Australian allrounder Shane Watson has announced he will retire from the Big Bash League.
It ain’t easy being green, just ask Mike Hussey.
Six games into BBL03 and the Sydney Thunder have just chalked up, unbelievably, their 19th consecutive loss.
They’ve been without a win since December 2011.
During their first two years they were often criticised for a lack of depth, attributed by many to the lack of funds available to fill the squad after the presumably large contracts that were handed to original marquee signings Dave Warner and Chris Gayle.
Following a winless tournament last year the Thunder have cleaned house for the second time in two years. They’ve changed leadership, got themselves a new coach, and signed more than a dozen new players in an effort to balance the squad out.
The biggest of those signings being Mike Hussey who they lured across from the Perth Scorchers.
Mr Cricket has managed three half-centuries from six games, but he has received very limited backup from the rest of his side at the times when he needed it most.
Dave Warner’s unavailability due to national selection, and injuries to Usman Khawaja and Tillakaratne Dilshan certainly haven’t helped either.
Combine that with some unusual bowling tactics, suspect fielding, and general lack of killer instinct and things haven’t been pretty for the men from Western Sydney.
It’s the absence of killer instinct, their inability to find ways to win games when they are on top, that stands out most this season.
They’ve got reasonable talent, and probably should have won at least two of their games this season, but just as we saw with England in the Ashes, when the Thunder get the upper-hand over an opponent they loosen the grip and then everything goes pear-shaped.
In round 1 against the Sydney Sixers, Dave Warner and Usman Khawaja got them into a position to post a total of 190+ after being 0/106 at the half-way mark.
Unfortunately once the openers were out the remainder of the side only contributed 26 between them and their total of 166 – which is actually their highest ever – was easily picked off by their cross-town rivals.
Against the Adelaide Strikers in round 2 their bowling stocks did well to restrict the big hitting Strikers to just 153 – but a loose final over of 17 hurt them.
In their chase early wickets had them in trouble before the class of Mike Hussey and Eoin Morgan got things back on track for victory… right up until the last couple of overs when they choked and handed the Strikers the win.
No one really expected them to challenge the rampaging Melbourne Stars in round 3, so even a respectable batting effort of 155 led by Hussey and Morgan was never going to be enough.
However, by the 15th over the Thunder’s bowlers had the Stars required run rate approaching 11 before back-to-back overs from Dilshan and Coyte went for a combined total of 34, and the Stars cruised home from there largely thanks to Brad Hodge.
They travelled to Perth for round 4 to take on the Scorchers, batting first and posting a reasonable total of 157.
Well it seemed reasonable until they were given a cricket lesson by Simon Katich and Mitch Marsh. By the time Katich eventually fell, the damage had been done and the Scorcher’s got home easily.
In round 5 they had the Brisbane Heat struggling at 3/43 after 8, and they should have capitalised, but instead the Heat’s form men – Dan Christian, Chris Lynn and Ben Cutting – took over and scattered them all over ANZ Stadium lifting the Heat to 165.
In the end a match that was probably their best chance at breaking the drought turned out to be their most disappointing effort this season with another lone-hand from Mike Hussey offset by the constant loss of wickets, the Thunder were never in the contest.
Their most recent outing at Bellerive against the Hobart Hurricanes is the first of two matches they’ll play in round 6. Early on the Hurricanes looked on track for a score around 200, but the Thunder’s bowlers fought back and held them to 167.
Still, in three years they’ve never scored that many runs, so it was always going to be a big ask for a line-up struggling as much as they are.
Early wickets, including Hussey for just 2, and this game was quickly heading in the same direction as the previous 18 – in the end they were skittled for less than 100 going down with barely a whimper.
Looking back they probably should have beaten the Sixers and the Strikers, and were on top at points against the Scorchers and Heat, but here we are and they’re still winless.
No doubt 19 is a massive streak when a full season is only 8 matches long, but it only ranks as the second worst T20 losing streak of all-time, they’ve still got a way to go before they break the record.
The unfortunate record holder’s are the Quetta Bears from Pakistan who suffered through a 27 game losing streak between April 2005 and December 2012.
So the question remains, will the Thunder find a way back on to the winner’s list before the end of BBL03? I don’t like their chances.
They’ll face the Melbourne Renegades at Etihad in a couple of days time. The Renegades will be without danger man Aaron Finch, but I don’t think that it will make much difference.
Then after an 11 day break, the Thunder’s season will end with the second Sydney derby, this time on their home turf. Unfortunately for them the Sixer’s are getting better as the tournament progresses… the Thunder are not.
Where do they go from here?