T20 Big Bash League Round 1

Australia have regained the Ashes and while there are still two Test Matches remaining, the attention is now drawn to the third addition of the Big Bash League. Round one is highlighted by the local derbies between the Melbourne and Sydney teams, while a replay of last season’s final will take place at the Gabba between the Brisbane Heat and Perth Scorchers.

It is an exciting prospect for those without the luxury of pay television, as these matches will be the first Australian domestic T20 matches ever shown free to air. Network Ten have won the rights and will look to make the fast paced concept its own, much like Channel 9 has done with Test and ODI cricket.

The betting opportunities look decent for the opening round, especially with punters clueless to how squads are likely to settle after most only formed together less than a week ago. It will be interesting to see who jumps from the blocks.

BEST BET

Adelaide Strikers to win at $2.10

Melbourne Stars ($1.71) vs Melbourne Renegades ($2.14)

Friday 20/12/2013, at the MCG, 7.45PM (LOCAL)

PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER:

Melbourne Stars 9/146 (Wright 29, Sheridan 3/36) were defeated by Melbourne Renegades 1/147 (Finch 67 not out, Doolan 30) by 9 wickets at the MCG.

The two Melbourne derbies produced entertaining situations last year, both for the right and wrong reasons. The first game at Etihad was highlighted by a scintillating Aaron Finch century that set the tone for the rest of his season. The follow up game at the MCG will be remembered for an ugly altercation involving Shane Warne and Marlon Samuels. Unfortunately neither have backed up for the BBL3, meaning we don’t get to witness the theatre of their individual grudges.

The Melbourne Stars have named a star studded 13 man squad for Friday, but it will be without one of its most vital players Lasith Malinga. The Sri Lankan has national duties and will be sending down his thunderbolts in Dubai instead. Current ODI regulars Glenn Maxwell and Clint McKay will be available for to play, while Alex Keath has produced some strong performances in the practice matches and will push for selection in the XI.

Jos Buttler will be the Renegades replacement international for the first four matches before Mohammad Hafeez is available. He has set the practice matches alight with two electrifying knocks to close the innings. Aaron Finch and Ben Rohrer look in great touch having hit 57 and 47 respectively in the final practice match, while rejuvenated paceman Jayde Herrick took three wickets to make a late bid for the best XI.

It is close to impossible to ignore the form of the Renegades last year, but the Stars look amazing on paper. Aaron Finch blew both encounters apart last season with scores of 111 and 67. If the Stars get him early, they’ll be in the box seat, despite the exclusion of Malinga.

Prediction: Melbourne Stars to win by 20 runs/ 5 wickets
Confidence: 70% 

Sydney Sixers ($1.85) vs Sydney Thunder ($1.95)

Saturday 21/12/2013, at the SCG, 7.15PM (LOCAL)

PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER:

Sydney Thunder 6/132 (Khawaja 66 not out, Lalor 2/20, Feldman 2/23) were defeated by Sydney Sixers 6/136 (Hughes 51 not out, Nannes 3/24) by 4 wickets at ANZ Stadium.

The previous three Sydney based derbies have been lacklustre to say the least. Never has there been a score set or chased of more than 147, while the Sydney Sixers have won all encounters with barely a threat of competition from the Thunder. It probably says more about the misfortunes of the Sydney Thunder than anything, but the rivalry has failed to blossom like that of the Stars and Renegades.

The Sydney Sixers will be pleased with the start of its two English imports in the recent practice game. Michael Lumb set the pace at the top of the order with an explosive 51 off 34 balls. Ravi Bopara was just as entertaining, smashing 44 off 32 balls and successfully showcased his renowned ramp shot. They look like being a quality combination throughout the season. Nic Maddinson looks set to open the innings with Lumb, while Dan Smith is likely to take the gloves in the absence of Brad Haddin. Steve Smith has been released from Test commitments to play in the game.

In a massive win for the Thunder, Cricket Australia have also released David Warner to take part at the SCG. As we all know, he has been in the form of life during the Ashes series, plummeting 457 runs at an average of 91.40 and strike rate of 75.91. He joins Michael Hussey, Eoin Morgan, Chris Woakes and Luke Feldman as new recruits for the Thunder, ensuring that they’ll be far more competitive this time around.

The bowling still doesn’t look strong enough for the Thunder and despite key inclusions, the Sixers look great value at $1.85. Warner is the obvious key wicket.

Prediction: The Sydney Thunder by 15 runs/4 wickets
Confidence: 65%

Hobart Hurricanes ($1.74) vs Adelaide Strikers ($2.10)

Sunday 22/12/2013, at Blundstone Arena, 1.45PM (LOCAL)

PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER:

Adelaide Strikers 4/162 (Klinger 71 not out) defeated Hobart Hurricanes 8/124 (Paine 33, Boyce 3/17) by 38 runs at Blundstone Arena.

This game doesn’t possess the same rivalry as other round 1 matches, but it does potentially hold the best value. The Adelaide Strikers dealt with the Hurricanes easily in Hobart on January 5th last season, so it is slightly surprising to see the odds as lopsided as they are.

The Hurricanes need to take back control of its home ground advantage, after losing its last two games at Blundstone Arena for the 2012-13 season. It could manage scores of 3/150 and 8/124 in those games after some questionable risk free batting. Thankfully, the early practice match signs have been encouraging. Blizzard, Birt, Wells and Gulbis have all made contributions and will be looking to carry that into the season proper. Ben Dunk was the real surprise packet though, thumping 74 from only 48 balls to put himself in contention for a gig. In a real bonus for the side, captain George Bailey (coming off a world record 28 run over) and Doug Bollinger have been released from the Test squad. Dimitri Mascarenhas will be the International cover for Shoaib Malik.

I really like the look of the Adelaide Strikers. Englishman Alex Hales is the perfect addition to the batting line up and will make his debut at Hobart. At this stage, there are no players trapped in the national set up, meaning Adelaide will be close to full strength. They look outstanding value at $2.10.

Prediction: Adelaide Strikers to win by 25 runs/4 wickets.
Confidence: 75%

Brisbane Heat (1.78) vs Perth Scorchers ($2.05)

Sunday 22/12/2013, at the Gabba, 6.15PM (LOCAL)

PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER:

Brisbane Heat 5/167 (Burns 43, Christian 37,Pomersbach 37) defeated Perth Scorchers 9/133 (Voges 49, Roach 3/18) by 34 runs at the WACA (BBL2 Final)

This is BBL2 Final replay and there are sure to be some scores to settle after the Brisbane Heat ran away with a comfortable victory that night. Consistent strikes from Joe Burns and Dan Christian built the score to a respectable total of 167, before a brilliant combination of aggressive and tight bowling from Roach, Hauritz and McDermott saw the Heat lift the trophy aloft.

The Heat have made minimal changes to its squad, but Craig Kieswetter and Daniel Vettori are enormous international signings. It adds striking power to the top of the order, as well as economical value to the bowling. Shane Watson and Mitchell Johnson haven’t been released by Cricket Australia and will be enjoying well earned rests after being key factors in regaining the Ashes.

The Perth Scorchers have lost some key personnel and don’t look as strong as the side that was put on the park for the BBL2 Final. Hussey, North, Stoinis and (while he didn’t play in the Final) Herschelle Gibbs have left some large gaps to fill. Positively, the three spinners were in great Perth grade form over the weekend. Michael Beer took 5/13 from 13 overs (including 8 maidens), Agar 4/45 and 60 not out, while veteran Brad Hogg claimed 3/43. They are sure to be key contributors for the Scorchers.

The gap looks to have grown between these two. A Shaun Marsh master class is the Scorchers greatest hope.

Prediction: Brisbane Heat to win by 30 runs/ 4 wickets.
Confidence: 85%

Please Note:
All of the above are the opinions of the author and are not recommendations or advice. The author may not be taking every bet listed above. Bet at your own risk.
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Author

mm

Mr Century

Covering all things T20 Big Bash Cricket for The Profits.

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