A high-scoring shootout looms when Australia begin their three-match T20 series in South Africa on Friday.
Pace off the ball, lots of spin, an elite fielding group and a perfect balance between ballistic hitting and deft touch: that’s what makes my all-time BBL XI a winner.
As the BBL final looms this week I’ve gone back over the nine seasons of this competition to come up with the ultimate starting XI using only Australian players.
While in the early days of the BBL teams leaned heavily on pace, the competition has become increasingly dominated by spin, and that’s reflected in my line-up. Wrist spin in particular is a major weapon in the shortest format, so I’ve gone with a left-right wrist spin combo in Brad Hogg and Adam Zampa.
Hogg was a major factor in the Perth Scorchers’ dominance in the early seasons of the BBL. Not only was he very economical but few players could pick his wrong ‘un, which made him a frequent wicket taker in the middle overs.
Zampa had some competition from fellow leg spinner Fawad Ahmed, who has had a wonderful BBL career. I was swayed by Zampa’s better variations in speed as well as his far greater experience and success at international level.
Behind that pair of wrist spinners this side also has two handy off spin options in Glenn Maxwell and Brad Hodge, who was underutilised across his long T20 career in which he took 60 wickets at 22 with an economy of 7.80.
Roarers will note the absence of a menacing fast bowler. Australia’s best strike quicks have had limited BBL exposure due to the international duties of the likes of Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Johnson, Pat Cummins, Ryan Harris and Josh Hazlewood.
I considered the likes of Shaun Tait and Nathan Coulter-Nile to play such an enforcer role but decided instead to go for the guile and befuddling variations of Andrew Tye and Ben Laughlin, with James Faulkner as the bowling all-rounder.
While Tye and Laughlin could be vulnerable on smaller grounds in other parts of the world, the big outfields in the BBL means their lack of pace on the ball makes it hard for batsmen to get after them.
Faulkner can swing the new ball and offers a third death bowling option alongside Tye and Laughlin.
The batting was easier to settle upon. Aaron Finch and Chris Lynn have bullied new-ball bowlers season after season in the BBL. They would have licence to tee off from ball one due to the presence of two insurance policies behind them at three and four.
First drop Shaun Marsh might just be the most consistent BBL batsman of all time, the perfect man to play the anchor role. At No. 4 Hodge too is well suited to that task yet is also a tremendously versatile player capable of cutting loose if the circumstances require it.
No. 5 needs to be destructive, needs to be able to dash from ball one and needs to be able to murder spin. That’s Glenn Maxwell all over. Then there’s the final spot – the wicketkeeper – which was a battle between Matt Wade and Alex Carey.
Because they’re batting at No. 6 in this line-up behind five gun batsmen, they aren’t often going to have a major role to play with the blade. So I gave heavier weighting to their glovework, which tipped things in favour of Carey.
So, what do you think, Roarers? Have I nailed this line-up or made a mess of it?