Welcome to the Round 4 BBL06 preview. As we near the halfway point of the home and away rounds, the Big Bash table is beginning to take shape. The Brisbane Heat are the only undefeated side, sitting on six points with the Perth Scorchers who have a played an extra game. The major improvement has come from the inclusion and captaincy of Brendon McCullum, whose positive energy and attitude has done wonders for the squad. Then there is Chris Lynn, who has just continued on from his outstanding BBL05. He already has two unbeaten 80+ scores and despite some luck, is still clearly the most dangerous batsman in the tournament. The Perth vs Brisbane game looks the highlight of Round 4 and perhaps a very early Grand Final preview.
Adelaide Strikers to win Head to Head @ $1.90
HOBART HURRICANES ($1.90) VS ADELAIDE STRIKERS ($1.90)
AT BLUNDSTONE ARENA, MONDAY 02/01, 19:10 (Local Time)
Hobart become the latest victim of the Chris Lynn show, as he and his handy partner in crime Brendon McCullum made a mockery the Hurricane’s attack. It is becoming more obvious with every game that Hobart’s bowling flexibility and options are limited when the opposition get on top. Tait and Kingston in particular are leaking dangerous levels of runs, to the point that it appears Tim Paine is losing faith. The batting order is doing its job despite the constant failures of Kumar Sangakkara, but needs to produce scores of close to 200 to be competitive. Has Damien Wright overrated his bowling stocks?
The Adelaide Strikers are off the mark for BBL06 after a gallant bowling display defended a disappointing first innings total on New Year’s Eve. The Strikers were flying at 1/91 in the tenth over and looked on track for a score of 200 before losing 4/11 in 17 balls. It lobbed to 152 at the end of the 20th over, a score that looked 20-30 runs short at the time on a very good pitch. At 0/34 after four overs, the Sixers looked a winning prospect before Ben Laughlin instigated a collapse of 7/30. His figures of 2/10 from four overs were match defining, while Stanlake intimidated his way to three wickets with aggressive and fast short tactics. With Neser and Richardson out of the side, it was the most balanced and unpredictable bowling set up the Strikers have produced thus far.
I’m really big on the Strikers here. Adelaide has underperformed to date, but looked to sort out its bowling structure against the Sixers. It was a confidence boasting performance and I feel its top order can get a hold of Hobart’s attack. The $1.90 odds are very attractive.
Prediction: Adelaide Strikers to win by 20-25 runs/5 wickets
BRISBANE HEAT ($1.62) VS SYDNEY SIXERS ($2.31)
AT THE GABBA, TUESDAY 03/01, 18:10 (Local Time)
Could the Brisbane Heat possess the most exciting batting partnership in world cricket currently? Chris Lynn and Brendon McCullum are bringing in massive crowds, massive ratings and hitting the ball massive distances. It is almost as if they are trying to outdo themselves as when McCullum hit the biggest six of the tournament straight down the ground, only overs later Lynn hit a 121 metre monster that cleared the Gabba roof. After being the BBL05 Player of the Tournament, Lynn has backed up to lead the most runs lists again, averaging a whopping 198 and striking at 167.79 per 100 balls. With all due respect to the rest of the Heat’s batsmen, these two are singlehandedly making Brisbane the title threat it is.
The Sydney Sixers are becoming the most difficult side to assess after a disappointing loss to Adelaide which saw it fall to a 2-2 win/loss ratio. Its bowling attack did a brilliant job in restricting the Strikers to a below par score of 152, highlighted by outstanding figures of 5/16 from Sean Abbott. But its seemingly quality batting order on paper just caved in, losing 7/30 after a strong start. It was a bizarre performance, marred by poor decisions, bad execution and strange dismissals. It is better than this, but the performance could end up being a confidence drainer.
I doubt anyone is mad enough to back against a side containing Lynn and McCullum at the moment, but I do expect greater performance from the Sixers. Brisbane should win, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Sixers come good yet again.
Prediction: Brisbane Heat to win by 10-15 runs/5 wickets
SYDNEY THUNDER ($2.45) VS MELBOURNE STARS ($1.55)
AT SPOTLESS STADIUM, WEDNESDAY 04/01, 19:10 (Local Time)
The Sydney Thunder need a miracle now to make the BBL06 finals series after a big loss to Perth on New Year’s Day. It was the reigning champion’s fourth consecutive loss, which means it now needs to win all of its games and rely on other results to enter the top four. The biggest issue is a very poor net run rate of -1.541, which has seen the Thunder’s title odds blow out to $101.00. It has been a sudden fall from grace for the Western Sydney based side, who looked to have turned the corner from its early history of poor results.
The Stars went into the Melbourne derby as short favourites in front of a big crowd at the MCG, but were beaten by a disciplined Renegades outfit. After having the Gades 3/65 in the ninth over, the Stars struggled to create wicket opportunities as White and Cooper ticked the runs over with minimal risk. The Stars still would have backed themselves chasing 171, but the early wickets of Maxwell and Pietersen put the MCG based franchise on the back foot quickly. Hogg and Narine then took control of the middle overs and the Stars top order had no answers in the wet. It is a big result for the Stars, who obviously would have loved to be 2-0.
The Melbourne Stars are short priced favourites for good reason here. The Thunder are a long way off the team we saw last year and are lacking confidence.
Prediction: Melbourne Stars to win by 30-35 runs/7 wickets
PERTH SCORCHERS ($) VS BRISBANE HEAT ($)
AT THE WACA, THURSDAY 05/01, 16:10 (Local Time)
Like every season it seems, the Perth Scorchers are announcing themselves as one of the sides to beat with a comfortable win against the Thunder elevating it to top position. It was a regulation performance, beginning with a tidy all-round batting effort before disciplined defensive bowling easily restricted the Thunder. There was no standout, just many good contributions which is what makes this team so successful. David Willey becomes unavailable in the coming days due to ODI commitments and will be replaced by Tim Bresnan.
As usual, check out the Heat’s performance against the Sixers before committing your hard earned on this result. While it is hard not to get too excited about what Lynn and McCullum are currently producing, some credit deserves to be directed toward the improved bowling effort. Brisbane could barely snare a pole in recent seasons, but already have collected 22 wickets from three matches during BBL06. Steketee is the big improver with six wickets, but the overall structure is better equipped for the shorter format. It only takes one or two bowlers to create imbalance and the lesser pace emphasis has worked wonders.
Difficult match to pin point a winner with two of the better teams competing. The hard surface of the WACA is likely to suit both batting orders, so expect a high scoring encounter. I can’t back any team with any great confidence, with Perth perhaps a slight favourite at home.
Prediction: Perth Scorchers to win by 1-5 runs/3 wickets.