Tomorrow night’s match may not be a clash of the titans, but for these two teams its imperative that they start winning at a regular rate if they’re to keep in reaching distance of this year’s BBL finals. After registering their first win of the tournament against the Scorchers on Saturday, the Brisbane Heat now set their sights on the Thunder who’ve looked shaky in recent times. A narrow-victory in Perth along with two losses in the space of three games has the Thunder nation slightly panicking, they don’t look like the well-oiled machine they first set out to be in their opening BBL08 match.
This could be the Thunder’s most important game in the tournament yet, and there’s a definitive reason for it. After this home game against the Heat, English-duo Jos Buttler and Joe Root will be departing the squad. While Joe Root’s time in Australia has been ‘questionable’ representing the Thunder, his partner has been the standout batsman of the tournament so far. Topping the BBL08 leading run scorers with 268 including three half centuries to go with it, Buttler has been the impact player Sydney was looking for this season. This being his final appearance for the Thunder in BBL08, Buttler will no-doubt be looking to exit the tournament in style with a big performance with the willow tomorrow evening at Spotless Stadium. Looking further ahead, this team has some major problems looming after the two Englishmen have departed. Skipper Shane Watson and middle order batsman Jason Sangha have shown no signs of finding form at the crease, both are averaging under 18 in the tournament and haven’t really produced anything special apart from Sangha who scored that unbeaten 63 in their BBL08 opener at Canberra.
Persisting with a three-man spin attack, the Thunder might just about be ready to call it quits on that experiment. Although he’s been economical at times, Jono Cook just isn’t impacting the contest. Crafty-veteran Fawad Ahmed is the Thunder’s best avenue to taking wickets out of the three, Chris Green is seen more as a well-rounded T20 player who gives the team plenty of value with the bat, in the field and with the ball. Daniel Sams continues to fulfil his spot in the team as the all-rounder, the 26-year-old has done his job so far in BBL08 with bat & ball which should allow overseas-duo Chris Jordan and Anton Devcich to slot right in when they touch down in Australia. It’s always an uphill battle when coming up against the Brisbane Heat’s batting line-up, that’s where the Thunder will be tested big time.
Another disappointing start to the BBL for the Brisbane Heat sees them playing catch up cricket yet again, something no team wants to find themselves doing at this stage in the tournament. Does the punishment fit the crime? Well, looking at their four performances in BBL08, seventh position on the standings isn’t too far off. Defeating the Scorchers away from home was just what the Heat needed to try and salvage their campaign, but this batting line-up can’t keep functioning like it currently is. It’s been New South Wales teenager Max Bryant who has brought some more energy & excitement to Brisbane’s top order, he’s been letting off sparks against the new ball and has a very similar mentality to the bash brothers. That can be seen as a huge positive given what he’s shown us, but the down side is the duration of his innings. We’ve seen the worst of Brendon McCullum this season, an average of 7.50 suggests his risk-for-reward approach hasn’t paid off which as a result has hurt the Heat. Bryant can’t afford to fall into that trap, thankfully skipper Chris Lynn hasn’t lost his touch at No. 3 averaging 44.75 in BBL08.
Sweep-specialist Alex Ross continues to be shunned in the squad, that’s despite Joe Burns averaging 16, McCullum 7.50 & Sam Heazlett 1.33. Instead the Heat have included both Matt Renshaw and Marnus Labuschagne for this upcoming clash in Sydney. Proving to be the match-winner in Perth, all-rounder Ben Cutting’s power-hitting proved vital late in the innings despite having some trouble staying on his feet. Afghani spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman produced a stunning spell to silence the Scorchers batsmen, the 17-year-old’s 2/10 off four overs left the home side short of runs in the end. Brisbane have quite an underrated fast bowling attack, James Pattinson has looked dangerous at times in BBL08 and Josh Lalor, Ben Cutting and Brendan Doggett can all produce variable bounce on just about any wicket in the country. The Heat just need their batsmen to capitalize with the bat, too often this season they’ve found themselves three down for not many runs.
Top 5 fantasy picks | Sydney Thunder | BBL | 24th match | Spotless Stadium, Sydney
- Jos Buttler
- Daniel Sams
- Callum Ferguson
- Fawad Ahmed
- Joe Root
Wildcard pick – Shane Watson
Top 5 fantasy picks | Brisbane Heat | BBL | 24th match | Spotless Stadium, Sydney
- Chris Lynn
- Max Bryant
- Josh Lalor
- Ben Cutting
- Mujeeb Ur Rahman
Wildcard pick – Joe Burns
Sydney Thunder (possible) – 1. Jos Buttler (wk) 2. Shane Watson © 3. Callum Ferguson 4. Joe Root 5. Jason Sangha/Arjun Nair 6. Daniel Sams 7. Chris Green 8. Gurinder Sandhu 9. Jono Cook/Nathan McAndrew 10. Sam Rainbird 11. Fawad Ahmed.
Brisbane Heat (possible) – 1. Max Bryant 2. Brendon McCullum 3. Chris Lynn © 4. Matt Renshaw/Marnus Labuschagne 5. Joe Burns 6. Ben Cutting 7. Jimmy Peirson (wk) 8. James Pattinson 9. Josh Lalor 10. Brendan Doggett/Mitch Swepson 11. Mujeeb Ur Rahman.
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.