BBL week ahead: May the cream commence rising

Brett McKay Columnist

By Brett McKay, Brett McKay is a Roar Expert

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52 Have your say

    Two weeks into the Big Bash League, and we’re already starting to get an idea of which teams are and aren’t in contention for the playoffs in the second-last week of January.

    With the Perth Scorchers winning very well under the open roof in Melbourne last night, they join the logjam of teams with two wins and four points, and it’s this group of teams that will probably battle it out to claim the remaining spots in the top four.

    Wins are everything from now on, and there’s no doubt the couple of teams with 1-2 records really cannot afford to lose too many more if they want to join that group of teams immediately above them.

    It’s quite likely that the coming week will be massive for a number of sides for a number of reasons, and here are a few things to look forward to heading into the third week of the tournament.

    Big Bash-a-palooza
    Prepare the favourite chair for some serious butt-groove creation over the next week. After barely coping with no BBL action on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day – which by the sound of James Sutherland’s tone will quite likely not be the case next season – we’re in the middle of a 17-day BBL marathon to Monday 11 January, in which 19 matches will be played. There will be eight matches over the next seven days.

    There will also be three WBBL matches broadcast over the next three days, too, including the wonderful news that Saturday’s WBBL Melbourne derby that precedes the men’s equivalent will be shown on the primary Network Ten channel, before the BBL double header that night. After drawing wonderful ratings in their initial forays on OneHD, all eyes will be on what sort of numbers the girls can draw on the main channel.

    Sydney Thunder can secure maiden semis appearance this week
    They’ve won the same number of games this season than they did over the last three seasons and have never finished higher than last summer’s seventh place. But by this time next week, the Thunder – everyone’s second team, perhaps? – could have one foot in the BBL playoffs.

    Over the four previous seasons of the BBL, 10 points from five wins has been enough to guarantee a berth. Indeed, Perth have three times hosted semi-finals on the back of five wins, including most recently last season, though in fairness, each team only played seven games in BBL01.

    The Thunder are undefeated and outright leaders heading into the third week of the competition, and are twice away this week in very winnable games against Hobart (Friday) and Brisbane (Sunday). They’ve discovered the right mix of experience, x-factor, and reliability, and that makes them a dangerous side from here on.

    Lynn playing for recognition
    He proved on Tuesday night that when fit, and when he’s really ‘on’, there aren’t too many cleaner strikers of the ball that Brisbane Heat skipper Chris Lynn.

    Lynn’s 51-ball 101 must surely now put him toward the top of the batting option list for the World Twenty20, and even the January one-dayers against India. There’s no reason why he can’t be just as effective a batsman over the longer version of the shorter forms of the game.

    But with Brisbane now 0 and 4 and their playoff chances all but shot, Lynn can actually be a little selfish and ensure he finishes his campaign as one of the BBL’s dominant batsmen. And in a misfiring Heat top order, he’s not going to have to worry about too many teammates taking runs off him. Essentially, how strong a tournament he finishes with now is entirely up to him, and that can only help his national selection chances.

    And speaking of big…
    Lynn hit some monstrous sixes in Brisbane on Tuesday night, but I will be astounded if Dan Christian’s 117m bomb onto the ‘Gabba roof is topped in 2015-16.

    If you haven’t seen it yet, then do yourself a favour, hold all calls for the next 49 seconds and click the window above.

    It’s a big week ahead for… Shaun Marsh
    Justin Langer said of his Boxing Day omission that “…when Shaun Marsh gets angry and hungry, then that’s when I like having him in the team,” and though twin MCG centuries from Joe Burns and Usman Khawaja probably don’t help his Test recall chances, this week represents the commencement of Shaun Marsh trying to prove the national selectors wrong.

    After making 76 against the Renegades in Melbourne last night, Marsh over the next week is also in line to face the Sydney Sixers in Perth on Saturday, and Adelaide in Adelaide on Tuesday.

    With an eye toward the World Twenty20, and the ODI line-up far from settled currently, Marsh will have plenty of opportunity to remind the selectors of his worth and mount a case for inclusion in the limited overs squads to face India.

    Who’s this week’s Premiership Favourite™?
    It’s hard to go past the Thunder, on current form. My initial picks, Hobart and Adelaide, have both looked a little scratchy in recent outings, while the Thunder just keep rumbling along, if you allow the obvious pun.

    If they can win these next two games on the road, two of their final three games being at home will set their season up very nicely.

    Even though they’re still learning how to play at Spotless Stadium themselves, after switching from the cavernous ANZ Stadium in recent seasons, the Thunder remain a few steps ahead of opposition teams. Plus, they’re now drawing a significant and vocal crowd in the west of Sydney who would to see them home.

    Tip of the week: Renegades to win the Melbourne Derby, Saturday night.

    I wrote in the first week of the competition about my reservations of the Melbourne Stars’ bowling line-up, and I’ve seen nothing since to ease those concerns. Their batting looks strong; Wright, Pietersen, Maxwell, Handscomb, and David Hussey are all hitting the ball pretty well.

    But the bowling still looks unthreatening to me, and I can’t help but wonder if they might be shooting themselves in the foot by playing ‘keeper Tom Triffitt, when perhaps they’d be better served by Handscomb ‘keeping and picking another bowler? John Hastings may or may not be right to return by Saturday, and Evan Gulbis is another useful allrounder in the Stars’ squad.

    The Renegades, however, just look more complete as a team to me. They bat deep, real deep; Tom Cooper not batting last night and listed to come in at no.7 is a luxury most teams would love. In Nathan Rimmington, they have one of the cannier short-form bowlers getting around, and also have useful spin experience in Xavier Doherty and Nathan Hauritz.

    Despite the ten wicket loss to Perth, and I think they’re still a big chance in the Derby.

    Brett McKay
    Brett McKay

    Brett McKay is one of The Roar's good news stories and has been a rugby and cricket expert for the site since July 2009. Brett is an international and Super Rugby commentator for ABC Grandstand radio, has commentated on the Australian Under-20s Championships and National Rugby Championship live stream coverage, and has written for magazines and websites in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the UK. He tweets from @BMcSport.

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    The Crowd Says (52)

    • Roar Guru

      December 31st 2015 @ 11:36am
      Paul D said | December 31st 2015 @ 11:36am | ! Report

      Hauritz had a tough first game last night, not sure he will be picked for the derby. Bowling to Marsh and Klinger is a tough proposition, but he was a run piñata last night, they just smashed sixes like candy all over Etihad off his bowling. I’d say he may only get one more chance to prove he still belongs at this level – I don’t think Hauritz and Doherty are particularly effective spinners anymore in this format regardless, both are prone to giving up great gobfuls of runs in a hurry.

      Loving the tournament so far, it really is hard to pick a winner at this stage. Couple of teams have the goods, and the arbitrary nature of finals means it comes down to who fires in the semis. If you have an off night you’re gone, doesn’t matter how good the rest of your season has been! I’d back the Thunder to make the final if they get a home semi at Spotless though, they do seem to have a good mix at long last in that side.

      • Roar Guru

        December 31st 2015 @ 11:54am
        Nathan Absalom said | December 31st 2015 @ 11:54am | ! Report

        I think neither Hauritz nor Doherty put enough work on the ball to be as effective at the format as other spinners. You’ve really got to back yourself to give the ball as big a rip as you can every now and again.

        • Columnist

          December 31st 2015 @ 12:23pm
          Brett McKay said | December 31st 2015 @ 12:23pm | ! Report

          Can’t disagree with that, Nathan, and I certainly take Paul’s point above, too. Hauritz at least is trying to beat batsmen through the air and even off the wicket with what little turn he does get. Doherty the other night went for more than 10 an over with I think only a few dot balls, and was easily just picked off as if he was a medium pacer trying to bowl off-cutters.

          Hauritz did cop some tap last night, for sure, but he also came on against two pretty set batsmen. Perth were 0/52 when Hauritz first came on for the 7th over, and 0/92 when he came back in the 12th..

    • December 31st 2015 @ 11:56am
      Bakkies said | December 31st 2015 @ 11:56am | ! Report

      Roar has a headline video watch Dan Christian’s biggest ever six at the Gabba surely Lee’s was bigger hitting it over the roof and landed on top of the nets. That was in a test as well.

    • Roar Guru

      December 31st 2015 @ 12:00pm
      The Bush said | December 31st 2015 @ 12:00pm | ! Report

      Whilst Australia’s batting stocks in Test Cricket continue to be questionable, the depth of talent in the T20 format is absolutely astounding.

      For once I actually have some sympathy with the selectors. Just in the last week it has become difficult to see how you can’t select Klinger, S Marsh and Lynn. At the same time Finch has found form and is the captain, whilst Warner and Smith are elite bats that simply cannot be ignored. You’d also have to argue that Khawaja, in the form of his life, is in serious contention. Throw in Maxi and arguably the world’s premier T20 player of the last decade, Shane Watson (perhaps his time has passed?), and it’s very hard to see how you can settle on a top 6 from among this bunch. Likewise there has been some excellent bowling too. Starc is unavailable, but Behrendorff and Tye look the goods, plus Faulkner is yet to hit his straps. Whilst Australia is probably unlikely to go with two spinners in the side at any one time, Boyce looks great and Lyon bowled very well in his only outing so far this season.

      Perhaps the only area of concern is that none of the wicketkeepers have been standouts.

      • Columnist

        December 31st 2015 @ 12:27pm
        Brett McKay said | December 31st 2015 @ 12:27pm | ! Report

        Yeah, it’s a really good point Bushy. You could come up with numerous top order + allrounder combinations and none of them would be terrible currently. I actually think Australia could do a lot wore than rotate through a squad of about 20 for the ODIs, and maybe even 15 or 16 for the T20Is, partly because they can, partly because it’s the best opportunity to fine tune before the WT20..

    • Roar Guru

      December 31st 2015 @ 12:09pm
      Paul D said | December 31st 2015 @ 12:09pm | ! Report

      Do we think Smith is a guaranteed selection at this stage? It’s quite likely he’ll play virtually no big bash cricket this summer, and his knee is giving him a few problems. Can’t argue with his credentials – but are we going to pick form players, or pick players on the basis of theoretical form over in India?

      • Roar Guru

        December 31st 2015 @ 12:17pm
        The Bush said | December 31st 2015 @ 12:17pm | ! Report

        As he’s not the captain of the side, I don’t think he’s a guaranteed selection. It’s interesting, whilst we have spent all summer talking about players from teams like New Zealand and the West Indies forgoing Test Cricket to play T20, Smith may end up much like Michael Clarke – our Test and ODI captain, but unable to play T20 cricket due to the fact there probably isn’t enough space in the calendar… (of course the argument can be made that Clarke simply wasn’t suited to T20 cricket anyway).

        • Roar Guru

          December 31st 2015 @ 12:25pm
          Paul D said | December 31st 2015 @ 12:25pm | ! Report

          I’d go one step further and stand Smith and Warner down for this tournament – both are already very busy with test and ODI cricket commitments, and could use a rest. Warner has said the 20/20 game has had an impact on his test batting recently. Why not clear up the confusion. And we have the players who can deliver similar roles.

          I’d like to see a top order of say

          Shaun Marsh
          Mitchell Marsh
          Wicketkeeper (number of choices here)

          Have 4 frontline bowlers below that, you’ve got Mitch Marsh and Maxwell who can also bowl. But you’ve also 4 of the cleanest hitters and most in-form batsmen at the top of the order, with 2 devastating hitters to follow (or float in the order, depending on game situation). Pick horses for courses.

          • December 31st 2015 @ 1:57pm
            Don Freo said | December 31st 2015 @ 1:57pm | ! Report

            Dunk or Paine to keep. Wade hogs the strike and destroys the momentum of the other batsman. Gee, he kept badly last night.

            • Roar Guru

              December 31st 2015 @ 2:05pm
              The Bush said | December 31st 2015 @ 2:05pm | ! Report

              If they go with Wade I’ll lose it…

            • Roar Guru

              December 31st 2015 @ 2:09pm
              Paul D said | December 31st 2015 @ 2:09pm | ! Report

              Yeah, I wouldn’t have Wade anywhere near the Aussie side at the moment.

              • December 31st 2015 @ 2:17pm
                ajay said | December 31st 2015 @ 2:17pm | ! Report

                Nah ! Lock wade- odi and dunk -t20 I think tye, Laughlin,ncn,richo,dorff ,all are good t20 bowlers ,Klinger unlucky he’s opener and warner,finch,(+dunk,watto) all are openers.

            • Columnist

              December 31st 2015 @ 2:59pm
              Brett McKay said | December 31st 2015 @ 2:59pm | ! Report

              I’d love to see Handscomb keeping for the Stars so we can get a proper look at his glovework, because I think of all the keeping options around the country (Dunk, Wade, Paine, Peirson, etc) Handscomb is best equipped of all them to bat down the order..

              • December 31st 2015 @ 3:03pm
                Don Freo said | December 31st 2015 @ 3:03pm | ! Report

                Add Bancroft to that. He does very well when in attacking mode with the bat (cf Matador).

                His keeping has been as good as any in BBL.

              • Columnist

                December 31st 2015 @ 3:16pm
                Brett McKay said | December 31st 2015 @ 3:16pm | ! Report

                yeah, I’ve been really impressed with his BBL keeping, though I knew he was a decent keeper and hence his expertise in close under the lid.

                I’ll reserve judgement on his lower order batting though, he’s only had the one opportunity this BBL and you can’t really tell much from 8 or 10 balls..

          • Roar Guru

            December 31st 2015 @ 2:05pm
            The Bush said | December 31st 2015 @ 2:05pm | ! Report

            Certainly can’t fault your batting line up. Still amazing that Klinger would probably walk into any other T20 side in the world, but won’t get selected here.

            Who are the bowlers? Do we play two spinners or only the one with Maxi? I suppose if you’re going with Maxi, that means a leggie, plus three quicks. Presumably Faulks at 8 and two other quicks.

            • Roar Guru

              December 31st 2015 @ 2:11pm
              Paul D said | December 31st 2015 @ 2:11pm | ! Report

              Yeah, Faulkner at 8, and two other quicks plus a spinner – I haven’t really followed the bowling as closely, but I like Boyce and Behrendorff. Richardson must be close, and Tye could make the squad as well. Difficult to choose.

          • Roar Rookie

            December 31st 2015 @ 3:22pm
            Tom from Perth said | December 31st 2015 @ 3:22pm | ! Report

            Klinger is a must!

          • December 31st 2015 @ 6:20pm
            BurgyGreen said | December 31st 2015 @ 6:20pm | ! Report

            Gotta bat Maxwell ahead of Mitch Marsh. And I’d go Klinger instead of Khawaja. The rest looks pretty good.

        • Columnist

          December 31st 2015 @ 12:30pm
          Brett McKay said | December 31st 2015 @ 12:30pm | ! Report

          Interestingly Bushy, I think Smith will captain the side for the WT20 and lead the team in all three formats from there on. Smith wasn’t a certain selection when Finch was appointed T20 Captain, but Smith is now not just the best batsman in the country, but the best captain as well. I think the three teams will be united for the first time in quite a while..

          • Roar Guru

            December 31st 2015 @ 12:57pm
            The Bush said | December 31st 2015 @ 12:57pm | ! Report

            Poor bloke, I love cricket as much as the next bloke, but geez that’s a lot of cricket!

          • December 31st 2015 @ 1:35pm
            ajay said | December 31st 2015 @ 1:35pm | ! Report

            Nah ! Finch is skipper , smith said last Aug this is finch team and not a fan of finch but he’s no.1 ranked ATM.Chris Lynn so talented young man , if picked for odis then what about heat ? Bahaha

            • Columnist

              December 31st 2015 @ 1:39pm
              Brett McKay said | December 31st 2015 @ 1:39pm | ! Report

              Finch will still be in the team, Ajay, but you can’t tell me he’s a better tactical captain that Smith..

              • December 31st 2015 @ 1:59pm
                ajay said | December 31st 2015 @ 1:59pm | ! Report

                Agreed Brett ! Do you think tye good enough ??

              • Columnist

                December 31st 2015 @ 2:50pm
                Brett McKay said | December 31st 2015 @ 2:50pm | ! Report

                Yeah I do, I think Tye has developed into one of the better T20 bowlers in Australia. Ben Laughlin is toward the top of the list, too..

            • Roar Guru

              December 31st 2015 @ 1:39pm
              Paul D said | December 31st 2015 @ 1:39pm | ! Report

              Heat are giving the Lions a good contest for the worst sporting outfit in Brisbane at the moment.

              • Roar Guru

                December 31st 2015 @ 2:02pm
                The Bush said | December 31st 2015 @ 2:02pm | ! Report

                Thing is they have no talent at all to call upon. They absurdly put all their eggs in the McCullum basket, despite the fact it was difficult to see how he was ever going to be available. Honestly other than Lynn and Cutting (the most commentary-criticised player in the BBL), none of these blokes would even make the other 7 sides.

              • December 31st 2015 @ 2:07pm
                ajay said | December 31st 2015 @ 2:07pm | ! Report

                Lol cutting ? Lynn(player of the tournament so far) and badree leading wicket taker for heat

              • Roar Guru

                December 31st 2015 @ 2:16pm
                Paul D said | December 31st 2015 @ 2:16pm | ! Report

                I had to face Luke Feldman once at an indoor cricket game at Toombul, he had a 6 week stint with one of the A grade sides there. Absolutely terrifying, bowled way too fast and was grateful to get down the other end without wearing one on the body.

                Watching Dan Christian club him all the way to Coorparoo the other night was a pointed illustration of the gulf between the pros and we amateurs!

                I was happy for Dan Christian, he deserved that success after the Heat flicked him off.

        • Roar Rookie

          January 4th 2016 @ 3:27pm
          Mark Haywood said | January 4th 2016 @ 3:27pm | ! Report

          If Smith has a choice in the matter he may become just Test and T20… ODIs really seem to be getting squeezed out, they don’t have a place with the emergence of T20.

          • January 4th 2016 @ 4:26pm
            Don Freo said | January 4th 2016 @ 4:26pm | ! Report

            ODI certainly does have a place. I’m really looking forward to the ODIs against India.

      • Columnist

        December 31st 2015 @ 3:44pm
        Ryan Buckland said | December 31st 2015 @ 3:44pm | ! Report

        I’d be surprised to see Smith in the WT20 team, mostly because of his load at an international level over the past 12 months (and with another three tests and five ODIs to come). The national side looks quite deep based on BBL form and previous short form experienced players, so he sits for me.

    • Columnist

      December 31st 2015 @ 1:11pm
      Brett McKay said | December 31st 2015 @ 1:11pm | ! Report

      So I have to admit, I did have a serious rethink about the tip of the week before submitting last night, and will certainly concede that Perth beating the Sixers on Sat night ran a close second to the derby tip. If we know one thing about the BBL by now, it’s that momentum can swing very quickly..

    • December 31st 2015 @ 1:32pm
      Alex L said | December 31st 2015 @ 1:32pm | ! Report

      The interesting part of the BBL at this point is who can make the 2 finals spots of the 4 competing sides: the Sixers, Hurricanes, Strikers, and Scorchers — the Stars should easily make the finals on the back of the soft run home they have, and if the Thunder miss out I’ll have to find good ways to cook a hat.

      National team speculation for the World T20 is obviously high, but perhaps I’m alone in not having seen anything really mind altering about that, with exception of quick bowlers (Starc aside, Aussie test quicks don’t translate to T20 very well), much of the quality is in the test side so it’s hard to identify anyone as really making a case yet.

      • Columnist

        December 31st 2015 @ 1:42pm
        Brett McKay said | December 31st 2015 @ 1:42pm | ! Report

        Agree Alex. Realistically, Brisbane are probably the only team out of the running for the playoffs..

        And you’re probably not alone in your thinking, but I’ll go back to Bushy’s point above about the batting and allrounder depth currently. There perhaps are any massive standouts, but there is a swag of really, really good options, none of which would look out of place in the national T20 side – hence the speculation, I suppose..

        • December 31st 2015 @ 1:59pm
          Alex L said | December 31st 2015 @ 1:59pm | ! Report

          You think the Renegades are still in with a chance Brett?

          Their bowling stocks seem far too weak to me.

          • Columnist

            December 31st 2015 @ 2:56pm
            Brett McKay said | December 31st 2015 @ 2:56pm | ! Report

            Yeah, I do, though it will probably depend on how they cope without Finch. I think they’re a better side than the Stars this season..

        • Roar Guru

          December 31st 2015 @ 2:00pm
          The Bush said | December 31st 2015 @ 2:00pm | ! Report

          It’s funny though, you say there hasn’t been any massive standouts, but I’d argue it’s more the fact there is been a lot of massive standouts.

          Excepting Brisbane, who only have Lynn (though perhaps that young left hander they’ve unearthed for the Shield side is a good’un), the quality across the other seven teams is ridiculous. You can see why the BBL is now regarded as the second best competition in the world. I’d argue that it’s not only the second best comp, but by some measure.

          • Columnist

            December 31st 2015 @ 2:55pm
            Brett McKay said | December 31st 2015 @ 2:55pm | ! Report

            We’re probably saying the same thing, actually, Bushy. By very definition, there can’t be a lot of standouts, but there certainly are a lot of very good players putting their hand up – there will be well-deserving players unlucky to miss the cut.

            Are you putting the IPL ahead of the BBL, out of interest’s sake? I’ve not seen enough of it in recent years to judge, but my feeling based on anecdotal evidence from those playing and coaching suggests to me that the BBL might not be too far behind, if indeed it’s behind at all..

      • December 31st 2015 @ 2:00pm
        Don Freo said | December 31st 2015 @ 2:00pm | ! Report

        If we pick quicks on form for T20, Laughlin and Tye are essential. Richardson and the Dorff in contention.

        • Columnist

          December 31st 2015 @ 2:51pm
          Brett McKay said | December 31st 2015 @ 2:51pm | ! Report

          Can’t disagree with any of those picks, Don..

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