26/05/2024

These players could win your team the BBL10 title (Source: Cricket.com.au)

After a thrilling season that went down to the wire in Tuesday’s triple header, your BBL10 finalists are locked in. It’s time to meet the contenders and determine what they need to do to go the whole way.

Sydney Sixers:

Position: 1st

How they’ve performed:

The Sixers have been consistent and posed as a threat as they looked to defend their title, utilising the Bash Boost Point better than any other team.

Collectively, they’ve made 2,315 runs, the second-highest team aggregate, and were one of two teams to reach 200 runs in a game. Josh Phillipe has been prolific, but plenty of other batsmen have also shown their class. Jordan Silk has improved enormously to become a useful link in the middle order. He stood out in the field, taking 13 catches, the most by any non-wicketkeeper. Dan Hughes, Moises Henriques, and James Vince buoy up the middle order while Dan Christian and Jordan Silk offer one last push. As expected, their batting lineup – consistent and reliable, full of clean, but fiesty, powerful hitters, adding tremendous depth down the order.

The Sixers’ bowling can be expensive, however, they have taken 91 wickets, the highest in the competition. Englishman Jake Ball is the most expensive of the group conceding nearly 11 runs an over. Ben Dwarshuis is the leading wicket-taker for the Sixers with 17 wickets, while West Indian recruit Carlos Brathwaite, has been serviceable with 15 wickets across the competition. 

Key Player:

At 23 years old, Josh Phillipe has impressed as the leading run-scorer for much of the tournament with 454 runs and a dangerous strike rate of 150.00. He is a bowler’s worst nightmare as he is extremely difficult to remove, often only doing so once the damage is done. As a wicketkeeper, he broke the record for the most dismissals in a series with 15.

Australian selectors could not ignore his proficiency and consistency, with selection on the upcoming T20 tour to New Zealand, putting Phillipe in the frame for a national debut.

How they can win:

The men in magenta are a balanced side and can be boosted further by the inclusion of Sean Abbott and Moises Henriques, but to win, they need to rely more on the bat than ball. Phillipe is crucial, but he can’t shoulder all the responsibility, needing the usual support from teammates like Dan Christian, Jordan Silk, and Dan Hughes. This same side won it last year, there is nothing to suggest they can’t go back to back.  

Perth Scorchers:

Position: 2nd

How they’ve performed:

After losing four in a row at the beginning of the series, few people expected them to clinch ­­2nd place come season’s end.

The Scorchers made 2247 runs all thanks to a deep batting lineup that reached the 50 run milestone 13 times – the most of all sides.

Englishmen Liam Livingstone and Jason Roy were late to the party after 14 days in quarantine, but quickly formed the best opening partnership of the tournament, combining for over 500 runs. This allowed Josh Inglis to slot in at number 4 and add depth when attacking and chasing totals. Recruiting Kiwi Colin Munro was a stroke of genius from the selectors after finishing 5th in the Golden Bat count. After rocky starts, Ashton Turner and Mitch Marsh got off the mark and scored quickly to create competitive totals.

The reliable, economical Scorchers bowling cartel of old has re-emerged, able to defend a subpar total and eliminate threats for minimal runs. Jason Behrendorff is one of the most economical bowlers in the league, Jhye Richardson is a proven wicket-taker and Andrew Tye’s bowling has gotten quicker. A side strain ruled Mitch Marsh out as a bowling option, putting pressure on Aaron Hardie and forcing skipper Ashton Turner to get creative and bowl himself or Liam Livingstone when needed.

Key Player:

It’s hard to look past the fit and firing Golden Arm winner Jhye Richardson. Finishing the season as the leading wicket-taker with 27 wickets, the young star is a hazard for anyone at the crease. You can count on him to tear through top orders and take out big names. If he bowls with his usual line, length, and threatening speed, he puts the Scorchers in an excellent position to win. He can also hit a boundary or two to give his team’s total one last boost at the end of an inning.

How they can win:

The in-form Scorchers are one of the strongest sides; nine of their best eleven have international caps. The key for them to win is Livingstone and Roy’s opening partnership. It will need to stay intact for as long as possible as it provides a solid basis for scoring and reduces pressure on the other lower-order batsmen.

Sydney Thunder:

Position: 3rd

How they’ve performed:

The Thunder took to this season like a duck to water, winning four of their first five games. They have always been toward the top of the table looking intimidating with their prolific big hitters.

Their batting is a force to be reckoned with, amassing 2831 runs across the entire season and a strike rate of 144, both the best in the league. Making totals above 200 three times. Their lineup contains powerful Englishman Alex Hales who has been in blistering form all season, taking out the Golden Bat award with 535 runs. But Callum Ferguson and Usman Khawaja were also dominant, with 380 and 310 runs respectively. Even once those three powerhouses fall, new signings for this season Sam Billings (226 runs from 9 innings) and Ben Cutting (246 runs from 12 innings) can hold their own at the crease and help bring it home.

Their bowling is nowhere near as stacked with big names but rising star Tanveer Sangha didn’t disappoint, taking 21 wickets in his maiden season. Paceman Nathan McAndrew and spinner Chris Green have continued to develop their all-round games and make meaningful contributions. Daniel Sams was traveling well with the bat and ball until his concussion and wrist injury ruled him out of part of their campaign. If Sams doesn’t return for finals, Brendon Doggett has proven his ability to swing the ball at pace with his opportunity late in the tournament.

Key Player:

The Thunder won’t have any regrets re-signing Alex Hales for a second year because he certainly delivered this season.

Even before his 110-run knock that comfortably won him the Golden Bat award, he was a fundamental part of the Thunder’s lineup and was one of two batsmen to make a ton. The run-scoring machine led the individual boundary count with 83 fours and sixes combined, with a strike rate of 163.60 runs. Once he gets fired up, the results can be devastating.

How they can win:

Like their cross-town rivals, they’re very reliant on batting. Hales will need to fire, if not, then one of Ferguson, Khawaja, Billings, or Cutting need to back themselves in and create a stand. If they do this, then they’ll be well on their way.

Brisbane Heat

Position: 4th

How they’ve performed:

The Brisbane Heat snuck into finals at the 11th hour after a thrilling win over the Perth Scorchers. They have been competitive every game this season and with the power they possess in their lineup, you can never really count them out.

They have played with and adjusted their batting lineup all season, looking for the perfect balance. Opener and captain Chris Lynn has been dominant with the bat this season since returning from a hamstring complaint, finishing as the third-highest run-scorer in the league. Jimmy Peirson stood up in his captain’s absence, kick-starting their campaign after a slow start. Marnus Labuschagne‘s inclusion offered stability in a weaker middle-order containing an out-of-form Joe Burns and Joe Denly, releasing pressure some from Max Bryant and Lynn up the top.

Golden Arm runner-up Mark Steketee took charge of their bowling cartel with his 22 wickets, with Jake Wildermuth and Xavier Bartlett coming in second best with 25 wickets combined. Losing Afghani spin sensation Mujeeb Ur Rahman wasn’t ideal; he was a prolific wicket-taker, getting 14 before his departure for national duty. However, Marnus Labuschagne and Mitch Swepson’s addition to the squad could solve their bowling woes, particularly in the spin department.

Key Player:

It’s a tough decision between Chris Lynn and Mark Steketee, both finishing in the top three of the Golden Bat and Arm race, respectively. 

Lynn has always been a Big Bash batting powerhouse, being the league’s highest all-time run-scorer with 2752 runs and counting. For him to play the way he has, even after missing 4 matches was no surprise and should fill fans with confidence to see the blaster back at his best.

Steketee has continued on his upward trajectory in Australian Cricket to have the breakout season he did. Since his debut in 2014, he has taken 64 wickets, the 22 wickets taken this season making up a third of his career total.

How they can win:

Brisbane Heat is a competitive side but is susceptible to collapse with both bat and ball. Steketee and Lynn have been standouts all season but they need support from their teammates. It can’t be a two-man show, and all-rounder Labuschagne’s timely return should add fire to the side. If they can stand strong and put on a competitive front, then they can give some of the leading contenders a scare.

Adelaide Strikers:

Position: 5th

How they’ve performed:

The Adelaide Strikers just slipped into finals thanks to victories from the Renegades and Sixers in Tuesday’s doubleheader at the MCG, helping keep their run alive following an inconsistent season.

After season-long tinkering with the top order and trying different combinations, they finally settled on Alex Carey and Jake Weatherald – the top two run-scorers in the side. This same combination won them a title in BBL07.

However English opener Phil Salt and Jonathan Wells have declined in form after outstanding performances last season. Salt is batting out of his preferred position with his strike rate decreasing from 164.09 to 130.87 and Jonathan Wells, making just over half the amount of runs he made last year. Recruit Matt Renshaw‘s failure to get going has also added to their batting woes.

The Strikers’ bowling attack is one of the strongest in the competition. ICC T20 Cricketer of the decade, Rashid Khan lead the charge momentarily, taking 16 wickets at an economy rate of 6.87 before departing for national duty. In his absence, the Strikers have struggled, but haven’t been doomed as Peter Siddle and Wes Agar have become prolific wicket-takers, finishing top 10 in the Golden Arm race. Siddle claimed 18 wickets, while Agar finished fourth with 21 wickets. Additionally, Michael Neser‘s return has bolstered their bowling.

Key Player:

Despite Alex Carey missing two matches, he still finished 4th in the Golden Arm, with 412 runs and a century to his name. While his strike rate was the lowest of the top 10 run-scorers, it didn’t hold him back as his thirst for singles, twos, and threes boosted his total.  

His performance behind the stumps was up to scratch from Australia’s white-ball keeper, taking 14 dismissals, one per game.

How they can win:

For the Strikers, their bowling is key. The team’s economy rate of 7.7 can prevent the batting focused sides from putting a large total on the board. This hinders their oppositions’ ability to score, adds pressure which causes errors, and hence wickets. Having the edge with bowling when most teams’ strengths lay in batting is fantastic, but it’s also crucial for them to settle on, and commit to a batting lineup.  

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