With the second edition of the BBL now complete, time to take a look at the teams who stepped up and the teams who came crashing down in 2012/2013.
Talk about timing your run perfectly. It was s surprise they performed as poorly as they did last year given the team was made up with the bulk of the Queensland team that was dominating domestic cricket at the time.
After their first few games, it again looked like another season of unfulfilled promise, but Darren Lehmann and his boys turned it on to storm home in their last three games.
A firing top order and a bowling line-up that was able to choke the life out of their opponents saw them claim an unlikely title, made even sweeter when it was done without captain James Hopes and import Dan Vettori who missed the whole season with injury.
Their CLT20 campaign will be aided by the fact that many of their squad are not on IPL contracts, although Dan Christian and Luke Pomersbach could be possible losses.
Hero: Undoubtedly Luke Pomersbach. A man whose talents were known to all in Australian Cricket, it was great (even as a disgruntled Perth fan) to see him return to the domestic scene and make the impact that we know he can.
Here is hoping he can continue this in all forms of the game and get his name back up in the selectors eyes. Honourable mentions to Joe Burns and Chris Lynn, two great young talents.
Zero: Hard to pick out any player who didn’t really contribute to the cause. Dan Christian took some time to warm to his task, and even though his batting came good, his bowling at times was expensive, with no better example than the frenzied finish in the pool match against the Scorchers when Nathan Coulter-Nile sent him for 20 in four balls.
Will again be disappointed to have hosted the final and come up short for the second year running. Having said that, the fact they were even in a position for that to happen was some effort after the start they had to the comp.
Coming into the tournament, WA cricket was in a mess, and after a narrow loss to Adelaide in their first game they were skittled for an embarrassing 70 against the Stars. Credit goes to Justin Langer for keeping the team focused, who then lost only one game to the Hurricanes from this point on to host the final.
They were an exhilarating team to watch at times, with their chases against the Heat in the pool match and against the Stars in the semi were two of the best you will see. There was a concern their batting line-up was a bit skinny, and this was perhaps exposed in the final having worked for the previous seven games. Should do much better this time around in the CLT20, especially if Pat Cummins is fit to fire.
Hero: Shaun Marsh. Like his close mate Luke Pomersbach, this tournament provided redemption for one of the better batting talents in Australia. A horror 12 months before saw him barely score a run against India, and his form dipped so badly he was dropped to grade cricket, on top of the dramas at the CLT20.
However, he turned it around and ended up topping the run charts and was by far the most consistent batsman during BBL02. What was lovely to watch with Marsh was that in the helter skelter T20 environment, he did all this with classical cricket shots rather than ugly heaves.
Let’s hope this helps him rediscover himself as the player who scored a century on Test debut.
Zero: Has to be Tom Triffit. Made the move west at the start of the year, and had shown great promise in the previous two years at Tasmania/Hobart while filling in for Tim Paine. Unfortunately he could barely score a run, and was so out of form the gloves were given to Mike Hussey for the last two games.
Did not get the reward they deserved for an amazing turnaround and brilliant season. Last season they only avoided the wooden spoon on net run rate, and in the lead up to the tournament lost Brad Hodge, Glenn Maxwell, Andrew McDonald, Shaun Tait and Shahid Afridi from their line-up.
Huge credit has to go to Simon Helmot and his crew for the wonderful job of recruitment they did to turn their season around. With Aaron Finch and Ben Rohrer leading the way, backed up with the ball by the wily old fox Murali, this team set the benchmark for the whole tournament, only to fall over at the end when confronted by a red hot Brisbane team.
If they can keep this team together next year they will again be contenders.
Hero: Ben Rohrer. Was the unsung hero for NSW when they beat Victoria back in the 2008/09 Big Bash, and the Sixers must be kicking themselves for letting him go.
One of the most consistent performers, always went about it with little fan fare, but regularly found or cleared the boundary and scored at a good click. Very unlucky not to be picked for the national team, and NSW will hope he carries that form over for the rest of the season.
Zero: Another tough one, but will say Marlon Samuels, mainly due to his poor form with the bat. Bowled well – albeit with big question marks over his action – but was mainly brought in after his great form on the international scene, especially a man-of-the-match effort in the WT20 final.
Unfortunately will only be remembered this year for the controversies, especially the spat with Shane Warne.
Again, like last year had a patchy season, but did enough to make the finals before being knocked off by Perth. With the core of the Victorian team that dominated the comp when it was still state based they are always expected to do well, but would not have been expected to be shown up by their cross town rivals.
Inconsistent performances cost them at crucial times, and their focus at times was questioned on the field in light of the Clint McKay/Dan Christian and Warne/Samuels incidents. They have a stable list and should be expected to be there or thereabouts again next year.
Hero: Lasith Malinga. Enhanced his reputation as a short form bowler with a wonderful campaign, highlighted by his haul of 6/7 against a clueless Scorchers line-up. Was definitely missed in the final two games when their bowling line-up showed some signs of fragility.
Zero: Shane Warne. Hate to speak ill of an Aussie cricket legend, but his campaign was far from memorable. Copped a pasting in the first game, but even though his bowling came back, his captaincy and behaviour at times was poor.
The Samuels incident, his decision to bowl Alex Keath and not himself in the semi and the subsequent captaincy fiasco will be his final acts. That is a sad end for the spin king. Closely followed by Rob Quiney who has had a shocking run of form since his Test debut.
Well, what can you say about the Strikers other than that dreaded C word – choke. They had a finals spot on a platter, and even a close loss in that last game against the Scorchers would have got them in, but they capitulated and that was that.
Again were expected to do well, and with the inclusion of Tait and McDonald to their squad, as well as having Kieron Pollard fit this year, they had the line-up to go all the way.
At times though they became too dependent on Pollard as well as their spin, with their ‘spin to win’ mantra being shown up against the Scorchers.
Need to make the finals next year or else questions will be asked of this group.
Hero: Tim Ludeman. Set great platforms for them at the top of the order with some carefree and courageous innings, and no doubt caught many teams off guard. His keeping was also of a high standard and if he keeps this form up could throw his name into the ring for higher honours.
Zero: Not a player, but have to say selection. Made it clear with their squad that they were going to be heavily reliant on spin, but that reliance ended up proving too heavy.
Had a strike weapon in Shaun Tait who was under utilised, and in the end their spin heavy attack became predictable, resulting in 189 being scored against them in their last game.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment of the tournament from a team perspective. Were knocked out in the semis last year by eventual champs the Sixers, and this year had George Bailey, Tim Paine and Ricky Ponting to add to a strong line-up.
Alas is it wasn’t to be. They failed to improve on last year. It seemed to be a case of relying on too much from too few, although the lack of form from one or two key players would not have been expected. They often squandered strong positions in the game.
Hero: Ben Laughlin. He had disappeared into the wilderness for a few years after playing some ODI and T20 cricket in early 2009 for Australia, but is well and truly back. Took the spot of Rana Naved in closing out the end of the innings with a wonderful variation and great accuracy. Deserved to be back in the national team and with Malinga he was the bowler of the tournament.
Zero: Travis Birt. Perhaps the biggest disappointment of the whole tournament. Set BBL01 alight with his power hitting and remarkable consistency of scores. Looked set for the same after the first game , but he suffered a dramatic fall in form and barely scored another run after that.
Doug Bollinger was also disappointing and seems to be a shadow of the bowler who was playing for Australia just over two years ago.
Talk about from the penthouse to the outhouse. BBL01 champions, CLT20 champions, and started the campaign off with another win against the Thunder and looked untouchable. From there it all unravelled, and they only secured another two wins, although one of those was an away win against eventual champs Brisbane.
They did suffer from a horrid run of injuries, but they could just not get everything to click. Their batting in particular suffered with their full depth being tested, and somewhat exposed. They must be kicking themselves for letting Ben Rohrer and Peter Nevill go to the Renegades.
Hero: Hard to pick one from the team in the circumstances, but it would have to be a joint award to the two veterans Brad Haddin and Brett Lee. Haddin was the leading batsman for the Sixers, continuing his form from the start of the season and earning a national ODI recall.
Lee was by far the best of the bowlers, with the opposition often just seeing off his four overs to ensure they did not lose any wickets. They would have loved the support of Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazelwood this year.
Zero: Moises Henriques. Started the domestic summer like a house on fire, but that flame was well and truly extinguished during the BBL. Only 78 runs with the bat, and three wickets with the ball at nearly 10 an over. His bowling figures are almost identical to those of Aaron Finch, who is even less than a part-time bowler. How he was picked for Australia now is beyond me.
Not a lot that can be said that hasn’t been said already. A winless season, and apart from when Chris Gayle got firing in the last game against the Stars they never seriously looked like winning a game at all.
On paper they had a better balanced team than last year when they won two games, but again their batting let them down. Their bowling was much better with the experience of Dirk Nannes and the emerging Chris Tremain and Adam Zampa, but they either had to little to defend or watched their batsmen squander their good work.
Hero: Usman Khawaja. Like Shaun Marsh, he showed that runs in T20 can still come at a quick rate with classical cricket shots and not ugly heaves.
The improvement in his batting was again highlighted here as he never got bogged down as he did last season, and could have done even better if he had some support while he was there instead of having to shepherd the innings. Honourable mention goes to Dirk Nannes for his wonderful bowling.
Zero: Chris Gayle. Undoubtedly the biggest disappointment of the tournament. Came over with huge expectations after his efforts last year, as well as around the world in various T20 tournaments, but a form rut that had begun in Bangladesh carried over to the BBL.
Some would say his allowance to stay in the city away from the rest of the team was also poor team management, as it would not have helped team harmony as well as the likelihood that Gayle was out clubbing to the early hours each night.