Welcome to the Round 1 preview of BBL06. The glitz, glamour and hard hitting of the Big Bash is back. The international season had struggled to gain the attention of the cricket public after poor Australian results early, but the Big Bash is sure to produce a more exciting spectacle. It is faster paced, more family friendly and a consistently more entertaining product. The first five seasons have been a raging success and that trend is set to continue.
The first few matches of the Big Bash are always difficult to predict, as there has been no form lines to assess for 11 months. It can also be difficult to know exactly what structures the franchises are going to run with until the first one-two games are completed. All we can go by is individual state form, trial games, media and our cricket instincts. In saying that, there can be value at this time of the year with odds heavily focused on last season’s results and an exaggeration to list changes. It is a tough few games to identify a solid best bet, but there are some attractive odds.
Sydney Sixers to defeat the Sydney Thunder @ $1.92 Head to Head.
SYDNEY THUNDER ($2.06) VS SYDNEY SIXERS ($1.92)
AT SPOTLESS STADIUM, TUESDAY 20/12, 19:40 (local)
Reigning champion the Sydney Thunder get an early opportunity to prove it is the team to beat again against cross-town rival the Sixers at Spotless Stadium to open the new Big Bash season. It is a different looking line up to the one that raised the trophy last January though, with the then big four of Hussey, Kallis, Khawaja and Watson all out of the side. Eoin Morgan is the new international and has been named, but there will be a heavy reliance on youngsters like Patterson, Doran and Gibson to fill the void. Hopefully it means we get to see Andre Russell elevated up the order. The bowling attack looks outstanding though, with Russell, McKay, Fawad, Sandhu and the returning Patrick Cummins all named in the squad.
Despite the absence of the Australian Test players, the Sydney Sixers have managed to name a very strong squad. Moises Henriques has managed to recover in time from injury for this opening encounter and will captain the side. The most interesting aspect of this Sixers outfit is the inclusions of promising Englishmen Jason Roy and Sam Billings to the top order. Both are hard strikers of the ball and will determine the Sixers early success. The bowling attack also possesses a lot of international experience despite the Test squad absentees, with Bollinger, Botha, O’Keefe, Abbott and Mennie all named to take on the Thunder.
The Thunder have taken an enormous hit to its batting order with Khawaja and Watson both unavailable. The Sixers appear to possess a more balanced side and look value at $1.92 head to head.
Prediction: Sixers to win by 15-20 runs/6 wickets
ADELAIDE STRIKERS ($1.80) VS BRISBANE HEAT ($2.00)
AT ADELAIDE OVAL, WEDNESDAY 21/12, 19:10 (local)
The Adelaide Strikers have been by far the best performed home and away side over the last two seasons and will be looking to make an early statement against the Heat at home. Captain Brad Hodge already appears hungry for team and individual success, starting the Strikers campaign on fire with 70 runs from 44 deliveries in the franchise’s recent practice game. That game also saw new recruit Ben Dunk back in the runs, smashing a 50 in his first appearance for Adelaide. If the top order big hitters fire for Adelaide, it could possess one of the most feared line ups with Pollard, Head, Ludeman and Simmons in the squad. All can hit the ball a very long way.
Brisbane ended the BBL05 in good fashion by winning three of its last four matches and must somehow carry that momentum on to this season. It has started well, winning its two practice games against the Hobart Hurricanes last week on the Sunshine Coast. It scraped through for a win on the Friday in the final over, chasing down a competitive 155 set by Hobart. It dominated Saturday encounter though, posting 6-188 to win by 48 runs. Peirson’s 65 was the highlight, but Ross and Floros also made impressive contributions. It will be interesting to see if Brisbane can bring its winning ways to Adelaide.
Brisbane’s batting order looks strong with Lynn, McCullum and Burns all named, but the bowling still appears weak. Despite the Heat’s impressive practice form, Adelaide’s squad looks extremely balanced and it is always tough to beat at home.
Prediction: Adelaide to win by 15-20 runs/6 wickets
MELBOURNE RENEGADES ($1.70) VS SYDNEY THUNDER ($2.15)
AT ETIHAD STADIUM, THURSDAY 22/12 (local)
There are some high expectations for the Melbourne Renegades to have its best Big Bash season to date after a spin targeted off season recruitment spree. Sunil Narine and Brad Hogg will make their debuts for the Renegades on Thursday night, but the spin experiment didn’t start well in a recent practice game against the Stars. Hogg and Doherty went for a combined 84 runs in seven overs, as Maxwell and Quiney hit the two former Australian internationals to all areas. Although the Etihad surface is likely to be far more suitable to slow bowling than the road at Trinity. Excluding Wade and Siddle, the Renegades will be close to full strength with James Pattinson returning from injury.
The Sydney Thunder have to back up again after just two nights, so closely assess its performance against the Sixers and confirm the squad before committing to the BBL05 champs in this game. Before its opening match against the Sixers, the Thunder produced a comfortable six wicket victory in a practice game against a Bangladeshi invitational XI last Friday night. Cummins, Sandhu and McKay proved just how dangerous they could become together by collecting early wickets, before the Bangladesh side was restricted to a below par 123. The Sixers chased the total with ease, as Eoin Morgan anchored the innings with a patient 33.
The Renegades must start well before Finch leaves for likely Australian duties ODI in early January. It has a strong side and should count for a Thunder squad that looks vulnerable early in the tournament.
Prediction: Renegades to win by 10-15 runs/5 wickets
SYDNEY SIXERS ($1.70) VS HOBART HURRICANES ($2.15)
AT THE SCG, FRIDAY 23/12, 18:10 (local)
Like the Thunder, the Sydney Sixers back up for a second round one encounter so ensure you have a look at the opening match before betting on Friday night. The Sixers produced an impressive batting performance during its final practice hit out against Hong Kong last week, smashing an impressive 210 from its 20 overs. Billings and Hughes both hit fast half centuries against weak opposition, but it was the batting order that created most interest. Henriques joined Roy at the top of the order, followed by Billings and Haddin at No.4. Hughes came in at five and could become one of the finds of the year, after also hitting 82 for Northern Districts in the Sydney Grade T20 Final.
The Hobart Hurricanes didn’t have the most ideal lead in preparation to BBL06, losing both its practice games against Brisbane on the Sunshine Coast. While the first match went down to the final over, the Heat always appeared in control of Hobart’s bowling attack. The second encounter was a little uglier though, as the Canes’ conceded a hefty 188. While Kingston and Tait took three wickets each, Hobart appeared to lack depth with the ball. The obvious highlight of the two games was George Bailey, who plundered a combined 122 runs from 62 balls. He will be the key ingredient to any BBL06 Hurricane success.
The opening Sixers game could change plenty here, but the men in magenta have a stronger team on paper. Obviously, don’t commit until after its clash with the Thunder.
Prediction: Sydney Sixers to win by 20-25 runs/7 wickets
PERTH SCORCHERS ($1.70) VS ADELAIDE STRIKERS (2.15)
AT THE WACA, FRIDAY 23/12, 18:15 (local)
The Perth Scorchers enter BBL06 having finished top four in every competition to date and will be looking to make that six in a row in 2016/17. It is likely to be the beneficiary of a new look Test line up, with the Marsh brothers and Adam Voges currently out of the side. Shaun Marsh is still well in Test contention, but must prove he has overcome a finger injury and may use this game as evidence. Ian Bell will make his debut, while inform duo Turner and Cartwright are set to have their biggest Big Bash contributions to date. While the batting looks strong, the absence of Behrendorff, Coulter-Nile, Paris & Tye creates bowling issues. Although the debut of Mitchell Johnson is likely to heat the Furnace up!
Adelaide are the third team to appear twice in the opening round of BBL06 and like the two Sydney teams, check the Strikers out on Wednesday night before placing a bet here. While we know Adelaide possess a dangerous batting order, the bowling attack has taken an early blow with Jon Holland unlikely to take any part in the competition. It means Travis Head will have to bowl all his four overs, but he will be well supported by a pace attack that includes the likes Chris Jordan, Richardson, Laughlin, Neser and Stanlake though. The Rashid and Holland losses complicate the bowling balance slightly, but there are still plenty of solid short format performers in the squad.
Incredibly tight game to predict, even if the Strikers are involved in an extreme result on Wednesday. The Strikers have beaten Perth at the WACA early in Big Bash tournaments before and may take advantage of a weaker looking attack.
Prediction: Adelaide Strikers to win by 1-5 runs/3 wickets