Big Bash League may not have the glitz and glamour of the IPL but it is one of the most competitive T20 leagues in the world. In popularity, it is just below the IPL as top players from around the world, except India, participate in the league. There are some similarities between the two leagues as both feature eight city based teams that take on each other in a round robin format. One of the aspects in my mind that separates the two is the fielding display. The level of fielding in the BBL is something that you will not see in any T20 tournament around the globe. Let us start with the champions of last year and see who has a good chance this time around.
Teams and Player Analysis
Perth Scorchers won the tournament last time and headlined the Champions League, although they did not do well over there. They are a team of veterans and are often criticized for playing some older guys in a young man’s game. However, the experience has certainly helped Perth Scorchers to be one of the top teams in the BBL. They have a solid team with international players like Mitchell and Shaun Marsh, wily Brad Hogg, Adam Voges, Coulter-Nile and Yasir Arafat. However, the availability of the Marsh brothers will be in doubt due to the ongoing Test series between India and Australia. This is one of the reasons I would their chances are not too high in this edition of the BBL.
One of the most anticipated returns to cricket is of Andrew Flintoff, who will be joining the Brisbane Heat squad this year. Brisbane has an interesting mix of foreign players in the form of Badree, Vettori and Flintoff and each of them has been a match winner on their day. Badree is is one of the most economical bowlers in T20 while Vettori is quite handy with both ball and bat. Flintoff is one of the most destructive players with both ball and bat but he has been out of the cricket world for a while now. His return could be the key to Brisbane’s performance in the tournament. James Hopes is the captain and has loads of experience behind him. However, they lack the batting power especially in the absence of Shane Watson, who will be away on national duty.
Australian T20 captain, George Bailey leads Hobart Hurricanes, who are still to win the tournament. The likes of Ricky Ponting have played for the side but the championship still eludes them. Tim Bresnan and Alex Hales from England have signed up with the squad and will play key roles. Hales is an explosive opening batsman and will provide much needed momentum at the top, something the team has lacked in the past. Darren Sammy is a T20 player who has plied his trade around various T20 leagues and can be very useful for the team. They are the dark horses of the tournament but could spring a surprise or two.
Melbourne Renegades is my pick to win this tournament as they have some exceptional T20 players in their ranks. Aaron Finch at the top of the batting order, is in great form at the moment. Peter Siddle is their premiere bowler but he might miss part of the tournament due to the Test series. Dwayne Bravo and Andre Russel are no strangers to T20 cricket so this dynamic duo is expected to deliver big time for Melbourne. They are power houses when it comes to T20 cricket and hence I think they will provide the edge that is needed in this tournament. Jesse Ryder has fallen out of favor with New Zealand cricket so he will try his best to resurrect his career if possible. The shortest version of the game also suits him as he is known for his attacking game at the start of the match.
Sydney Sixers have won the tournament before but they will be without their key players like Brad Haddin, Nathan Lyon and Steven Smith at the start of the tournament. So, they might struggle a bit at the start of the tournament. However, the batting still looks strong with Dwayne Smith, Henriques, Maddinson and Lumb in the line-up. Sean Abbott, the bowler who struck Hughes on the neck will have a hard time to focus that will be another blow for the team.
The other team from Sydney is the Sydney Thunder but they do not have the best squad in my opinion. Micheal Hussey has not been at his best and he clearly struggled in bowling conditions when he played the IPL in Dubai. It looks like age has finally caught up with him even though he batted well once the IPL shifted to India. They are carrying a lot of players like Dirk Nannes and Jacques Kallis so the younger guys have to really step up. They could very well finish at the lower part of the points table this season.
Melbourne Stars is a team full of stars such as Maxwell, Pietersen, Faulkner, Wright and Cameron White. Melbourne looks like one of the strongest teams on paper and will be one of the frontrunners in the tournament. They are a little short on bowling but have a lot of all-round options at their disposal. I expect them to make the play-offs easily.
Last but not the least; Adelaide Strikers will be an emotional team after having lost Phil Hughes just recently. The outpour of emotions has been overwhelming and the players will not have fully recovered from the loss as yet. Hughes made the switch to Adelaide Strikers and featured in seven matches for them. He would have opened for them this season but one of the biggest tragedies in the cricketing world prevented it. Adelaide players will try that extra bit harder to honor the loss of a hero and they sure have the firepower in both batting and bowling with the likes of Pollard, Tait, Botha, Hodge and Ten Doeschate. They have not been the best team in BBL but this could just be their year and surely they will play their hearts out in order to honor the memory of Phil Hughes.
Our Predictions of the Big Bash League 2014-15 Winner
This year’s BBL will be an emotional one for a lot of Australian players due to recent events. But cricket is sure to move forward and it should be a great tournament as domestic players will be eyeing a berth for the World cup coming up in Australia in a short while. We like Melbourne Stars to take it all when you can get the generous odds of 4.33 at Bet365. Plenty of value on a team that we believe have the necessary edge to stand a bit above the rest of the teams.