With the opening round of matches played, the lay of the land can still only be predicted with the ladder starting to take shape in the Big Bash League.
The Inner Sanctum recaps all the results and the biggest talking points of Round One of BBL|12.
Round One results:
Sydney Thunder (9-123) defeated the Melbourne Stars (8-122) by one wicket
Thunder: Alex Ross 28, Jason Sangha 24, Fazalhaq Farooqi 2-20, Daniel Sams 2-21
Stars: Nick Larkin 25, Joe Burns 18 (retired hurt), Nathan Coulter-Nile 3-19, Beau Webster 2-19
Adelaide Strikers (6-184) defeated the Sydney Sixers (7-133) by 51 runs
Strikers: Matt Short 84, Chris Lynn 41, Henry Thornton 4-20, Rashid Khan 3-21
Sixers: Jordan Silk 36, Josh Philippe 26, Sean Abbott 3-37, Izharulhaq Naveed 2-25
Melbourne Renegades (7-166) defeated the Brisbane Heat (6-144) by 22 runs
Renegades: Nic Maddinson 87, Andre Russell 35, Akeal Hosein 3-15, Andre Russell 1-26
Heat: Jimmy Peirson 43, Colin Munro 35, James Bazley 2-19, Matt Kuhnemann 3-32
Melbourne Stars (5-183) defeated the Hobart Hurricanes (9-145) by 38 runs
Stars: Joe Clarke 101*, Beau Webster 24, Luke Wood 3-25, Adam Zampa 3-27
Hurricanes: Matthew Wade 35, Tim David 24, Riley Meredith 2-28, Paddy Dooley 1-27
Sydney Thunder (15) defeated by the Adelaide Strikers (9-139) by 124 runs
Strikers: Chris Lynn 36, Colin De Grandhomme 33, Henry Thornton 5-3, Wes Agar 4-6
Thunder: Brendan Doggett 4, Rilee Rossouw 3, Fazalhaq Farooqi 3-20, Daniel Sams 2-23
Perth Scorchers (9/155) defeated the Sydney Sixers (117) by 38 runs
Scorchers: Aaron Hardie 55, Ashton Agar 24. Jhye Richardson 4/9 Jason Behrendorff 2/22
Sixers: Hayden Kerr 42, Jordan Silk 41, Jackson Bird 3/26, Izharulhaq Naveed 2/22
Melbourne Renegades (6-175) defeated the Sydney Thunder (6-174) by four wickets
Renegades: Aaron Finch 70*, Nic Maddinson 39, Tom Rogers 2-41, Akeal Hosein 1-22
Thunder: Rilee Rossouw 53, Alex Ross 39, Daniel Sams 3-33, Gurinder Sandhu 2-51
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Five Talking Points
1. New faces announce themselves to Australia
Three new faces in the BBL competition have taken Australia by storm with Afghani leg-spinner Izharulhaq Naveed and his fellow compatriot Fazalhaq Farooqi as well as West Indian spinner Akeal Hosein turning heads in Round One.
One of the more surprising picks made in the BBL draft in August, Sydney Sixers coach Greg Shipperd chose 19-year-old Naveed who had just 10 T20 international matches coming into the tournament.
His first-ever BBL wicket was that of the Strikers’ Chris Lynn which is sure to be a memorable one. The youngster took 2/25 and 2/22 in his first two games. his trajectory in the game will be one to watch.
Hosein had one of the best debuts that a player could expect when he faced the Brisbane Heat on Thursday. The 29-year-old didn’t get going with the bat, falling for just one run off seven balls.
However, his bowling was tight going at an economy of 3.75 off his four overs. He took the scalps of opening pair Josh Brown and Max Bryant as well as Heat captain Jimmy Peirson.
Farooqi also joined in Round One’s memorable debuts with a fantastic four overs at an economy of five, taking two wickets. The fast-medium bowler dismissed Stars batting pair Nick Larkin and Hilton Cartwright which helped the Thunder restrict the Starts to a low total of 122.
2. Aged Reds
After claiming their first championship in franchise history in BBL|08, the last three seasons have been a lean period for the Renegades. During that time they only won 10 games and focused on giving opportunities to young emerging players from the Victorian system.
But BBL|12 could be the tournament where Melbourne puts an end to its streak of three consecutive wooden spoons, with the team boasting a very different line-up, bringing in several experienced recruits over the off-season.
So far the change in direction has paid dividends, with the Renegades going two from two to start the season.
While it was familiar faces, skipper Nic Maddinson (87 runs off 49 deliveries) and Aaron Finch (70 runs off 43 deliveries), who guided the Renegades in their games against the Heat and Thunder respectively, their new recruits also stepped up.
West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell has added star power as part of his brief stint with the team, while fellow countryman Akeal Hosein has looked dangerous with his left-arm spin bowling. Jonathan Wells has failed to fire so far, but his presence in the middle order should bring stability to a team that has struggled with collapses in the past.
Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Tom Rogers are proven BBL performers who have helped bolster the Renegades’ bowling attack.
Melbourne also faces a nice problem with balancing its top order, with the injured Shaun Marsh expected to rejoin the team this week and New Zealand’s all-time leading T20I run-scorer, Martin Guptill, arriving at the end of the year once Russell departs.
3. The Thunder doesn’t strike against Adelaide
The Round One wrap wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the stunning bowling performance of the Adelaide Strikers at the Sydney Showground Stadium on Friday night.
After what seemed like an average batting display which saw two Strikers batters top-score with under 40 runs each, the Sydney Thunder put up the lowest batting total in T20 cricket history.
This bowling display was produced courtesy of Strikers pace bowlers Wes Agar and Henry Thornton, who alongside Matt Short bowled the Thunder out for just 15 runs.
With stunning figures of 5/3 (Thornton) and 4/6 (Agar), the Strikers were simply more than a class above the Thunder whose batting total included five ducks.
This win has propelled the Strikers into the ‘in-form team’ of the competition but it begs the question; Are the Thunder really that bad or are the Strikers that good?
4. Bowlers bring the Heat in Perth
It was tough going for the top orders for both sides in Perth, with the Scorchers 5/49 after 6.5 overs, thanks to a brilliant opening spell with the ball from Jackson Bird, while the Sixers also failed to fire with the bat early, slumping to 5/31 from 7.3 overs.
Only a career-best knock from Aaron Hardie (55 runs off 32 balls) helped the Scorchers to a manageable total of 155, while Jordan Silk (41 runs off 32 balls) and Hayden Kerr (42 runs off 35 balls) battled gallantly to keep the Sixers in the match.
In the end, Perth after fighting its way back into the match was carried to victory on the back of an excellent bowling display from Jhye Richardson, who took a career-best 4/9 including 18 dot balls, cleaning up the tail end to ensure the Scorchers started their title defence with a win.
Depth across the board kept the Scorchers in the game when it counted, while the Jackson Bird experiment, having been brought in to take early wickets, delivered in spades.
Overall, the match was a strong showcase of the bowling stocks of both sides, who will likely be tough to beat once again.
5. English star power
Following the disappointment of an opening night loss to the Sydney Thunder, the Melbourne Stars profited from some strong individual performances from their English signings to down the Hobart Hurricanes.
Joe Clarke proved to be the headline act at the MCG, notching an unbeaten century to propel the Stars to a match-winning first-innings total. Clarke’s power down the ground and innovative ramp shots were a real feature of his classy knock, culminating in nine fours and four sixes.
The 26-year-old’s century marked his first in the BBL, having recorded five 50s last summer. Can Clarke guide the Stars to the promised land this time around?
With the ball, left-arm seamer Luke Wood claimed some vital scalps to help the Stars successfully defend 183. Finishing with figures of 3-25 off four overs, Wood dismissed Hurricanes trio Ben McDermott, Tim David, and Jimmy Neesham.
The Stars franchise has a history of recruiting terrific cricketers from the UK.
Will this pair finally lead them to glory?
BBL|12 Round Two action kicks off with a clash between the Hobart Hurricanes and the Perth Scorchers in Launceston on Monday night.
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