With 30 matches completed, we are almost halfway through the 10th season of the Big Bash League. Exciting new rules have added to the flavor this season but the teams are still getting used to them. We have seen on occasions – Melbourne Renegades being the latest examples – of teams missing out on an easy Bash Boost Point due to lack of intention to achieve it. Whereas Perth Scorchers are yet to use the X-Factor sub.
Despite the shenanigans, it is still about the team playing good cricket throughout the 40 overs. At the halfway stage here is how things stack up for the top-4 teams on the points table-
Current Position – 1
Season Form: L W W W W L W L
The defending champs are the table-toppers after 30 games. Though it is fair to say that they have not looked as dominant as the city rivals who have played one game less. The strongest aspect of their game is multiple players capable of delivering. Josh Philippe, Daniel Hughes and Jordan Silk all average above 30 this season and the presence of James Vince is assuring. Their run-rate of 8.6 is next to only Thunder’s 9.2.
The biggest disappointment of the season for the Sixers has been their pace bowling. The collective economy of their pacers has been 8.6 – second highest after Renegades’ 9.5. Their spinners have been able to save face with both Steve O’Keefe and Benjamin Manenti keeping an economy of around seven.
Another aspect going against them is their performance in the Power Surge. They have got the worst of both worlds as their economy of 12.8 in the two-over phase is the highest while their run-rate of 9.1 is the lowest. On a positive note, Mitchell Starc has not yet pulled out of the tournament and might well be available for the Sixers in the business end of the season.
Current Position - 2
Season Form: L W W W W W L
Five Ws in a row speaks a lot about Thunder’s thunderous campaign so far. They have been the best batting side. Alex Hales’ destructive form has made them the fastest scoring team. In addition, they have the best batting average as well, as a consequence of the solidity provided by the skipper Callum Ferguson at number 3. Sam Billings is a great inclusion to their side and Oliver Davies has been good enough to keep Alex Ross on the bench. Then there are the all-rounders, Ben Cutting, Daniel Sams and Chris Green who deepen the batting line-up.
They have not been the worst with the ball if not the best. Tanveer Sangha has turned out to be a revelation with 13 wickets in eight games. It won’t be wrong to say that he has been the best wrist-spinner in the competition with a better bowling strike-rate than that of Rashid Khan (11.3 in comparison to Rashid’s 15.5).
Thunder now need more results from their pace department which has brought 22 wickets at bowling strike-rate (20.1 balls per wicket) which is only better than that of Renegades’ (22.4 balls per wicket). The onus is on Adam Milne, Nathan McAndrew, Chris Tremain and Sams.
Current Position – 3
Season Form: W W L W L W W L
Matthew Wade’s rejuvenated form earned him a call-up to the Australian team. It meant Hobart Hurricanes were bereft of their first choice opener, captain and wicketkeeper. However, with some smart recruiting, the Hurricanes were able to fill those voids effectively. They did the most number of signings for the season and the new recruits have contributed in the Hurricanes racing to 18 points in eight games.
They have been one of the better batting sides in the season despite D'Arcy Short’s low returns - only one fifty in the season as yet. Credit goes to the fine form of Ben McDermott, Dawid Malan, Colin Ingram and Tim David, the latter three of which are amongst the new signings. Malan was the number one T20I batsman heading into the tournament and has done justice to his reputation. Ingram has played a number of crucial cameos and David, a Singapore international, has provided the long handle whenever the side has required quick runs. McDermott is the highest run-scorer in the tournament - 277 runs at an average of 55.4 while striking at 136.4
The bowling has backed them up. Riley Meredith and Nathan Ellis have helped their prospects as future Australia internationals. Scott Boland has been a shrewd operator. James Faulkner is out injured but Sandeep Lamichhane’s addition has made their overall attack sharper.
Overall, the Hurricanes have little to fret about. They will miss Ingram post January 14th but 'The Cane Train' has enough fuel in their batting to surge to the playoffs without him.
Current Position - 4
Season Form: L W L W W L L W
One of the best bowling sides in the season thus far, Strikers’ campaign has unfortunately drawn parallels with their pedestrian batting. It was only in their last match, against the struggling Melbourne Renegades, that they lifted themselves from the last spot in terms of batting strike-rate. Phil Salt, supposed to be the aggressor, has scored only 131 runs in eight innings and the others have not found boundaries at a desirable rate.
Jake Weatherald, the other opener, also struggled at the top and has been pushed down to number five and six. The change in the batting order has worked well with Weatherald scoring 34* and 51 (off 25 balls) in the two innings down the order, providing a late push to the run-rate.
With the ball, Rashid Khan has found apt support around him except a handful of games. The youngster, Wes Agar is the season’s highest wicket-taker in the middle-overs phase, pouching nine wickets in eight games. Peter Siddle has got his yorkers right, bagging a five-for as well. The left-arm spinner, Danny Briggs is the only missing piece in their bowling jigsaw.
Strikers are placed fourth right now in a stop-start season. They need momentum and a lot depends if their batting can step up more consistently.
All data till Match 30th played on January 06, 2021.