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BBL|08 season preview: Hobart Hurricanes

George Bailey will be the man to watch on the Hurricanes this year. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)
Expert
17th December, 2018
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The Hobart Hurricanes will be looking to go one step further in the 2018-19 Big Bash League after making the grand final last time around, but things don’t look quite as positive for BBL|08.

It was a disappointing finish to a promising campaign for the Hurricanes, as the men in purple stunned the Perth Scorchers away from home in the semi-final, before being beaten comprehensively by the Adelaide Strikers in the decider.

The semi-final win proved exactly what Hobart are capable of as they ran up 210, before limiting Perth to just 139 on the back of some exceptional bowling and fielding.

The Hurricanes have never won the Big Bash, despite the fact they have had the potential to do so more than once; they’ve made two final appearances and made the semis once more.

While they made the final last time around, that shouldn’t gloss over the fact that they almost made a complete meal of getting to the top four, going on a run of losses at the end of the season and having to rely on other results going their way. There’s room to improve this year.

George Bailey

(AAP Image/Rob Blakers)

Squad

Matthew Wade (c), Jofra Archer (West Indies), George Bailey, Johan Botha, James Faulkner, Caleb Jewell, Hamish Kingston, Ben McDermott, Riley Meredith, Simon Milenko, Tymal Mills (England), David Moody, Tim Paine, Sam Rainbird, Tom Rogers, Clive Rose, D’Arcy Short, Aaron Summers.

Captain: Matthew Wade
Coach: Adam Griffith, Ben Rohrer
Imports: Jofra Archer, Tymal Mills

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Batsmen
The Hurricanes’ surprise run to the final last season came on the back of big totals.

If there was a man feared by bowling attacks, it was D’Arcy Short. He scored 572 runs in 2017-18, averaging 57 and going past 50 four times, with a century to his name as well. There was no way the Hurricanes would have made the finals without Short playing as well as he did.

To be fair to the rest of the Hurricanes’ line-up, there were other positive contributions. Ben McDermott ended the season with more than 300 runs and Matthew Wade was strong at the top of the order.

George Bailey will provide the steadying hand in the middle order, while Tim Paine will also play when available.

ben-mcdermott-hobart-hurricanes-big-bash-league-cricket-2017

(AAP Image/Julian Smith)

All-rounders
The fight for spots amongst the Hurricanes all-rounders will be a tough race. Given the strength in their batting at the top of the list, there are probably only going to be two spots for all-rounders at six and seven.

One of them will almost certainly go to new signing James Faulkner, who has come across from the Melbourne Stars, while the other will likely go to Simon Milenko.

Bowlers
It’s been rare for a team to retain both of their imports in consecutive seasons, but that’s exactly what the Hurricanes have done this time around.

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Jofra Archer and Tymal Mills are both back for another year, and while Archer has proven to be one of the best T20 bowlers in the world, Mills had major problems last year.

By the time it was all said and done, Mills had an economy rate of almost ten runs per over while only taking eight wickets, so it’s something of a surprise to see him back for another go.

Outside of the import duo, the Hurricanes will be looking at Clive Rose to do some damage with his left-arm spin, particularly during the powerplay, and a combination of Sam Rainbird and Tom Rogers, who burst onto the scene last year, to round out the attack.

Rogers’ economy rate was high, but he was outstanding at the back end of last season, to the point where some were calling for his inclusion in the Australian squad.

International cricket impact
The Hurricanes won’t be forced into making a heap of changes due to international selection this year.

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Tim Paine obviously captains the Australian Test team and so won’t play during Tests, while D’Arcy Short will likely be selected in the ODI and T20 squads.

Outside of that, Ben McDermott is the only other potential international absentee.

Best XI

1. Matthew Wade (c)
2. D’Arcy Short
3. Tim Paine (wk)
4. Ben McDermott
5. George Bailey
6. James Faulkner
7. Simon Milenko
8. Jofra Archer
9. Clive Rose
10. Tom Rogers
11. Tymal Mills

Keys to the season

Has D’Arcy Short been figured out?
While international attacks are a step up from those in the BBL, there’s evidence to suggest D’Arcy Short has been just about figured out.

He struggled during the recent T20 series against India, and it’s because they simply bowled line and length to him and stopped him finding the fence.

Short is a player who loves to deal in boundaries, rather than working the ball around for singles and waiting for the opportunity to go big later in the innings.

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If teams can get on top of him in the BBL and limit the number of boundary balls, there is a very real chance he will play a silly shot and find a way to get out.

Of course, it could just be a lack of form as well, because when Short is on, there isn’t a ground in the world big enough to contain him.

D'Arcy Short

(AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

What will James Faulkner provide?
James Faulkner will be looking for something of a new start at the Hurricanes this season. He wasn’t poor in Melbourne last year, but an international career was put on the backburner with solid but unspectacular results – 188 runs and six wickets – in a team which was beaten more often than not.

Faulkner still has the ability as an all-rounder to be one of the best cricketers in the game. From a Hurricanes point of view, though, he has just been signed to replace the important Dan Christian, who left the club after taking four wickets in the semi-final last year.

Faulkner is probably not as consistent as Christian, but he is more explosive. He has more change-ups with the ball and is a more dangerous death bowler, while his batting has the potential to either take games away from the opposition or close them out in a run chase.

If he can do that, the Hurricanes will be a lot closer to the finals than expected.

James Faulkner

James Faulkner is the Hurricanes’ main signing for BBL|08. (AAP Image/Richard Wainwright)

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Can Ben McDermott keep up his hot form?
McDermott had a break out season last year. He racked up a number of half-centuries and finished the year with more than 300 runs from his ten innings, leaving him the top ten run-scorchers.

The explosive middle-order batsman was rewarded with his good form with a call-up to the Australian ODI and T20 squads for series against South Africa and India, and while he didn’t get many opportunities, he will be better for the experience.

If he can take that back to the Hurricanes and continue improving, he could become one of the best players in the BBL.

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Can the bowling attack find some consistency?
The Hurricanes inconsistency last year was a problem caused by their bowling attack.

As mentioned above, Tymal Mills struggled. He just couldn’t get any control for the life of him, going for almost ten runs per over for the season and nullifying much of Jofra Archer’s good work.

Tom Rogers was also good in patches, turning in what was the best performance of his career with three wickets in the semi-final, but needs to be better for the entirety of the season this time around for the Hurricanes to limit teams to chaseable scores.

The x-factor is Clive Rose. He had something of an up and down season last year, and while there were good moments, his bowling average of almost 40 wasn’t good enough for the lead spinner in the side. New recruit Johan Botha will be hot on his heels for a place in the XI.

Full fixtures

Match no. Date Time (AEDT) Opponent Venue TV
1 Sat Dec 22 7:00 PM Brisbane Heat Gabba Fox
2 Mon Dec 24 3:45 PM Melbourne Stars Blundstone Arena Fox
3 Fri Dec 28 7:15 PM Sydney Thunder Blundstone Arena Seven/Fox
4 Sun Dec 30 7:15 PM Perth Scorchers UTAS Stadium Seven/Fox
5 Fri Jan 4 7:15 PM Sydney Sixers Blundstone Arena Seven/Fox
6 Mon Jan 7 7:15 PM Melbourne Renegades Marvel Stadium Seven/Fox
7 Mon Jan 14 7:15 PM Melbourne Stars MCG Seven/Fox
8 Fri Jan 18 9:30 PM Perth Scorchers Optus Stadium Fox
9 Mon Jan 21 7:15 PM Adelaide Strikers Adelaide Oval Seven/Fox
10 Wed Jan 23 7:15 PM Sydney Sixers SCG Seven/Fox
11 Tue Jan 29 4:00 PM Brisbane Heat Blundstone Arena Fox
12 Thu Jan 31 7:40 PM Adelaide Strikers UTAS Stadium Seven/Fox
13 Thu Feb 7 7:40 PM Melbourne Renegades Blundstone Arena Seven/Fox
14 Sat Feb 9 6:15 PM Sydney Thunder Manuka Oval Fox

Prediction

Hobart did make the grand final last year and that has to count for something, but it’s hard to see them rising to the same heights in BBL|08.

They have too much youth and inexperience floating around, and while Short is a match-winner, the ‘Canes should miss the finals this season.

Sixth.

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