Gaining some big recruits ahead of BBL08, the Melbourne Stars will be expecting some of those key players to play a crucial role in winning them their first ever BBL title. Their tournament opener kicks off in Canberra where the Sydney Thunder will also be eager to bounce back after consecutive-mediocre campaigns in BBL06 & 07.
Apart from BBL05 (2015-16) where they managed to take out the title from fourth spot on the points table thanks to a red-hot Usman Khawaja, the Sydney Thunder have been hands down the most disappointing team in the Big Bash League’s seven seasons. They’ve finished last on four occasions, and they’ve only made the finals once which saw them come out on top against the Melbourne Stars in the final. Thunder captain & former Australian all-rounder Shane Watson was their best with the bat last season scoring 331 runs at 36.77, but even he struggled at times given the lack of support from the rest of the batting order. English wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler is back for another season of BBL for Sydney, the 28-year-old managed two fifties for the Thunder in 2017-18 and will be looking to produce more of the same in BBL08. Following Buttler over from England is test skipper and one of the best modern day batsmen in the world, Joe Root. Falling out of favour with England in the T20I team, Root will be looking to prove the doubters wrong as he gears up in the lime green outfit down under.
South Australian batsman Callum Ferguson averaged just 20.40 with the bat for the Thunder in BBL07, he’s another who needs to improve on his output in order for Sydney to rise up the standings. The development of all-rounder Arjun Nair is an exciting prospect, he seems to be improving at a rapid-rate and could feature prevalently in this Thunder side yet again. 19-year-old Jason Sangha could be following in Nair’s footsteps, he was a regular in New South Wales Sheffield Shield campaign over the past couple of months and could find himself in the Thunder’s starting XI. Leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed will be hugely-relied upon to deliver another standout performance in the lime green outfit, the 36-year-old led the way for the Thunder in BBL07 with 12 wickets at an average of 20.41. Expect Chris Green and Arjun Nair’s slow bowling to be utilized throughout the tournament as well, leaving Daniel Sams and Gurinder Sandhu as the Thunder’s key seamers.
Seven seasons, six times they’ve qualified for finals, yet no silverware to show for it. I guess you could say the Melbourne Stars are one, if not the unluckiest team in the Big Bash League since its inaugural season. That’s one way of looking at it, but given they’re the biggest franchise in the league it might be that final hurdle of expectation they just can’t climb over. For the first time ever, the Stars missed out on a finals spot last season as they sunk to the bottom of the table winning just two games for the tournament. The excitement-machine that is Glenn Maxwell stood tall for the Stars in a pretty bleak season, the all-rounders 299 runs from nine matches including three half centuries gave the Melbourne fans something to cheer about. Fast-forward to now, and Maxwell will be leading the Stars out onto the field at Manuka Oval on Friday as the newly-appointed captain.
There’s no doubting that Maxwell brings the X factor, but he might have to share that mantle with new recruit Dwayne Bravo who’s made his way across town from rival-club the Melbourne Renegades. One of the main reasons the Stars struggled in BBL07 came down to their opening batting-woes, both Peter Handscomb and Ben Dunk in particular didn’t offer a lot which left the middle order trying to rebuild rather than confidently attacking. The loss of Nic Maddinson before the start of the tournament hasn’t helped, one of Nick Larkin or Travis Dean look set to replace the former Sydney Sixer at the top. It wasn’t only the Stars batting that let them down in BBL07, they struggled to take wickets at a regular rate which probably explains the recruitment of Nepal leggy Sandeep Lamichhane. Expected to team up alongside Adam Zampa, they’ll be hoping the teenager can make an early impact in the tournament. Windies all-rounder Dwayne Bravo and fan favourite Marcus Stoinis could be an ideal seam combination for the Stars in 2018-19, both have a happy knack of taking wickets when they’re handed the ball.
Top 5 fantasy picks | Sydney Thunder | BBL | 3rd match | Canberra
- Jos Buttler
- Shane Watson
- Fawad Ahmed
- Joe Root
- Chris Green
Wildcard pick – Arjun Nair
Top 5 fantasy picks | Melbourne Stars | BBL | 3rd match | Canberra
- Glenn Maxwell
- Marcus Stoinis
- Dwayne Bravo
- Ben Dunk
- Sandeep Lamichhane
Wildcard pick – Travis Dean
Sydney Thunder (possible) – 1. Jos Buttler (wk) 2. Shane Watson © 3. Callum Ferguson 4. Joe Root 5. Jason Sangha 6. Arjun Nair 7. Chris Green 8. Daniel Sams 9. Gurinder Sandhu 10. Fawad Ahmed 11. Sam Rainbird.
Melbourne Stars (possible) – 1. Ben Dunk (wk) 2. Travis Dean 3. Glenn Maxwell © 4. Marcus Stoinis 5. Nick Larkin 6. Evan Gulbis 7. Dwayne Bravo 8. Adam Zampa 9. Scott Boland 10. Jackson Coleman 11. Sandeep Lamichhane.
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.