Tasmanian franchise the Hurricanes had their chances evaporated by losing Ben Hilfenhaus to the National Team. A bowler who was devastating in his first game, and would have provided the team with the bowling Xfactor that could have lead the Team to a remarkable win in the tournament.


He might be able to represent the team in the Semi Final, but be absent for the Final if they make it. Which makes the team a bit thin on the ground when it comes to their bowling. All the bowlers having economy rates abover 7.30 run per over making them fragile to blitzes from batting line ups. 


The other side of the game they are quite strong being commandeered by the brutal hitting of Travis Birt, who has averaged 51.50 with a strike rate of 177.58. He has an able offsider in the English import Owais Shah who has been excellent in both his run production and ability to devastate.


Travis Birt


Brutal pure hitter, that provides the Team with that real batting Xfactor. He has power all around the wicket and after his performances in this years Big Bash you can be assured of seeing his name appear in the Australian National T20 Team. Crucially for the Team to have a chance to win he must provide that batting threat to lift the rest of the mostly ho hum batting unit


Naveed-ul-Hasan


This eccentric Pakistani quick is the cult hero of the Tasmanian faithful.


You can see why they love him as well with him again leading the bowling with his Competition best 14 wickets at an average of 13.42.


If the team is to win, they need further master classes from their adopted Pakistani son


Xavier Doherty


The respected spinner has been a success in his wicket taking ability, but has struggled with his economy rate this year. If he can put a strangle on the scoring rates in the remaining games it will be a huge fillip for the Team going forward.


My Thoughts


I love the fact that the Hobart Team has done so well, but I cannot see them prevailing against any of the Teams currently in the top 4 in a Semi Final. 


Which means an early exit from the Finals


Sydney Sixers
Stuart MacGill- True Master!
The Team if they had a full compliment of stars would be one of the favourites to win it. Though the loss of Brad Haddin and Mitchell Starc to the National Team as well as the injury to Josh Hazelwood are huge blows. Then the coup de gras of hits was the return of the maverick match winners Dwayne Bravo to the Caribbean to play in their local T20 League.


Part of the hurt of these loses has been taken away by the return to fitness of the excellent spinner Steve O Keefe, but not enough to make you think that the Teams still is a viable option to win.


The key to pulling off a shock win has to come from an excellent bowling attack lead by a raft of quality spinners carrying the Team. Old Man River Stuart MacGill has blitzed in his return, and you can expect the returning Steve OKeefe to form a lethal spin duo with the leggie. Also, another of the returning relics in Brett Lee has been a very fine performers, and needs to continue with his form to help lift the trophy.


Key Men


Steve O'Keefe


A very fine T20 spinner that will make a huge difference to the Team. That in some small way will offset the loses of other players.


He has to be at his best to help the Team have a chance to win


Michael Lumb


As we have seen in his crucial part in the English T20 World Cup win, this devastating batsman can give Team blistering starts. If he can rediscover that form, and find a purple patch with his batting in the Finals he would transform the rather pedestrian batting line up with his batting threat.


Stuart MacGill


Breath takingly talented leg spin bowler that would have been considered a great in Test Cricket if not for his career happening at the same time as the immortal Shane Warne


In this Tournament, he has shown batsmen who thought they were the foxes, that he is indeed the foxes tail in outwitting all of them


My Thoughts


They might make the Final, but cannot see them having enough depth of talent in their batting to win the Tournament.


Melbourne Stars.
All Hail Shane Warne!
In my view the most complete Team with a abundance of diverse quality and threat.


They have an excellent batting line up lead by the likes of Dave Hussey, Matthew Wade and Rob Quiney, and then the Shane Warne inspired bowling unit. That has the likes of young guns in James Faulkner and Clint McKay playing very fine support roles.


Crucially for the team that has been getting better with every match is them  not suffering the effect of loses of players to the National Team, injury or commitments elsewhere.


Though a hammer blow could come if Matthew Wade is called up to the National Team for the 4th Test in the time of the Finals....


Key Men


Shane Warne


LOL- he is either still a Master or the batting standard is very low.


For it has been hilarious in every game that he has played. That before every ball he has been giving commentary as he runs in supporting the coverage on Fox Sports, but still has averaged 17.85 with 7 wickets...


Making us all wonder how long will it be before Warney gets asked the predictable question from the Cricket Crazy Australian public


'Will you come out of retirement to rejoin the Test Team?'


David Hussey


One of the best and most complete T20 players.


Lethal with his massacring batting and very handy with his tight, wicket taking spin.


A huge factor in the teams prospects


Cam White


The Australia T20 Captain has been in dreadful form, but as the old saying goes- 'form is temporary with class being permanent'


So if he rediscovers the form that made him one of the most destructive batsmen in the shorter forms of the game. 


Start adorning the Trophy with the Stars ribbons now.


My Thoughts


They are near certain of a Semi Final appointment with the Scorchers away in Perth that will be a tough match to pick the winner out of.


I just think that the Stars will prevail in what is the likely 'defacto final', and once they do this they will win the Trophy with a romp in the Final


Melbourne Renegades


My pick to win the Trophy before the start of the Big Bash, but they have been a huge disappointment, and though they have an outside chance of making the Finals.


It is in truth a snowballs chance in Hell, and I am not a fan of miracles


To Make it:


Melbourne Stars need to loss their last match against the Adelaide Strikers- which could happen, but you cannot see the professional Stars unit letting that game slip


Then the Renegades need to win their last two matches against the Hobart Hurricanes and Brisbane Heat. I cannot see this happening with a real banana peel being against a Heat line up that will be determined to salvage something from their disastrous campaign

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