Welcome to the Round 4 Big Bash League preview. The Melbourne Stars continue to be the form side of the tournament with 3 wins from 3 starts. Cross town rivals the Renegades have got out of its mid season slump with two important victories against Hobart and Brisbane in round 3. The two Melbourne sides will meet for the second derby in only 15 days, this time at Etihad Stadium.
The stroke making in the first three rounds of the season has been scintillating, with five 200+ totals recorded in the first two weeks of the competition. Even though it has produced some entertaining cricket, the bowling throughout this same period has lacked quality to say the least. There have been a larger percentage of full balls this season that the batsmen have feasted on consistently. There is a thought that the bowlers have struggled adapting their lengths to the shorter format after two months of Sheffield Shield, but the standard will lift after two weeks of T20 cricket. In saying that, I’m sure a majority of the spectators are more than happy with what they have witnessed thus far.
Melbourne Renegades to defeat Melbourne Stars @ $2.34.
Brisbane Heat ($1.69) vs Sydney Sixers ($2.18)
Thursday 02/01/2014, at the Gabba, 6:40PM (local)
Brisbane Heat 9/127 (Pomersbach 37, O’Keefe 3/21, Hazlewood 3/32) lost to Sydney Sixers 5/128 (Lumb 61no, Cutting 2/9, Christian 2/21) by 5 wickets at the Gabba.
The Brisbane Heat aren’t producing the results a side with such a quality line-up like they do should be. The batting isn’t really the issue, with the likes of Burns, Lynn and Christian all entrenched in the top 10 run scorers for the competition. While the big name opening partnership of Pomersbach and Kieswetter hasn’t lived up to expectations (they only average 13 for the first wicket over the 3 games), the middle to late order have picked up the pieces on most occasions. The bowling on the other hand has a lot to answer for. Many considered the Heat to possess one of the best bowling assemblages in the league, but after conceding consecutive record BBL scores, that opinion has changed. McDermott, Cutting, Gannon and Christian all have economy rates over 9, mainly due to consistently full lengths. It is a fixable problem, but it needs to be resolved fast.
The Sydney Sixers are coming off a 77 run mauling from the inform Melbourne Stars and will be looking to forget that result even happened. Unfortunately for them, the result will have to be revisited as there are some serious flaws that need to be assessed. The major issue is the wides. The Sixers have conceded an enormous 42 wides over its first two matches. Not only are wides free runs, but a golden opportunity for the opposition to make additional runs from the extra ball.
The Sixers have won both encounters against the Heat. Brisbane are also beginning to develop a concerning record at the Gabba which suggests that the Sixers are decent value at $2.18. If Sydney can divide its wides by 4, the targets they’ve had to chase wouldn’t have been nearly as difficult.
Prediction: Sydney Sixers by 15 runs/4 wickets
Perth Scorchers ($1.51) vs Sydney Thunder ($2.51)
Friday 03/01/2014, at the WACA, 4:40PM (local)
Sydney Thunder 9/113 (Khawaja 56, Hogg 4/29, Behrendorff 2/16, Beer 2/23) lost to Perth Scorchers 1/117 (S.Marsh 56no, North 39no) by 9 wickets at the WACA.
The Perth Scorchers are just beginning to slide behind the contenders and would be pleased to be coming up against the Sydney Thunder. As we have noted throughout the tournament, the batting is weak and is starting to create serious problems. Thankfully, Nathan Coulter-Nile saved his side from an embarrassing total with 42 from 25 balls against the Strikers. Arafat and Thomas are great bowling recruits, but it makes you wonder why they didn’t sign another batsman with one of their international contracts. In a positive for the Scorchers, Ashton Turner showed some good signs with the bat by clearing the boundary twice and looking comfortable for the first time.
The Sydney Thunder goes into this game looking to end a 16 game losing streak. If they lose again on Friday night, it will be 741 days since their last win! It is a number that would be getting on the nose of both Cricket Australia and the good folk of Western Sydney. Thankfully, Michael Hussey is at least keeping the Thunder competitive. The innings was once again determined around the success of Hussey and he didn’t let them down, striking 66 from 48 balls. He shared another important partnership with Eoin Morgan, putting on 57 runs for the third wicket. Mystery spinner Ajantha Mendis should be available for selection.
This could be one of the Thunders best chances for a win, provided Hussey makes another score. Perth should still have the advantage at home.
Prediction: Scorchers by 10 runs/3 wickets.
Melbourne Renegades ($2.34) vs Melbourne Stars ($1.57)
Saturday 04/01/2014, at Etihad Stadium, 7:15PM (local)
Melbourne Stars 7/208 (Wright 70, White 53, Hodge 30) defeated Melbourne Renegades 10/132 (Buttler 49, Finch 32, Bird 4/31) by 76 runs at the MCG.
The Melbourne Renegades are back in contention for the title after convincing victories against Brisbane and Hobart. Captain Aaron Finch has come to life over the last round, generating scores of 81 and 50 in match winning performances. The Renegades equalled the BBL record score of 210 that Hobart set in round 2 and backed that up with 162 on a tricky Blundstone Arena wicket. James Pattinson has had an enjoyable return to top flight cricket, with figures of 3/36 and 4/24 (the best Renegades figures ever) against the Heat and Hurricanes respectively. Nathan Rimmington has been at his consistent best with 2 wickets in each of the four innings he has bowled and heads the tournament in that category.
The Melbourne Stars just keep getting the job done. The Thunder gave them a minor scare before a brilliant innings from Brad Hodge of 48 runs from 28 balls guided the Stars home on a two paced ANZ Stadium wicket. They do look uncomfortable chasing though, which is something to keep in mind for later in the tournament. ANZ Stadium plays similarly to Etihad Stadium and I don’t think the top order of the Stars would necessarily enjoy that.
I wasn’t at all convinced with the Stars performance on Wednesday night and if it wasn’t for a freak Brad Hodge innings, the result could have gone either way. I feel the Renegades are a genuine chance with the suited conditions of Etihad Stadium. $2.34 looks great value, especially after the Renegades comfortable wins over the last few days.
Prediction: The Melbourne Renegades to win by 15 runs/5 wickets.
Adelaide Strikers ($1.66) vs Sydney Sixers ($2.22)
Sunday 05/01/2014, at Adelaide Oval, 6:45PM (local)
Sydney Sixers 6/135 (Smith 58, Henriques 32, Tait 2/13) lost to Adelaide Strikers 1/136 (Ludeman 71no, Klinger 53) by 9 wickets at the Adelaide Oval.
The Adelaide Strikers are in a prime position after 3 rounds. A lot of the credit deserves to go to Michael Klinger though, who is averaging 162 at a strike rate of 152.83. His 86 not out against Perth will be remembered as one of best Strikers knocks to date as he batted through the innings to get his side home. The bowling has also been solid, especially Michael Neser who with Pattinson are the only bowlers in the competition to be averaging under 10 with the ball. His two 3 wicket hauls have been vital to the Strikers success.
The Sydney Sixers don’t have happy memories from the Adelaide Oval last season, when the Strikers cruised to a 9 wicket victory on the back of a brilliant 71 not out from wicketkeeper Tim Ludeman. Like the Renegades in round 2, the Sydney Sixers back up for two games in round 3. The Hobart Hurricanes don’t feature during round 4, so ensure you swap their players with those from the Sixers.
It is impossible to ignore the form of the Strikers, but ensure you check out the Sixers on Thursday before placing a bet to see where they are at.
Prediction: Adelaide Strikers by 20 runs/5 wickets.
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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