It has felt like any team could win on its day during BBL07, but there is a gap developing between the top four and the rest. All of Adelaide, the Renegades, Brisbane and Perth have won four or more games and while Hobart got back within two points with a win against the Sixers, the remaining three franchises have collected no more than two wins and possess negative net run rates. There appears to be a gulf developing and unless the lower sides start producing some favourable results, we could be presented with the home and away rounds ending with a potential succession of dead rubbers. In saying that, it is very tight up the top and the fight for home finals is likely to go down to the wire.
STRIKERS ($1.75) VS STARS ($2.10)
AT THE ADELAIDE OVAL, TUESDAY 09/01, 19:40
The Adelaide Strikers are beginning to challenge Perth as the best total defender in the Big Bash. The Striker’s bowlers are in a good place mentally and you’d think they’d have no problem curtailing a Stars outfit drained of confidence.
HEAT ($1.60) VS HURRICANES ($2.35)
AT THE GABBA, WEDNESDAY 10/01, 19:40
In a big loss to both the Big Bash and Australian ODI team, Chris Lynn will miss the next three to four weeks of cricket with a calf injury. He sustained the injury fielding during the Heat’s brilliant 49 run win against Perth, which certainly soured a perfect night to that point. Lynn and McCullum got off to another flier, with a partnership of 59 off 33 balls setting the tone. While there were slower periods during the middle overs, a swashbuckling innings of 46 off 20 balls from Ben Cutting jolted the score to an impressive 6/191. The Heat backed it up with their most complete bowling performances of the season as Ben Doggett took five wickets and Steketee three, while Shah and Swepson played important roles also.
The Hobart Hurricanes have stayed in touch with the top four after a win against the Sixers that went to the death. A total of 6/170 had many contributors and was always going to be tough to chase, but a Sam Billings master class almost stole the game. Needing 22 off the last over, Hobart looked home and hosed, especially after just four off the first three balls. Billings would the hit consecutive maximums to make the equation six off one ball. Tymal Mills had a poor start to the season, but had recovered to an extent to figures of 2/28 at the start of the over. It was a make or break BBL moment for Mills, but a short ball outside off was enough to see Billings miss and get the Hurricanes the win.
The loss of Lynn certainly makes Brisbane a less desirable prospect. I’m not convinced it should be so short and happy to wait and see what they look like without Lynn in the top order.
BRISBANE HEAT TO WIN BY 5-10 RUNS/4 WICKETS
THUNDER ($) VS SCORCHERS ($)
AT SPOTLESS STADIUM 11/01, 19:40
Having played six of its ten games, the Thunder is now four points and significant net run rate outside the top four. It has only won two games and has too much reliance on too few. The bowling has been good enough, with the likes of McClenaghan , Green, Fawad and Nair holding their own. But too much has been left to Buttler and Watson at the top of the order and the pressure to keep striking at a high rate has been too great. Patterson and Ferguson have looked in promising touch, but use up too many deliveries, while the middle to lower order lacks depth. They are losing touch with the challengers.
The Scorchers produced one of its worst bowling performances of the competition on Monday night, conceding 71 runs in the final five overs. Tom Cooper’s strategy to ramp Richardson and Tye left Perth with no answers, as three of his paddle shots cleared the fence. A chase of 186 started poorly with Michael Klinger out for a golden duck, but an 87 run stand between Willey and Turner got the Scorchers back in the game. Turner in particular was spectacular, smashing 70 from 32 balls, proving again he is on the verge of stardom. With the help of a vital 26 not out from Agar late, Perth chased the target with a ball to spare and jump a game clear with a fifth win.
The Scorchers haven’t been at their best in recent matches with the ball, but it will still possess too much bowling nous for a Thunder outfit that looks like nothing more than a back runner for BBL07.
PERTH SCORCHERS TO WIN BY 15-20/5 WICKETS
RENEGADES ($) VS STARS ($)
AT ETIHAD STADIUM, FRIDAY 12/01, 19:40
The Melbourne Renegades have had an up and down week, easily overcoming the Stars before falling to an eighth consecutive loss to the Scorchers. It turned the table on a usually more competitive rival in the Stars, romping home to a six wicket victory with 13 balls to spare. Afghani Mohammad Nabi was the game breaker, firstly with disciplined figures of 1/27 off four overs, before a promotion to No.4 in the batting order produced a 27 ball half century. He thrived off the opportunity and licence to swing the bat, further proving the dangerous depth the Renegades possess with willow in hand. The trip to Perth started well too, as the Gades posted a great total of 3/185 on the back of a patience Cam White and ramp happy Tom Cooper. The early wicket of Klinger shortened their price further, but a brilliant innings of 70 from 32 balls from Ashton Turner (helped by a Brad Hogg drop) completely turned the game.
The MCG derby showed exactly where the two teams are at currently and I expect the Renegades to be further advantaged by the Etihad Stadium conditions.
MELBOURNE RENEGADES TO WIN BY 20-25 RUNS/6 WICKETS