The Stars will once again head into this years Melbourne Derby as the underdogs, they’ve lost their first three games of the tournament and have copped heavy-criticism from their own inner sanctum. Their crosstown rivals however, are flying at the moment and have racked up three wins in four matches.
It hasn’t been a successful start to John Hastings newly-appointed captaincy for BBL 07, his side sitting at the bottom of the standings winless & sapped of confidence. They haven’t looked particularly threatening apart from that late-innings dash from Marcus Stoinis and James Faulkner up at the Gabba against the Heat in their BBL 07 opener. The reasons are right there in front of them, the bowling has been non-effective and to costly at times with no bowler really having a presence yet when handed the ball, and the batting has been even more erratic with their star players struggling to contribute runs. Adelaide Strikers recruit Ben Dunk looked the perfect fit at the top of the order for the Stars, but since his arrival he’s had an absolute shocker with the bat. The 30-year-old has scored 0, 6 and 5 in the Stars first three games of the tournament, an unbelievable statistic given he was the leading run scorer in the previous BBL tournament. Dunk isn’t alone though, his partner at the top of the order Luke Wright hasn’t delivered what is expected of him in the opening slot, scoring a total of just 59 runs as well. Star all-rounder Glenn Maxwell hasn’t been at his dynamic best either, although he was able to break the shackles against the Heat at the MCG in their last match scoring a patient-but-unusual fifty. When the whole team is in a rut, the Melbourne Stars struggle to find an individual to lift them out of it which really does outline where they’re at as a group.
Maybe, just maybe a packed MCG crowd for the Melbourne Derby will get the likes of Luke Wright, Kevin Pietersen and Glenn Maxwell desperate to perform on the big stage, those three are destructive when the confidence is running through their veins. Peter Handscomb will be a huge inclusion, mainly because the Stars top order is lacking that stability that Handscomb brings to the side. Leaving Scott Boland out of the XI against the Heat was a surprising decision, and in the end one that didn’t really pay off. The Stars only managed to claim one wicket against the Heat at the G in just under 15 overs, James Faulkner and Adam Zampa were the only bowlers who didn’t concede ten-plus runs an over in a slogathon from Brendon McCullum and Chris Lynn. Spinner Michael Beer is not a genuine wicket taker despite his economical spells with the new ball, so the Stars will have to find wickets elsewhere if they’re to open the Renegades up. The all-rounders are the most likely to make an impact, both James Faulkner and Marcus Stoinis provide a good variety of pace which should prove effective at some stage in the innings.
Looking a major contender for the title in 2017-18, the Melbourne Renegades have shown the competition that they’re no longer a bunch of pushovers. Currently sitting fourth on the points table, they have the opportunity to excel against a struggling-Stars outfit and push their case ahead of the BBL finals. After three games of continuous failures, skipper Aaron Finch was determined to turn his misfortunes around and did so in emphatic fashion, opening his shoulders against the Sixers and cruising to his first half century of the tournament. That innings in Geelong would have got Finch’s hunger for scoring runs back in no time, so much so that he could unleash a hefty blow with the willow in this upcoming Melbourne Derby. Alongside the Renegades skippers return to form, the big-hitting Cameron White has stolen the show in BBL 07 with his red-hot form guide so far in the competition. Easily the inform batsman of the competition, White is averaging 91 in his three games as he continues to provide that X factor at No. 3. In fact, he’s been so prolific in his scoring that the likes of Tom Cooper, Brad Hodge and Dwayne Bravo have barely been required to lift a finger which is dominance at it’s very best. All more than capable of holding their own with the bat, the Renegades middle order is still a difficult area of the line-up to restrict for opposition bowlers, so the Stars will have their work cut out for them.
This is where the Renegades trump the Stars in my opinion, a much more potent bowling attack that does have the ability to produce a wicket out of nowhere. That’s been reflective in Dwayne Bravo & Brad Hogg’s impact with the ball so far in BBL 07, the pair have looked extremely threatening at times which is a major result of strangling the batsmen for runs, frustration & impatience is one of the reasons why Bravo has been so successful in this game for such a long time. His bowling should actually come into play more this game than any other, purely because the Stars have such an aggressive top order that aren’t renown for accumulating ones & twos, more so boundaries & maximums which can get teams into trouble. Afghani all-rounder Mohammad Nabi probably made his mark on the BBL for the very first time in their last match against the Sixers, opening the bowling successfully with his spin and claiming 2/22. That tactic to bowl Nabi in the opening over could well-be in play against the Stars as well, Ben Dunk has really struggled against slow bowling at the start of his innings which should prompt the move.
Top 4 fantasy picks | Melbourne Stars | BBL | 19th match | Melbourne (MCG)
- Luke Wright
- Peter Handscomb
- James Faulkner
- Glenn Maxwell
Wildcard pick – John Hastings
Top 4 fantasy picks | Melbourne Renegades | BBL | 19th match | Melbourne (MCG)
- Dwayne Bravo
- Aaron Finch
- Cameron White
- Brad Hogg
Wildcard pick – Tom Cooper
Melbourne Stars (possible) – 1. Ben Dunk 2. Luke Wright 3. Kevin Pietersen 4. Peter Handscomb (wk) 5. Glenn Maxwell 6. Marcus Stoinis 7. James Faulkner 8. John Hastings (c) 9. Adam Zampa 10. Scott Boland 11. Michael Beer.
Melbourne Renegades (possible) – 1. Marcus Harris 2. Aaron Finch (c) 3. Cameron White 4. Tom Cooper 5. Brad Hodge 6. Dwayne Bravo 7. Jack Wildermuth 8. Mohammad Nabi 9. Tim Ludeman (wk) 10. Kane Richardson 11. Brad Hogg.