This is the unfinished draft of my blog for the KFC T20 Big Bash League. I saw it as a shame to leave it in my drafts even though it’s late. Enjoy.
The Big Bash League (BBL) is here and set to start in mid-December, sponsored by KFC. This competition involves eight, city based teams all with unique and modern monikers, bright new colours and more importantly, some of the best cricketing talent from all over Australia and the rest of the world. This is set to be the start of a new revolution in Australian domestic cricket with this Twenty20 competition about to begin its inaugural season. With teams based in Brisbane, Hobart, Adelaide and Perth with two teams in Sydney and Melbourne, this new competition is sure to create fierce new rivalries and a new era in Australian cricket. This is very exciting stuff.
When the details for the BBL were first drafted, player squads, international player limits, salary caps and ownership privatization were all part of the plan. Each franchise was advised of a month(-ish) long period in which they could negotiate player contracts, by the end of which they must have the minimum 14 players in their preliminary squad with no more than 18 players all up. Within minutes of this opening, two of the biggest signings of the competition were made. Australian opening T20 batsman and one of the most dangerous men in world cricket, David Warner, and the most flamboyant and aggressive batsmen from the West Indies, Chris Gayle, were both signed by the Sydney Thunder. Immediately, everyone knew this was a serious competition. The game was on. It started, right now!
From here, each team assembled what they thought would be a match winning squad, signing the very best in batsmen, the most dangerous bowlers and a bunch of new, young talent sure to let loose in this new generation of cricket. So from here I would like to express my thoughts on all eight franchises, their rosters and all other BBL related news pertaining to the teams. I’d like to acknowledge whoever made the Big Bash Board (http://bigbashboard.com/), this is where I am obtaining the majority of my information from. Check it out if you’re interested, there’s heaps of interesting statistics even team comparisons, its pretty cool.
Starting with the Sydney Thunder. Right out of the blocks quickly, signing the most dangerous opening partnership available in world cricket. West Indian Chris Gayle (68 matches, over 2,100 runs with 205 fours and 131 sixes) and Local boy David Warner (the most experienced of the squad with over 100 T20 matches, amassing almost 3,000 runs at a strike rate of 140, 296 fours and 114 sixes to his name). And after their latest Champions League meeting in the NSW v Bangalore match-up, the Thunder are surely licking their lips about signing these two. Warner was named captain of the Thunder, a man who has hit the most sixes at the Thunder home ground, ANZ Stadium. The choice of venue for the Thunder is ideal. It’s got a capacity of 82,000 which although won’t be reached, provides a large range of viewing areas for the spectators to watch the game from any angle they please. The Thunder will be fitted in a bright, electric green strip with a yellow-ish thunderbolt shaped T over the stomach. Very bright, so it will stand out against the mostly darker colours of the other teams. One notable signing is their wicketkeeper, Daniel Smith, who will double as a player and the Assistant Coach. The Thunder’s second international signing is West Indies fast bowler, Fidel Edwards. Sure to bring some fire to a bowling line up with the likes of Australian international and cult icon Doug Bollinger, and the unorthadox Scott Coyte. The top order for the Thunder is very solid, with Champions League hero Phil Hughes, as well as Usman Khawaja and Craig Phillipson to bolster the batting, the Thunder are sure to put on big scores at ANZ which has short straight boundaries when the pitch is east/west instead of north/south (that it should be, but thats another argument). One player in the Thunder line-up to keep an eye on IMO is young Sean Abbott. I have heard a lot of good things about him from people within my local district cricket association and if given a shot with some superstars, Abs is certain to step up to their level on a regular basis.
Cross town rivalries will be ever present in the first BBL season and none more so that the Sydney Showdown, the Thunder up against the Rockstars of the competition, the Sydney Sixers! The Sixers are making bold moves, particularly with their choice of colour. PINK! (or, magenta… but who’s getting tied down on specifics?) It’s different, it will stand out, it encapsulates Sydney fairly well, many believe the colour choice was a throw back to the Mardi gras which is held in Sydney,also this decision provides an opportunity for the Sixers to make a potential connection with the McGrath Foundation and support a great cause and helping out a former NSW great. Playing out of the picturesque Sydney Cricket Ground (which will host its first domestic T20 match during the BBL) for the first game of the tournament against the Brisbane team. Captained by Australian wicketkeeper Brad Haddin who brings with him 36 games experience with over 550 runs with 44 fours and 17 sixes. Joining him at the top end of the batting order will be dual Alan Border medallist Shane Watson (66 matches, over 1,700 runs, 152 fours and 83 sixes as well as 55 wickets) and English T20 opener Michael Lumb (103 matches, just under 2,200 runs, 285 fours, 71 sixes and a highest score of 124*) both of which boast a T20 batting strike rate of over 140.00. The Sixers have brought home batsman Ed Cowan from Tassie, as well as making some major all rounder signings of Moises Henriques (40 matches, 550 runs and 31 wickets), Steve Smith (41 matches, over 400 runs and 42 wickets) and Steven O’Keefe (11 matches, almost 100 runs and 10 wickets).
The 8th of January, 2012.These two Sydney warhorses will come to battle at ANZ Stadium Homebush. 6pm on a Sunday night, any cricket fans in Sydney should get along to the game. It’s sure to be a cracker!
Parallel to the Sydney derby, Melbourne also has their own version of the cross-city clash with the Stars and the Renegades based in the south. This rivalry shows a number of similarities to the Sydney derby with teams in similar colour shades and an East v West theme sure to bring fire to each meeting of these powerhouses.
Starting with the MCG based Stars in their green uniforms, who appear to have scouted a lot of experience with Skipper Cam White, and fellow all-rounders Adam Voges and England import Luke Wright all playing over 70 T20 matches and David Hussey playing a massive 155 games in total. These four powerhouses are sure to make up the spine of the Stars line-up, lifting the squad and carrying the team to victory. With almost 10,000 runs between the four of them, 4 hundreds, strike-rates of 130+ and almost 400 sixes hit. Others to keep an eye on from the batting line up include ex-Tasmanian George Bailey, former banana bender Chris Simpson and two Victorians in Matthew Wade and Rob Quiney. The Stars’ bowling line-up isnt to be scoffed at either, boasting Australian star Peter Siddle, locals Clint McKay, James Pattinson and John Hastings and another Tassie in James Faulkner. Factor in spinner Jon Holland and you’ve got a very handy squad playing out of Australia’s largest capacity stadium.
Over to the west of the MCG, we have Etihad Stadium, which you may remember as the Telstra Dome where in 2005, Australian batsman Mike Hussey once hit a ball so high, it hit the roof! Playing out of this unique stadium we have the Melbourne Renegades in a vivid red shirts. Probably the most interesting part about the Renegades squad is that they have no Cricket Australia contracted players, the only Big Bash League team in the competition in this situation. However, the Renegades have probably the strongest squad in the league. With Brad Hodge’s 3600+ runs at 35 with almost 400 fours and 90 sixes at the head of a strong batting line up. Shaun Tait and Dirk Nannes blistering pace to open the bowling with almost 240 wickets between them and strike rates of 17 or less. The Renegades have also made one of the biggest international signings of the league with Pakistani all rounder and T20 superstar, Shahid Afridi who has 1300 runs at a strike rate of 157.66 and 112 wickets at 17.92 giving him the Renegades’ highest individual batting strike rate and bowling average. The Renegades have also picked up former West Australian spin bowler Aaron Heal, as well as confirming Victorians Andrew McDonald and Aaron Finch, both of which are sure to provide tons of entertainment for the Etihad crowds. The Renegades’ second international signing is Afridi’s international teammate Abdul Razzaq, a handy all rounder with 1500 runs and 90 wickets. I’m already looking forward to the 30th December when the Renegades travel to ANZ Stadium to play the Sydney Thunder.