Welcome to the Round 2 BBL06 preview. The first five games of this year’s tournament are complete, highlighted mostly by some big first innings totals and large winning margins. Brisbane, Hobart and Perth all set targets of over or around the golden 200 mark, providing outstanding stroke play. Those three sides and the Melbourne Renegades all sit undefeated in the top four, while the Sydney Sixers were able to split the results in its first two encounters. The most disappointing side of the first round was reigning champion the Sydney Thunder, falling to two heavy defeats against the Sixers and Renegades respectively. Adelaide weren’t much better with two losses also, but provided a brave chase against Brisbane to leave some optimism.
Melbourne Renegades to defeat Perth Scorchers Head to Head @ $1.90.
HOBART HURRICANES ($2.30) VS MELBOURNE STARS ($1.61)
AT BLUNDSTONE ARENA, MONDAY 26/12, 19:10 (Local)
While every early game is difficult to predict due to a lack of information, Hobart arguably produced the biggest upset of the first round by defeating the Sixers at the SCG. Its win was set up by a spectacular opening partnership between Tim Paine and the relatively unknown D’Arcy Short, who together slapped 81 runs off the first 8 overs. Short was the aggressor with 61 from 29 balls, while Paine anchored the innings to an even 200 runs. The bowlers had a good time of it with the Sixers having to go hard from the start, taking wickets at regular intervals. While it was an impressive campaign beginning, I’d like to see how it handles a slower start before getting too excited.
The Melbourne Stars are the only team we haven’t seen as yet, but it has named a very strong side for this clash. While Kevin Pietersen is overseas for Christmas as usual, the squad includes many short form specialists like Wright, Zampa, Faulkner, Boland and of course the mercurial Glenn Maxwell. While Maxwell hasn’t been in favour with Australian selectors of late, he is in red hot form having smashed 77 from 34 balls in a recent practice game against the Renegades. He and the Stars look ready to make an immediate impact.
Hobart were very impressive against the Sixers, but the Stars look so strong on paper despite the lack of exposed form. While $1.61 looks short on first glance away, the Stars will have too much depth.
Prediction: Melbourne Stars to win by 10-15 runs/5 wickets
SYDNEY SIXERS ($2.15) VS PERTH SCORCHERS ($1.70)
AT THE SCG, TUESDAY 27/12, 19:10 (Local)
The Sixers produced a mixed bag to start its BBL06 campaign, firstly by easily dealing with the Thunder side by nine wickets, before being blown away three nights later by Hobart. It’s pace attack looked vulnerable early against the Thunder before rectifying itself with numerous wickets, but was put to the cleaners by the Hurricanes. The seam quartet of Dwarshuis, Mennie, Abbott and Bollinger went for 142 runs from their 12 combined overs, an economy rate of just under 12 runs per over. Botha and O’Keefe restricted the flow, but the pacemen are producing predictable lengths and taking unamendable damage. Time for a restructure and plan analysis.
The Perth Scorchers ended a somewhat frustrating hoodoo by winning its first opening Big Bash season game ever against Adelaide. It was an impressive display, highlighted by the performances of new recruits Ian Bell and Mitchell Johnson. Bell held up most of the innings with 61 from 42 balls, while Johnson bowled four aggressive overs to claim figures of 3/33. The most notable performance came from Ashton Turner, whose 44 from 19 balls elevated Perth’s score to an excellent 197. He possesses the required x-factor to potentially be the next Big Bash star and push for national honours. Shaun Marsh is expected to take his position in the side.
I’m still bullish about the Sixers, despite the obvious bowling issues. A minor restructure and the (potential) return of Daniel Hughes creates some value for the Sixers at home. Despite the excellent performance against the Strikers, I’m not sold as yet on the Scorchers bowling depth considering the injuries and need some harder evidence in tougher circumstances. The inclusion of Shaun Marsh might give Perth the slight edge, but I’m finding these two tough to split.
Prediction: Perth Scorchers to win by 1-5 runs/3 wickets
SYDNEY THUNDER ($2.20) VS BRISBANE HEAT ($1.67)
AT SPOTLESS STADIUM, WEDNESDAY 28/12, 19:10 (Local)
The Sydney Thunder couldn’t have begun its title defence in much worse fashion, losing its opening two BBL06 matches convincingly. The Sixers were able to chase down a below par 159 to open the competition, before the Renegades ran away to a straight forward 49 run win two nights later. The top order is seriously lacking experience with the likes of Hussey, Kallis, Khawaja and Watson either retired or unavailable from last year’s triumph. Ryan Gibson is trying to fill the void having scored 53 and 39, but is lacking support. The bowling attack is certainly strong enough, but needs the luxury of runs to operate at its maximum potential.
The Brisbane Heat proved against the Adelaide Strikers that it may well possess the most dangerous batting attack in the competition. Brendon McCullum has certainly changed the mindset with his ultra-aggressive attitude, beginning his new stint with the Heat with 42 from 21 balls. It got Peirson in the hitting mode too with 46 from 29 balls, while Ross finished things off with 64 from 36 to get the score to 206. Once Chris Lynn hits top touch, he and McCullum could become the most watchable batting partnership in world cricket. The Heat still have some bowling worries, but excellent death overs from Steketee and Cutting avoided a massive total being chased down.
Watson isn’t too far away for the Thunder and could return, but the batting order still has holes despite his potential inclusion. Hard not to back in the Heat here based on what we have seen so far.
Prediction: Brisbane Heat to win by 15-20 runs/5 wickets
MELBOURNE RENEGADES ($1.90) VS PERTH SCORCHERS ($1.90)
AT ETIHAD STADIUM, THURSDAY 29/12, 19:10 (Local)
The Melbourne Renegades specifically targeted an attack based on spin and off pace bowling to suit its Etihad drop in wicket during the offseason and that strategy is off to a terrific start. While Aaron Finch set up a very competitive target of 179 with 63 from 37 balls, all eyes were on a bowling attack that had something to prove and it produced. 10 of the Renegades overs were bowled by spin, with Hogg, Narine and Cooper collecting figures of 5/62 combined. Hogg got the crowd up and on his side early, claiming the important wickets of Gibson and Rohrer. Tremain and Bravo also played valuable roles for the in synced bowling line up that will look even more threatening when James Pattinson returns.
The Perth Scorchers play two nights before against the Sixers, so as usual, consider the market changes after that clash is completed. A thing to consider from the Scorchers match against Adelaide was its ability to easily get a hold of the pacemen. The Strikers had a seam heavy attack, which suited Perth on the hard WACA wicket. It won’t be that easy against the Renegades and its bowlers may not be as well suited either.
I expect the odds for this game to change after the Sixers vs Perth encounter, so I think it is worth having a nibble at the $1.90 Renegades before that result. The confidence toward the Renegades will barely change despite what happens two nights earlier. Should Perth win, the Renegades are likely to become even greater value.
Prediction: Melbourne Renegades to win by 15-20 runs/5 wickets