It’s currently summer “Down Under” and that means it’s time for everyone to get their cricketing willows out along with the stumps. Australia is currently playing host to India through a 4 match test series that runs all the way until the 10th of January 2015. This series was preceded by the unfortunate death of Australian cricketer Phillip Hughes. Needless to say, this summer is going to be remembered for his passing on the field no matter what the outcome is for the Aussies against India.
India’s tour is not the only cricketing attraction this summer thanks to the KFC Twenty20 Big Bash League, which will take place in parallel to the ongoing Test Series between Australia and India. The Big Bash League will provide more entertaining and less exhausting cricket action through Twenty20 cricket, which should be great for those who don’t have the stomach or the patience to watch Test Cricket.
The KFC Twenty20 Big Bash League
The Big Bash League came into existence in 2011. It was the immediate successor to the KFC T20 Big Bash in that while the former is being played by eight city-based franchisees, the latter had six teams from the six Australian states. This new format has been more successful because the chosen cities are the traditional hotbeds of cricket in Australia and also have all the necessary infrastructure to support a world class league.
The format of the league is derived from the vastly popular Indian Premier League (IPL). While the IPL has several million followers, Australia being well, Australia, the viewership isn’t quite as high but popularity has been increasing. The league also carries importance because the two finalists qualify for the Champions League Twenty20 Tournament; therefore it would be wrong to consider this tournament an unimportant or an inconsequential one.
The average attendance from the previous edition of the Big Bash League was 18,778 per match. That in itself is no small number especially since the competition has to compete with the ongoing test matches during its initial stages for viewers. Furthermore, just about a million people tuned in to watch every match live on television. The final was the most lucrative match for the sponsors as 1.5 million people were glued to the couch to watch the match between the Perth Scorchers and Hobart Hurricanes for the trophy.
The Perth Scorchers are the most successful of the teams in the tournament to date as a result of their three consecutive final appearances. The Sydney Sixers and Brisbane Heat were crowned the champions in the inaugural and second editions respectively followed by the Perth Scorchers last year.
※ The odds beside each team name are the odds of winning the tournament outright.
Adelaide Strikers: Unibet: 7.50; Betclic: 8.00
The Adelaide Strikers are a typical mid-table team; however given the unpredictability of 20 overs cricket, it would be a safe assumption to say that they have what it takes to beat any team when things are going their way.
34 year-old Michael Klinger was their most capped player and had in excess of 600 runs in his career but has now left for greener pastures. With Klinger’s departure, they are now relying on Brad Hodge to be the team’s spark plug.
How will the team respond to the passing of Phillip Hughes who averaged an amazing 45 runs a match and scored a total of 1110 runs? Will his memory inspire and lead the team to bigger and better things in this edition?
Unibet Best Batsman Odds: Brad Hodge: 3.25; Craig Simmons: 3.50
Unibet Best Bowler Odds: Ben Laughlin: 3.25; Kane Richardson: 4.25
Brisbane Heat: Unibet: 7.50; Betlic: 7.50
The champions of the second edition of the Big Bash League are expected to make another long run in this year’s tournament. However for that to happen, their local talent needs to shine along with the likes of Daniel Vettori.
Mitchell Johnson and Shane Watson are without a doubt the Australian stars on the team. English all-rounder Andrew Flintoff is the latest addition and could possibly have a say in the results as well.
Unibet Best Batsman Odds: Chris Lynn: 4.00; Joe Burns: 4.50
Unibet Best Bowler Odds: Samuel Badree: 3.25; Cameron Gannon: 4.00
Hobart Hurricanes: Unibet: 6.50; Betlic: 6.00
One of the most star studded line-ups in the league belongs to the Hobart Hurricanes. Tim Paine will be playing along with the likes of Bailey, Darren Sammy, Cameron Boyce, Ben Hilfenhaus as well as Ben Dunk.
Unibet Best Batsman Odds: Ben Dunk: 3.75; Alex Hales: 4.50
Unibet Best Bowler Odds: Cameron Boyce: 4.00; Sam Rainbird: 4.50
Melbourne Renegades: Unibet: 6.50; Betclic: 7.50
Their record might not be as good as some of the other teams, however with fantastic players like James Pattinson playing alongside Peter Siddle, Dwayne Bravo and Aaron Finch, no one should discount the Melbourne Renegades. With West-Indian Andre Russell becoming the latest all-rounder to join the team, you can be sure they will be a force to be reckoned with once play begins.
Unibet Best Batsman Odds: Aaron Finch: 3.25; Jesse Ryder: 4.50
Unibet Best Bowler Odds: Fawad Ahmad: 4.00; Nathan Rimmington: 4.25
Melbourne Stars: Unibet: 4.50; Betclic: 4.00
Undoubtedly the most consistent team since the inception of the Big Bash League, the Melbourne Stars are the favorites according to the bookmakers no matter where you check. And rightfully so because of the fact that they have some of the best players in Kevin Pieterson, Cameron White, James Faulkner, and the one and only David Hussey.
Unibet Best Batsman Odds: Cameron White: 3.50; Luke Wright/Kevin Pietersen: 4.00
Unibet Best Bowler Odds: Jackson Bird: 3.75; James Faulkner: 4.50
Perth Scorchers: Unibet: 7.00; Betclic: 6.50
This is a team that you can never count out as long as their hopes of winning are alive ever so slightly. They have been one of the strongest teams since the Big Bash League was inaugurated and are right behind the Melbourne Stars as the favorites to claim the trophy.
With players like Shaun Marsh, Simon Katich, Michael Klinger, Dwayne Smith, Mitchell Marsh, Yasir Arafat, and Brad Hogg, the Scorchers are set to light it up in the knock-out rounds of the competition.
Unibet Best Batsman Odds: Shaun Marsh: 3.75; Michael Klinger: 4.00
Unibet Best Bowler Odds: Yasir Arafat: 4.00; Jason Behrendorff: 4.25
Sydney Sixers: Unibet: 7.50; Betclic: 7.50
The better team from Sydney is certainly the Sixers. They won the first edition back in 2012 against all odds, and despite a mediocre performance the following year, they were back with a bang in last year’s campaign. This year should be no different unless they stumble out of the gates as they did in their title defense in 2012-13.
Relying upon their bowling more so than their batting, Nathan Lyon, Brett Lee, and Mitchell Starc will have to come through for them to be competitive. With the bat, Michael Lumb, Nic Maddison, and Marcus Silk will all have to contribute along with Brad Haddin as well as Moises Henriques.
Unibet Best Batsman Odds: Nic Maddinson: 3.50; Michael Lumb: 4.00
Unibet Best Bowler Odds: Mitchell Starc: 4.00; Josh Hazlewood: 4.25
Sydney Thunder: Unibet: 11.00; Betclic: 12.00
The worst performing team of all time in the Big Bash League has got to be the minnows of Sydney. The Sydney Thunder have not been able to rise from the basement of the league table for a single season, constantly owning 8th place.
Their fortune doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon either because of a lack of quality signings; however they have a few players who can change a particular match on a given day like Proteas’s legendary Jack Kallis. But even with Kallis, the Thunder may not have enough firepower to go the distance.
Add to it that their most prominent player in Michael Clarke is busy with India Tests and hasn’t signed. Same goes for cricketer David Warner, which means that Michael Hussey and Eoin Morgan have a lot of weight to carry in the tournament for the Thunder along with Dirk Nannes, the team’s most important bowler.
Unibet Best Batsman Odds: Mike Hussey: 3.50; Usman Khawaja: 4.00
Unibet Best Bowler Odds: Patrick Cummins: 4.00; Gurinder Sandhu: 4.25
When it comes to the outright winner of the Big Bash League, there seems to be no second opinions among the bookmakers with the Melbourne Stars slated as the clear winner on every betting website including「Unibet」and「Betclic」. While Unibet offers odds in favor of the Stars at 4.50, Betclic has them at 4.00.
Since T20 is such a tight competition where the margin of victory is always a few runs or a couple of wickets, all of the outright odds are closely contested.「Betclic」has the Hobart Hurricanes as the best candidate to become this campaign’s runner-up and given their record, they deserve it all the same. Last year’s champions in the Perth Scorchers are offered on at odds of 6.50 to be the third best team and as such are sure-shot semi-finalists.
The Brisbane Heat, Melbourne Renegades, and the Sydney Sixers have equal chances of winning the Big Bash League according to「Betclic」with each coming in at 7.50.
The Adelaide Strikers and Sydney Thunder have the highest odds of the teams in the tournament and their records do little in contradicting those assumptions. While the Strikers have odds of 8.00 for winning the BBL, the Sydney Thunder are everyone’s favorite to stay where they have been for the past three seasons: 8th place i.e. the pit.
The 2013-14 season saw the Melbourne Stars reach the semi-finals once again. The Sydney Sixers, Perth Scorchers and Hobart Hurricanes occupied the remaining three places for the semi-finals. Of those four only the Hurricanes and Stars were able to maintain a positive net run rate. Even though that was the case, the Scorchers and Hurricanes made it to the final played on February 7th at WACA Perth where the former won by 39 runs.
The current season begins once again with the familiar round robin stage followed by the knockout rounds leading up to the final. However for the first time, the final will not be played at the WACA but at the Manuka Oval in the capital city of Canberra.
Ben Dunk averaged an amazing 43 runs per match in the last Big Bash League and was named the “Player of the Tournament”. He is expected to hit the ground running this time around as well. However, Luke Wright will have a thing or two to say about that. Klinger is also expected to contest in terms of runs scored.
Highest Wicket Takers
The Brisbane Heat and Hobart Hurricanes arguably have the best bowling line-ups in the league closely followed by the Melbourne Renegades and Sydney Sixers. Unlike the season before it, the last edition of the Big Bash League didn’t witness any 5 wicket hauls. However there were quite a few 4 wicket a match performances including one from veteran Brett Lee, who is still going strong. But with that said, T20 is too unpredictable to choose the best pick for highest wicket taker. James Pattinson would have to be a safe bet though. Dirk Nannes and Faulkner also can be expected to take advantage of the conditions.
Given that there is a clear cut line between the best teams and the worst teams in the Big Bash League, it is easy to separate the same. However, that is not the case when the teams in the middle of the pack are considered.
The Melbourne Stars are the clear favorites to lift the Big Bash League T20 trophy in the final at Canberra. Furthermore, it is a safe assumption to believe that the Sydney minnows that happen to be the Sydney Thunder will continue to be at the bottom of the table considering the players they have lost and also the ones that have replaced them.
Also don’t be surprised if there is an upset or two in the tournament. 20 overs cricket is known for being unpredictable and even though the Melbourne Stars have been deemed the favorites, they are not unbeatable by any means. Considering the players that have been signed, lookout for the Adelaide Strikers and Melbourne Renegades to stir the pot with a potential upset during league play.
Now all that is left is to sit back, relax, and enjoy all the cricket action!