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Three surprise BBL standouts

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Expert
18th January, 2019
14

Whether you want to put it down to appalling fielding, dunderheaded batting, or some pretty ordinary quality pitches, the broad consensus this season has been that the Big Bash League is down in quality over recent seasons.

For what it’s worth, I put it down to all three.

But the quality is still there, if you’re prepared to look for it. Here are a couple of guys I’ve been impressed with this summer who aren’t really getting the headlines they deserve.

Cameron Boyce – Melbourne Renegades leg spinner
I know I’m not alone in thinking this, because I’ve seen a few of you commenting about how well Boyce has been bowling again this summer. This has been timely because, with Adam Zampa again showing what he can do on the national stage and Mitchell Swepson still enjoying the Shane Warne-generated headlines, it would’ve been easy for Boyce to have been lost in the wash.

The move to the Renegades – his third BBL club – has proved incredibly fruitful for the 29-year-old, and it’s now nearly three years since he played the last of his seven Twenty20 Internationals.

Plenty of you commenting have noticed how well he’s landing the ball this season, and that’s been a huge contributor to his economy being so good through BBL|08.

How good? Well, of the bowlers to have bowled more than a handful overs, Boyce ranks fifth in terms of best economy rates in the competition, going for just 6.22 runs per over. That’s not to say he’s not taking wickets – he has seven at 31 from his nine games.

Cameron Boyce and co. are challenging Australia's resident spinner Nathan Lyon. AFP PHOTO/ MAL FAIRCLOUGH

It’s been a while since we’ve seen Cameron Boyce on the international stage. Could strong BBL form warrant his return? (AFP PHOTO/ MAL FAIRCLOUGH)

In among those nine matches are some wonderfully frugal figures: 0/13, 2/23, 2/16, 2/17, 0/15 among them, and those last figures are the only time he’s not bowled the full four overs. The Renegades were playing the Sydney Sixers, so…

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Boyce has three instances of ten or more dot balls in an innings, including 13 in that 0/13 against Perth back in Game 2. While, in that Sixers game, Boyce only bowled four dot balls in his 0/15, the Sixers were restricted to a single 13 times in 18 balls! What is interesting flicking through his overs this year is how often a wicket is taken by another bowler in the next over.

It’s figures like these and economy like this that makes me wish that collective, competition-wide dot ball stats were kept. It is possible to find dot ball counts within a game – CricInfo counts dots alongside fours, sixes, wides, and no-balls in their bowling figures – but wider comparisons a la leading wicket-takers, or indeed, most economical bowlers are harder to track down.

My gut feel is that Boyce would be right up there this summer.

Daniel Sams – Sydney Thunder allrounder
Someone was going to need to stand up as a wicket-taker for the Thunder this summer, in an attack that in the last week or so has looked a little thin, and the big-hitting allrounder who crossed from the pink side of Sydney has been the one.

The Thunder have taken 49 of 90 possible wickets this season, though they only had the chance to take two wickets in three overs the other night before a mysterious and ultimately convenient darkness descended on the Gabba.

Of those 49 wickets, Sams has taken 11 of them to be their leading wicket-taker, and evergreen-but-wily leggie Fawad Ahmed has another ten. Another eight Thunder bowlers have chipped in for a further 25 wickets, and there’s a couple of runouts in there as well.

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Sams’ 11 puts him comfortably inside the top ten wicket-takers for the competition, and he’s done it with canny changes of pace, as well as bowling both in the powerplay up front and in the death overs at the end. Of the eight games he’s bowled in, he’s only not taken a wicket in two of them.

But his batting has also been more than handy, with some valuable scores in the middle order along the way and a definite ability to clear the rope. His strike rate of 161.05 doesn’t just stand out for the Thunder, it’s the best in the competition among regular batsmen this summer.

Ashton Turner – Perth Scorchers batsman
Only three players have cracked 300 runs in BBL|08 – D’Arcy Short and Chris Lynn being two of them are easy guesses. Ashton Turner being the third is definitely a harder guess, and of the top ten run-scorers this summer, Turner is the only one not to open or bat regularly in the top three.

His six-ball two on Friday night was just his second single-figure score this summer, and only the fourth score of 24 or fewer. Really handy knocks along the way of 49, 60*, 47, 43*, and 60 have helped the Scorchers build innings that they’d have struggled to reach without him.

Turner was briefly called into the Australian ODI squad as cover for Mitch Marsh, but is yet to debut, and hasn’t added to his three T20Is from 2016/2017.

But it’s never been a better time for Australian batsmen to string together some scores, and with the T20 World Cup in Australia next summer, you couldn’t rule out a recall.

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Over to you now – but forget the ones getting the headlines, who’s grabbed your attention and maybe no-one else’s this BBL?