Twenty20 Big Bash Preview: First match 30/12/10 – final on 5/2/11.
Bright lights. Capacity crowds. Electric atmosphere. Blaring music. Big hits.
No, this is not an all-in brawl in the crowd at an Akon concert. This is the Twenty20 Big Bash and it’s about to capture the attention of every Australian cricket fan.
Since the league’s inception back in 2005, Cricket Australia has turned the Big Bash into one of the most successful sports competitions in the country. In fact, experts have hailed it as one of cricket’s biggest novelties since the introduction of World Series Cricket back in 1975.
Six teams from each Australian state will go head-to-head in what is sure to be an enthralling spectacle for spectators both at the ground and watching on television. Western Australia and Tasmania will kick start the competition on December 30 at the WACA and the final will be hosted by the number one ranked team from the round robin competition on February 5.
NEW SOUTH WALES BLUES
Past Performances in the Big Bash: 2nd, 6th, 4th, 1st, 5th
First Match: v South Australia Redbacks on 4/1/11, 7pm (local time) at Adelaide Oval
Key Player: Not too many players consider themselves Twenty20 specialists, but David Warner certainly can. The 24-year-old has scored 399 runs from 15 Big Bash matches at a phenomenal strike rate of 171.24. It wasn’t too long ago when the left-handed opening batsman smashed 89 against South Africa at the MCG and announced himself as one of the most intimidating Twenty20 players in the world – despite the fact he only stands at 170cm. Opposition teams must dismiss Warner early, otherwise he will take the game away from them.
International Signing: TBA
The Blues have been the most inconsistent Big Bash team since the competition began six years ago. They made the final in the 2008-09 season and then went on to win the Champions League in India that same year. However they failed to qualify for the 2010 league after finishing fifth last season.
New South Wales could be without a lot of its first choice players for the opening few matches with Phillip Hughes, Shane Watson, Steve Smith and Brad Haddin all busy with national commitments. But with Warner and Phil Jaques at the top of the order and a variety of bowling options, the Blues should improve on last season’s disappointment.
Past Performances in the Big Bash: 4th, 5th, 5th, 3rd, 3rd
First Match: v Victoria Bushrangers on 2/1/11, 7pm (local time) at MCG, Melbourne
Key Player: Statistically, Nathan Rimmington has been one of the best fast bowlers throughout the short history of the Big Bash. The 28-year-old has taken 26 wickets from 17 matches, with best bowling figures of 5/27 – which included a rare hat-rick – against Tasmania in 2007. Rimmington not only takes plenty of early wickets, but he also specialises in bowling at the end of an innings, a skill so crucial if you want to be a successful in Twenty20 cricket.
International Signing: Michael Lumb (England)
The Bulls continue to improve in the short form of the game but still lack the class and poise to take the next step. But this young team is beginning to build some team chemistry and this could be the year where they progress through to the final and earn a spot in the Champion’s League.
A lot of pressure will be on captain James Hopes, a player with plenty of One-Day and Twenty20 experience at international level. He will need tremendous support from younger players such as Ben Dunk, Chris Lynn and Cameron Boyce as well as international recruit Lumb if the Bulls are to succeed.
SOUTH AUSTRALIA REDBACKS
Past Performances in the Big Bash: 5th, 4th, 6th, 4th 2nd
First Match: v New South Wales Blues on 4/1/11, 7pm (local time) at Adelaide Oval
Key Player: Since transferring from Victoria to South Australia, Aiden Blizzard has been nothing short of a success and now he has a chance to further prove to his former state why they should’ve given him more opportunities. The left-handed batsman announced himself as one of the most dangerous Twenty20 cricketers in the country when he thumped 89 off just 38 balls on debut for Victoria in 2007. Blizzard loves to play horizontal-bat shots through the leg side and with the Adelaide Oval’s short square boundaries, the 26-year-old power hitter is set to thrive on his new home ground.
International Signing: Kieron Pollard (West Indies)
South Australia was the biggest improver during the 2009/10 Big Bash, winning four out of their five round matches before losing to the all conquering Bushrangers in the final. But with such an evenly balanced side, there is no reason why the Redbacks can’t win the competition this year.
With players such as Michael Klinger, Daniel Harris, Blizzard, Callum Ferguson and exciting international recruit Kieron Pollard at the top of the order, it’s hard to see a bowling line-up skilled enough to bowl them out. At the change of innings, Shaun Tait is bound to terrorise opposition batsmen at the start of the innings and the in-form Dan Christian’s big hitting and accurate bowling mean the Redbacks’ chances of a maiden Big Bash trophy seem imminent.
Past Performances in the Big Bash: 6th, 2nd, 3rd, 6th, 6th
First Match: v Western Australia Warriors on 30/12/10, 5.30pm (local time) at WACA, Perth
Key Player: Tasmanian skipper George Bailey has been touted as a future Australian batsman and captain for quite some time now and he has a fabulous opportunity to push his case in the Big Bash over the next month and a half. The 28-year-old has been a vital member of Tasmania’s middle order for the last few years, scoring 431 Twenty20 runs at an average of 28.73. His consistent batting –which included four half-centuries – and outstanding leadership recently earned him an IPL spot with the Chennai Super Kings.
International Signing: Ryan ten Doeschate (Netherlands) and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan (Pakistan)
Tasmania endured another disappointing Big Bash campaign in 2009-10, finishing last for the second consecutive year and confirming their status as the worst performing team in the competition’s history. Last season was particularly substandard due to the fact the majority of the team is suited to the Twenty20 format.
However the Tigers are due for success in the Big Bash and with the squad they’ve picked they’re a good show this season. Apart from Bailey, players like Mark Cosgrove, Tim Paine and Travis Birt are all more than capable of scoring quickly with the bat in hand. International recruits ten Doeschate and Rana should lead the bowling attack with great accuracy and Xavier Doherty’s changes of pace should be very effective.
Past Performances in the Big Bash: 1st, 1st, 1st, 2nd, 1st
First Match: v Queensland Bulls on 2/1/11, 7pm (local time) at MCG, Melbourne
Key Player: There’s a not a lot of adjectives left to describe Brad Hodge’s unbelievable feats at domestic level. In 25 Big Bash matches, the 36-year-old has scored 919 runs – the highest by any Big Bash player – at an incredible average of 39.95. He’s passed 50 on six occasions, but his breathtaking 106 in the 2005-06 final against New South Wales remains one of the best Big Bash innings’ of all time. Hodge will be keen to score big again this season in order to try and impress selectors ahead of the World Cup beginning in February.
International Signing: Dwayne Bravo (Victoria) and Matt Prior (England)
Even if you weren’t an avid cricket follower, one look at the past Big Bash results and it wouldn’t be too hard to realise Victoria are clearly the most successful and consistent domestic Twenty20 team in the country. And it’s no surprise the Bushrangers have been so dominant over the last five years with the amount of quality players they possess.
Top order batsmen Hodge, David Hussey, Cameron White and Andrew McDonald have always been reliable and Aaron Finch announced himself as a player of the future last season with 189 runs at 47.25 per innings. The Bushrangers also have the left-armed Dirk Nannes, who is the leading Big Bash wicket taker with 31 from 20 matches. But after a reasonably disappointing season in the Sheffield Shield and One-Day cup so far, it could come crashing down for Victoria in the Big Bash as well.
WESTERN AUSTRALIA WARRIORS
Past Performances in the Big Bash: 3rd, 3rd, 2nd, 5th, 4th
First Match: v Tasmania Tigers on 30/12/10, 5.30pm (local time) at WACA, Perth
Key Player: As Twenty20 cricket develops, spin bowlers have increasingly becomed more important and Aaron Heal is as important as they come. According to statistics, the 27-year-old is the best and most consistent spin bowler in Big Bash history with 23 wickets from 17 matches. He has lost his place in the Warriors’ Sheffield Shield team to fellow spinner Michael Beer, but Heal’s nagging accuracy means he is one of the first players picked in the limited overs format.
International Signing: Chris Gayle (West Indies) and Sajid Mahmood (England)
Overall, the Warriors have been one of the most disappointing domestic Twenty20 sides since the Big Bash’s inception. They hosted the final back in the 2007-08 season but were still no match for the classy Victorian’s who clearly outplayed them.
Western Australia will rely heavily on the aggressive Gayle to make a big score and his ability to stamp his authority on a game with power hitting at the start of an innings. But the Warriors seem to lack the depth and firepower in their bowling attack – particularly in their pace bowlers – and might struggle to compete with some of the more established Twenty20 teams.
South Australia to win Big Bash.