Welcome to Round 6 BBL06 preview. The competition has never been so tight with just 11 home and away matches remaining, as the points table remains clogged up. All teams are still in finals contention with only four points separating first from eighth. It is also that time of the year where the ODI squad is announced and we get a greater indication of team balance leading in the BBL finals. The Melbourne Stars have the most representatives with three (Faulkner, Maxell and Zampa), but have proven in past seasons that it possesses the depth to fill the holes and in some cases improve. Despite having only one player named, you could argue that the Brisbane Heat are the hardest hit with the loss of Chris Lynn. He is genuinely irreplaceable, so it will be interesting to see how the top order is structured without him. The biggest winners are the Hobart Hurricanes and Melbourne Renegades, who unexpectedly retain the services of George Bailey and Aaron Finch respectively after being dropped from ODI duties.
Below is a list of how each franchise is affected.
Adelaide Strikers (2)
Brisbane Heat (1)
Hobart Hurricanes (0)
Melbourne Renegades (1)
Melbourne Stars (3)
Perth Scorchers (1)
Sydney Sixers (2)
Sydney Thunder (2)
Melbourne Stars Head to Head @ $1.70 ($1.75 Power Play at Sportsbet)
MELBOURNE STARS ($1.70) VS ADELAIDE STRIKERS ($2.14)
AT THE MCG, TUESDAY 10/01, 19:40 (Local)
The Melbourne Stars were back to familiar winning ways against the Renegades on Saturday night, accumulating a massive 7/200 that never looked like being chased down. The Stars looked to have a better balance with Bob Quiney at the top of the order, who scored his second BBL06 half century from his second innings. Kevin Pietersen again looked in outstanding touch, scoring a confident 73 from 46 balls to set up the big score with Quiney. David Hussey finally got in the runs with 27 from 11 balls to help get the score to 200. While Faulkner, Maxwell and Zampa are key outs, the inform Peter Handscomb returns to the side on the back of a brilliant start to his test career. The Stars have a habit of lifting at this time of the tournament.
The Adelaide Strikers kept its finals hopes alive with a comfortable five wicket victory against the Hobart Hurricanes, reversing the result from four days earlier. The Strikers reduced Hobart to 5/30 in the sixth over to gain control early, with Chris Jordan and Billy Stanlake the chief destroyers. Unfortunately they won’t get the chance to replicate their dangerous Power Play partnership, with Jordan injured and Stanlake on ODI duty. Hobart eventually clawed its way to 161 thanks to a gritty 89 run partnership between Wells and Webster, but Adelaide made short work of the total as Ben Dunk produced again with an unbeaten 79 from 49 balls to move to second for overall runs. Travis Head joins Stanlake in the ODI squad, which sees the return of Tim Ludeman to the side. New Zealand leggy Ish Sodhi has replaced Jordan as the second international.
Stanlake, Jordan and Head are going to be harder to replace for the Strikers than Faulkner, Maxwell and Zampa structurally. The Stars looked ominous at Etihad Stadium and are hard to back against at home. The $1.70 odds look good can be powered up to $1.75 at Sportsbet.
Prediction: Melbourne Stars to win by 20-25 runs/6 wickets
BRISBANE HEAT ($1.90) VS PERTH SCORCHERS ($1.90)
AT THE GABBA, WEDNESDAY 11/01, 18:40 (Local)
Just a pre-reading warning, this write up is going to be dominated by Chris Lynn. We really shouldn’t be surprised by what this man can do, but he lifted to yet another level against the Scorchers in Perth. His 98 runs from 49 balls included a world record 11 sixes and saw Brisbane chase down a competitive 173 in under 15 overs. He has now accumulated 309 runs from five innings at an average of 154.5 and strike rate of 177.58. He has 26 sixes, averaging over five per innings. It is a real shame we will no longer see his explosive batting during BBL06, but more importantly, what impact does it have on the Heat? Do McCullum and Peirson now have the same freedom to swing the willow hard? Samuel Badree is also a massive loss for the Heat and has been replaced by English speedster Tymal Mills.
I doubt the Perth Scorchers would be too concerned about what happened at the WACA last week, knowing that its biggest problem won’t be fronting up for the return clash. Perth would have felt relatively satisfied with 173 from its 20 overs, but could do nothing to restrict the Chris Lynn bludgeoning. Mitch Marsh has found form with the bat and will be a vital loss, after scoring 210 runs from his five knocks at a strike rate of 152.17. The Scorchers do bat deep though and it will be interesting to see Turner and Agar promoted up the order. David Willey has left for ODI duties and will be replaced by Tim Bresnan.
I do like the Scorchers chances here, but I’m not yet confident to bet against the Heat until getting a greater idea of its structure without Lynn and even Badree. They are key holes to fill in both disciplines of the game.
Prediction: Perth Scorchers to win by 5-10 runs/4 wickets
MELBOURNE RENEGADES ($) VS HOBART HURRICANES ($)
AT ETIHAD STADIUM, THURSDAY 12/01, 19:40 (Local)
After finding itself at 2-1 with games in hand, two losses in three nights has brought the Renegades back to the pack. It conceded 200 against the Stars and never looked threatening during the chase, while a change of weather at the SCG went against the team in red two days later. 170 looked a defendable score on a two paced wicket, but rain made the pitch slippery, creating consistency onto the bat and speed from skidding. While Narine still took two wickets, he and Hogg certainly didn’t appear as dangerous. Pattinson and Tremain were even easier to get a hold of, both going at over two runs per ball. It means the Renegades must now win all of its remaining games for a guaranteed finals position.
The Hobart Hurricanes needed to back up quickly after its poor loss to Adelaide only two nights earlier, but were comprehensively beaten, this time by the back in form Sydney Thunder. It again lost early wickets, but not to the same devastating 5/30 effect against the Strikers. Short and Paine dismissals saw the score at 2/10, but it brought Ben McDermott to the crease and he made an impact. He looked in great touch, before a poor run and brilliant piece of fielding by keeper Lenton ended his innings prematurely. After the poor call, Bailey then had to anchor the Hurricanes to a competitive score and while his unbeaten 69 was admirable, 161 never looked enough. The bowling attack again lacked venom, excluding Stuart Broad who seems to get better with every game. The Hurricanes are the only team not to have lost a squad member to ODI duties.
Both sides have unexpectedly retained stars who are regular canary yellow representatives in Bailey and Finch, but it is the latter who is most vital to his team. The Hurricanes are badly out of form and the Etihad conditions aren’t likely to suit.
Prediction: Melbourne Renegades to win by 15-20 runs/5 wickets