After a controversial finish in their previous encounter up at the Gabba, the Hurricanes-Heat rivalry has come out of nowhere with the two sides currently butting heads in the standings as well. Out of all the talking points from the 24th match, the Alex Ross run out debate remains the headline for all the wrong reasons.
After countless years of disappointment, the purple army down in Hobart finally have a reason to cheer as their home side look destine to feature in this years BBL finals. It’s no certainty, but with the Renegades losing two key individuals for the remainder of the tournament, they look set to slide down the standings which opens the door for the in form Hurricanes who arguably have the most dynamic batsman in the competition at the moment. Yep, D’Arcy Short has become the BBL’s “human highlight reel” in 2017-18 and seems to be elevating his game as the tournament progresses. To give you an indication of how dominant he’s been at the top of the order for Hobart, Short has only scored below 96 runs in one of his past four matches, averaging a colossal 119 in that period with a high score of 122 not out coming against the Heat in Brisbane.
Getting Short out early will go along way to helping teams increase their chances of winning significantly, but that’s the problem, he just doesn’t look like getting out full stop! His fellow-batting companions are currently on the biggest joy ride of their careers, the likes of Ben McDermott, Alex Doolan, George Bailey and Dan Christian have hardly had to lift a finger due to Short’s emphatic striking. Snubbed-Australian wicketkeeper Matthew Wade has also found some form at the top of the order, while George Bailey has struggled throughout the tournament which is unheard of for a player of such high quality.
It’s difficult to perform at such a high standard as a bowler in T20 cricket, especially when you’ve set the bar so high on debut in a new franchise. That seems to be the case for West Indian-born Jofra Archer who has easily been the Hurricanes most impacting bowler, and probably the best International recruit of the tournament in BBL 07. All this success early on has come at a cost though, the 22-year-old has gone for 35+ runs in his past two outings with the ball and has picked up just the one wicket. Hopefully it’s just a minor hurdle that Archer can overcome with another glistening performance on the horizon, he’s been the Hurricanes X factor in the bowling department in 2017-18. Compared to other years, BBL 07 hasn’t been Cameron Boyce’s most memorable one, but he’s certainly made an impact when it’s been required. the leg-spinner has been held wicketless four times in the tournament so far, picking up four wickets in his other two BBL appearances. With a variety of bowling options, the Hurricanes have plenty of avenues to pick up wickets, although that can come at a hefty price if it doesn’t come off.
The last time these two teams met, you could cut the air with a knife. For avid cricket followers, you know what I’m talking about and it may just have sparked Brisbane Heat skipper Brendon McCullum right off. Not in the sense that he’s directing any of his frustration towards the opposition, but he made his opinion clear that the incident wasn’t in the spirit of the game, and that Hurricanes skipper George Bailey “had missed an opportunity” when Ross was sent back to the dressing rooms. Life goes on, but for Brendon McCullum it might have put some fire in the belly which could result in some explosive fireworks if the former Black Caps excitement machine decides to flick the switch early.
With Chris Lynn out injured and the Heat opting against Jimmy Peirson opening the batting, 22-year-old Sam Heazlett’s elevation to the top of the order came as quite a surprise to many. With scores of 14, 11 & 11 in BBL 07, Heazlett’s form was questionable but the gamble to persist with him in the XI paid off, smacking 45 off 33 deliveries and putting on a 64-run opening stand with McCullum. The Heats middle order batting is constantly talked up, and rightly so. Both Joe Burns and Alex Ross were in sublime form with the bat in the opening stages of the tournament, and Ben Cutting has one of the biggest hits in world cricket at the moment which has been on display. Cutting is probably the least consistent of the three, which means one of Burns or Ross needs to fire big time if the others fail.
Not only is Brendon McCullum a superstar batsman, he’s also a brilliant captain who brings out the best in all his teammates and is one of the more tactical geniuses in the competition. The Joe Burns option fascinates me, someone who has never bowled in one-day cricket and has an action that defines his status as a specialist batsman, McCullum isn’t afraid to get in the oppositions mind. We saw Burns take the wicket of Nic Maddinson last year in the opening over, batsman dread getting out to part-timers. It’s good to see the Heat utilizing their quick bowlers as well, Mark Steketee has been back in the wickets column and Brendan Doggett just recently picked up a five-wicket haul. It’s the spinners who will play a crucial role in Hobart though, both Yasir Shah and Mitchell Swepson will be targeted on a smaller ground which should really get them motivated to defy the odds of outgunning the batsmen with short boundaries in play.
Top 4 fantasy picks | Hobart Hurricanes | BBL | 29th match | Hobart
- D’Arcy Short
- Ben McDermott
- Cameron Boyce
- Jofra Archer
Wildcard pick – George Bailey
Top 4 fantasy picks | Brisbane Heat | BBL | 29th match | Hobart
- Brendon McCullum
- Joe Burns
- Mitchell Swepson
- Josh Lalor
Wildcard pick – Ben Cutting
Hobart Hurricanes (possible) – 1. D’Arcy Short 2. Matthew Wade (wk) 3. Ben McDermott 4. George Bailey (c) 5. Dan Christian 6. Alex Doolan/Nathan Reardon 7. Simon Milenko/Tom Rogers 8. Jofra Archer 9. Cameron Boyce 10. Clive Rose 11. Tymal Mills.
Brisbane Heat (possible) – 1. Sam Heazlett 2. Brendon McCullum (c) 3. Joe Burns 4. Alex Ross 5. Ben Cutting 6. Marnus Labuschagne 7. Jimmy Peirson (wk) 8. Josh Lalor 9. Mark Steketee 10. Yasir Shah 11. Mitchell Swepson.