After an entertaining tournament opener at Spotless Stadium in Sydney, the BBL heads to Brisbane tomorrow night where the infamous “Bash bros” will reunite against a Melbourne Stars outfit consisting of headline acts such as “the big show” and “KP”, it promises to be a mouth-watering contest.
Hands down the most entertaining team in the competition by a country mile, the Brisbane Heat are always a huge threat for the BBL title, and 2017-18 is no different. When people mention the Brisbane Heat, I can guarantee you that the first thing you think of is the “Bash bros”, or more familiarly known as Brendon McCullum and Chris Lynn. These two batsmen are freaks of the modern game, when you think of Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers as a trio in the IPL representing the Royal Challengers Bangalore, this BBL combination is becoming just as well known given how prolific the pair were in BBL 06. As a former International star for New Zealand, Brendon McCullum has adapted to life as a twenty20 specialist which has given him the opportunity to pair up with Australia’s Chris Lynn who is almost a prototype of the format, he’s one of the cleanest ball strikers going around and barely fails to dispatch attempted sixes into the crowd. Ducking for cover in the stands sums these two batsmen up, but it’s not just McCullum & Lynn the Stars have to worry about. Below the biggest batting duo in the franchise, the Heat have even more firepower with Joe Burns, Alex Ross, Jimmy Peirson and Ben Cutting in their armoury. Joe Burns is a fluent scorer in boundaries whilst Alex Ross provides some of the best slog-sweeping the game has to offer, proving the job is far from done once the Bash bros depart.
Having had so much success with their batting, the Heat bowlers can often afford to be a little-expensive which may sound strange, that’s not to say they are protected by countless unreachable totals though. What it does do is allow Brisbane’s bowling attack to bowl with more freedom and experimentation in search of more wickets, McCullum was predominantly flexible with his fields and bowling changes during BBL 06 which resulted in some left-field options that raised some eyebrows. Joe Burns was just one of many tactical moves that turned out to be one of McCullum’s masterstrokes, handing the 28-year-old the ball against the Sixers and knocking back Nic Maddinson’s stumps in the first over of the innings. Pakistan’s Shadab Khan is set to play the first three games for the Heat, the leg-spinner picked up 3/7 in his T20 International debut against the West Indies earlier this year. Seamer Mark Steketee will be a required contributor in the wickets department in BBL 07, while Mitch Swepson impressed in the previous BBL tournament with his leg-spin and was used really productively under McCullum’s captaincy in 2016-17. All-rounder Ben Cutting is one who needs to improve on his output with the ball, he’s been far to expensive without taking wickets in his past three campaigns with the Heat, solely relying on his batting to survive the criticism.
Easily, if not the biggest franchise in the BBL, It’s about time the Melbourne Stars repay their loyal supporters with some silverware at the MCG. The BBL is now in it’s seventh year, and the Stars have only made one appearance in the final which was in BBL 05 when they finished runner-up to the Sydney Thunder. It’s crucial that they start the tournament well, mainly because they’ll most-likely be losing James Faulkner, Glenn Maxwell, Adam Zampa and maybe even Marcus Stoinis for the ODI series against England followed by the T20 International series featuring New Zealand and England. For the time being though, a lot will be expected of Glenn Maxwell who really is the supreme entertainer once he gets going with the bat. Maxwell’s freakish-skills in the field along with his handy off-spin are great assets to the side, but it’s his unorthodox & flashy stroke-play that really does make him a match winner. In red-hot form with the bat in the Sheffield Shield, expect to see some fireworks up at the Gabba from the big show. Having been a flamboyant stroke maker for a lengthy period of time, former England superstar Kevin Pietersen might be going around for the final time in his cricketing career which is a shock to many, but understandable at the same time. Focusing on this upcoming clash with the Heat, Pietersen is the focal point for the Stars at No. 3 and can either swing like a rusty gate, or take on the challenge of matching the “Bash bros”.
A much-welcomed addition to the squad has been Ben Dunk who had a brilliant BBL 06 with the Adelaide Strikers, scoring the most runs overall in the tournament with 364 & averaging 52 with the bat. Both Luke Wright and Marcus Stoinis will also strengthen the line-up, but it may be Stoinis’s bowling that features more-dominantly given how well-stocked the Stars are in the batting order in this first match. Similar to Sean Abbott (albeit not as effective), Marcus Stoinis is a bowler that has variety which is extremely handy when batsmen are looking to smack you over the fence every ball in a format like this. In that same category is James Faulkner who, in recent times has struggled to have an impact in competitions like this. The theory is that batsmen have worked out Faulkner’s variations and tactical ploys, but he’s still taking wickets in the IPL and could very-well be Lynn & McCullum’s kryptonite taking the pace off the ball. The Stars probably have just as much variety in their bowling attack as they do with their batting, Michael Beer and Adam Zampa will provide alternative options in the spin department and newly appointed skipper John Hastings will team up with Scott Boland in the fast bowling cartel, although they might be reduced to tears if the Heat batsmen get a hold of them.
Top 5 fantasy picks | Brisbane Heat | BBL | 2nd match | Brisbane
- Chris Lynn
- Brendon McCullum
- Shadab Khan
- Joe Burns
- Mark Steketee
Wildcard pick – Alex Ross
Top 5 fantasy picks | Melbourne Stars | BBL | 2nd match | Brisbane
- Glenn Maxwell
- Ben Dunk
- Kevin Pietersen
- James Faulkner
- John Hastings
Wildcard pick – Michael Beer
Brisbane Heat (possible) – 1. Jimmy Peirson (wk) 2. Brendon McCullum (c) 3. Chris Lynn 4. Alex Ross 5. Joe Burns 6. Sam Heazlett 7. Ben Cutting 8. Shadab Khan 9. Mark Steketee 10. Mitchell Swepson 11. Josh Lalor/Brendan Doggett.
Melbourne Stars (possible) – 1. Ben Dunk (wk) 2. Luke Wright 3. Kevin Pietersen 4. Glenn Maxwell 5. Marcus Stoinis 6. Seb Gotch/Evan Gulbis 7. James Faulkner 8. John Hastings (c) 9. Adam Zampa 10. Scott Boland 11. Michael Beer.
Zak Varik is an Australian columnist/writer who specializes in the sports category cricket. With over four years of experience covering all sorts of cricket tournaments around the world, Zak has gained extensive knowledge in International cricket as well as domestic.
“I’ve loved watching cricket since I was about 7 years old, my childhood hero was none other than Andrew “Roy” Symonds who probably enhanced my love of the game through the years”.
Zak is now an established writer for FCN (Fantasy Cricket News) and has also previously represented other Blogs during his time as a writer.