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Big, brash: How your team will fare this season

Date

Jesse Hogan and Andrew Wu

West Indies' blaster Kieron Pollard will be the star of the Strikers. Click for more photos

Big Bashers, 2012/13

Stars of the Big Bash league 2012-2013 Photo: Andres Leighton

ADELAIDE STRIKERS PREDICTION: 5th

STRENGTHS
Adelaide’s batting shapes as their best asset. In Phillip Hughes and Michael Klinger they should boast one of the best opening partnerships. Hughes pulled out of last season’s BBL to focus on rebuilding his long-form technique. During the Australian winter he showed great limited-overs form in England, so much so that a national-team call-up seems a possibility. Nathan Reardon and Callum Ferguson are likely to round out the top four, with each capable of long innings if one or both of the openers fail.
 WEAKNESSES
A season-ending injury to Jon Holland has ended the possibility of a finger-spinning partnership with captain Johan Botha. Replacement Cameron Boyce does not have extensive short-form experience and, as a leg-spinner, there will be more pressure on him to maintain his accuracy. Andrew McDonald was a canny signing but he is injured.
STAR PLAYER
Kieron Pollard. While the burly West Indian is notionally an all-rounder, his bowling is too often expensive; the Strikers would be better served by treating him as a destructive batsman and not relying on him to bowl too much. Pollard is such a game-changing batsman his mere presence can panic opposition.
 X-FACTOR
Shaun Tait. When he was a national-team regular his waywardness was tolerated because of the stints where he would be unplayable and take wickets quickly. Recently, those bursts have been infrequent. He might start the season outside the team and only be included if conditions are in his favour.
JESSE HOGAN

BRISBANE HEAT PREDICTION: 4th

STRENGTHS
Just as Queensland’s success in the 1990s and early 2000s was built on their army of quicks, the
Heat are banking on pace to deliver them Big Bash glory. The signing of Dale Steyn is a huge coup, albeit for one game as shadow for Kemar Roach. The Windies’ speed demon will be available after the first game, and is using the Big Bash to acclimatise for the ODI tour of Australia later in the summer. Mitchell Johnson and Ryan Harris headline the local acts although they could be unavailable either due to national honours or injury.
 WEAKNESSES
Aside from prized recruit Shane Watson, who is likely to be on national duty for much of the tournament, the Heat lack star quality in the batting. That’s not to say they will struggle for runs but there does not appear to be a player who can strike fear into opposition attacks. Chris Lynn and Joe Burns are rising stars who will have to shoulder much of the burden for Darren Lehmann’s side.
STAR PLAYER
If Mitchell Johnson remains out of the national side, he will be a huge recruit for the Heat. Even when he was struggling on the Test scene, Johnson a big part of the ODI team because of his wicket-taking ability. Johnson showed during the Champions League for Mumbai he remains a strong Twenty20 player.
 X-FACTOR
Alister McDermott has been in and around the state scene for awhile now it’s hard to believe he’s only 21. The son of former Test star Craig McDermott, he has improved each season. A proven wicket-taker with the white ball for Queensland, McDermott will be relied upon tomake early strikes for the Heat. ANDREW WU

HOBART HURRICANES PREDICTION: 3rd

STRENGTHS
In Travis Birt and Owais Shah, Hobart boasted arguably the most destructive and most reliable batsmen last season. The Hurricanes’ batting rarely disappointed. Jon Wells’s solid performances as an opener belied his understated reputation, while fit-again wicketkeeper Tim Paine could be set to regain the opening slot he occupied so successfully in T20 before missing last season. Ricky Ponting will have a significant role after his retirement from the national team.
 WEAKNESSES
National selection will have a big bearing on Hobart’s fortunes. New captain George Bailey will struggle to be involved late in the season because of his international responsibilities, while squad member Ed Cowan will be missing on Test duty for most of the first month. The spin duo of Xavier Doherty and Jason Krejza have long been influential in short-form cricket but there is no reserve spinner for when Doherty is called up.
STAR PLAYER
Travis Birt. His performance across last season was remarkable. Last year was the first time he managed to sustain limited-overs form over a long period. The left-hander was impressive everywhere but particularly at home, where he regularly pulverised bowling and maintained a strike rate of better than 140.
 X-FACTOR
Doug Bollinger. While a lack of endurance has undermined Bollinger’s previously robust national team prospects, the left-armer remains a very dangerous pace prospect, particularly when he is only required to bowl four overs. His form for NSW in the Sheffield Shield has been ominous.
JESSE HOGAN

MELBOURNE RENEGADES PREDICTION: 6th

STRENGTHS
If the Renegades are to deliver on their potential it will almost certainly because their top three batsmen are excelling. Aaron Finch consistently excelled last season, and although it was a blow to lose his partner Brad Hodge, his replacement, Daniel Harris, seems ideal, as he can either play a supporting role to Finch or hit out when the captain is struggling. Even if one of those departs early they will be followed by the team’s gun recruit, Marlon Samuels.
 WEAKNESSES
Swing bowler Nate Rimmington is a canny pick-up but might only get a single pace partner each match, probably Jayde Herrick to start with. Herrick’s economy is not his strength, so he could be exploited,while allrounder Will Sheridan is likely to have to bowl four overs in most matches. Opponents might fancy their chances against low-profile batsmen such as Tom Cooper and Ben Rohrer.
STAR PLAYER
Aaron Finch. Finch’s performance in his few T20 appearances for Australia have proved his talent in the shortest form. Etihad’s short, straight boundaries seem tailor-made for his bludgeoned, lofted drives between mid-wicket and cover. His lead-up form in limited-overs matches was encouraging.
 X-FACTOR
Marlon Samuels. Teams’ fortunes can ride on the performances of their imports. Samuels would not have come cheaply, based on his World T20 exploits, but the Renegades needed a star batsman to round out a formidable top three. TheWest Indian can thrash ornurdle when required. His finger spin also has the potential to soak up some overs.
JESSE HOGAN

MELBOURNE STARS PREDICTION: 1ST

STRENGTHS
Quality in every area. An underperforming batting line-up from last year was remedied by big ticket replacements in Brad Hodge and Glenn Maxwell. David Hussey has been in great limited overs nick, and while Cameron White is still yet to replicate his great IPL form, he looks infinitely better than he did going into last season. New captain Shane Warne is the team’s spinner.
 WEAKNESSES
Hopes were high last season, too, but went unrealised. While the Stars reached the semi-finals, they did so without playing to their potential. Warne still retains the accuracy of his international career but lacks vicious sideways movement. His lack of structured training and playing beforehand – earlier this week he was doing TV commentary in Mumbai – has not been ideal.
  STAR PLAYER
Lasith Malinga. The Sri Lankan boasts the best of Shaun Tait, but without the waywardness. Malinga holds his own as a drawcard – his face and wild hairdo has adorned trams in Melbourne – but also as a respected strike bowler. With fellow seamers Clint Mckay and John Hastings adept at keeping the runs down, Malinga will likely attack top-order batsmen. Expect the Stars to save an over or two for him at the death, too.
 X-FACTOR
Luke Wright was promoted to opener late last the season, and responded with the highest T20 score made in Australia, 117, from just 60 balls. Since then his international career has been revived, too. He was selected in the WorldTwenty20 all-star team, and won’t be underestimated this time around.
JESSE HOGAN

PERTH SCORCHERS PREDICTION: 7th

STRENGTHS
Any batting line-up with Herschelle Gibbs and Shaun Marsh looks dangerous, particularly in the shortest form of the game. Gibbs will again be a key wicket for opposing teams, such is his ability to hit over the infield while the field is up during the opening fewovers. Marcus North, Adam Voges and Simon Katich form a solid middle order. Michael Beer is underrated as a Twenty20 bowler, and should form a good spin partnership with Brad Hogg.
 WEAKNESSES
Who knows how haunted the Scorchers remain fromtheir horror Champions League campaign?
Judging by WA’s performance since, things have not improved much. A season-ending injury to Mitch Marsh affects their team balance,while losing star signing Pat Cummins to a back injury is a big blow to their attack, which appears thin for quality pacemen. Hardly the ideal scenario given they play mostly at the WACA Ground.
STAR PLAYER
With Michael Hussey likely to be unavailable for much of the tournament, Herschelle Gibbs is shaping as the Scorchers’ only bona fide international star. The South Africanwas brilliant last summer, and with 302 runs at 42,was one of the main reasons the Scorchers went within a win of claiming the title.
 X-FACTOR
Can Brad Hogg reproduce the form from last summer that had him come out of retirement and bowl himself into the national team? His international days appear over but his left-arm wrist spin will again be a key part of Perth’s strategy with the ball. His wrong’un remains as difficult to pick as ever.
ANDREW WU

SYDNEY SIXERS PREDICTION: 2nd

STRENGTHS
Even with Pat Cummins gone, the Sixers’ attack is the envy of teams around the world. Brett Lee’s international retirement means he will be available for the whole tournament, which is a big bonus. Young guns Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood were arguably the bowlers of the tournament during their triumphant Champions League campaign. Starc was lethal with the new ball and frugal at the death, while Hazlewood’s bounce made him extremely difficult to score from at all times. Brad Haddin, Michael Lumb and Steve Smith hold the keys with the bat.
 WEAKNESSES
The Sixers might become the victims of their own success, as they could lose several key players to Test and ODI duties. Starc, Hazlewood, Smith and Moises Henriques are likely to be unavailable at some point of the tournament. This is where unheralded types such as Josh Lalor and Ian Moran and the semi-retired Dominic Thornely will have to step up.
STAR PLAYER
He might have spent more time in Channel Nine’s commentary box than on the field so far this season but Brett Lee remains a force in Twenty20s. He’s not as fast as he was in his heyday but his mix of slower-ball bouncers, changes in pace and searing yorkers is more than adequate compensation.
 X-FACTOR
Moises Henriques is enjoying clearly his best season in all forms of the game and in Twenty20s he is close to the complete package. He can be destructive with the bat in the closing overs, is very useful with the ball and also a handy fielder. He’s one player who can almost win a game on his own. The problem for the Sixers
is John Inverarity might think so as well.
ANDREW WU

SYDNEY THUNDER PREDICTION: 8th

STRENGTHS
Michael Clarke is available for one game only but he will add oomph to the Thunder’s marketing
campaign. Mark Cosgrove is a quality recruit from Hobartwhose strokeplay will lessen the pressure on Chris Gayle to fire every game. The Thunder will also need Usman Khawaja and Chris Rogers to shed stereotypes that they are not suited to the hit-and-giggle stuff.
 WEAKNESSES
The bowling is a huge concern. Left-arm quick Dirk Nannes is a proven Twenty20 player but take himout and they are not strong on firepower. Scott Coyte will need to reproduce his best form but Chris Tremain, who is highly rated, Luke Doran and Gurinder Sandhu are new to the scene, and will be targeted by rival teams. Aside from Gayle, the Thunder are short of match winners, which is why Shahid Afridi’s late withdrawal was such a cruel blow.
STAR PLAYER
Chris Gayle is the coolest cricketer in the world and the hottest Twenty20 batsman. Some have criticised him for being mercenary but there’s not one team he has played for that has not got bang for their buck. His record of 4332 runs at an average of 44.2 over 117 games is proof.
 X-FACTOR
Mark Cosgrove might not be one of the fittest players but there is no doubting his ability to hit a ball – he wasn’t called "Baby Boof" just because he shared the same physique as Darren Lehmann. At his best, Cosgrove is a heavy hitter at the top of the order who is capable of feasting on opposition attacks. Young NSW quick Tremain is also worth keeping an eye on.
ANDREW WU

SCHEDULE

1 Friday, 7 December 12 MELBOURNE RENEGADES v MELBOURNE STARS ETIHAD STADIUM 7:00 PM 10:00 PM Fox Sports
2 Saturday, 8 December 12 SYDNEY SIXERS v SYDNEY THUNDER SCG 7:00 PM 10:00 PM Fox Sports
3 Sunday, 9 December 12 BRISBANE HEAT v HOBART HURRICANES GABBA 5:00 PM 8:00 PM Fox Sports
4 Sunday, 9 December 12 PERTH SCORCHERS v ADELAIDE STRIKERS WACA 6:00 PM 9:00 PM Fox Sports
5 Thursday, 13 December 12 ADELAIDE STRIKERS v BRISBANE HEAT ADELAIDE OVAL 7:00 PM 10:00 PM Fox Sports
6 Friday, 14 December 12 SYDNEY THUNDER v MELBOURNE RENEGADES ANZ STADIUM 7:00 PM 10:00 PM Fox Sports
7 Saturday, 15 December 12 MELBOURNE STARS v HOBART HURRICANES MCG 7:00 PM 10:00 PM Fox Sports
8 Sunday, 16 December 12 SYDNEY SIXERS v PERTH SCORCHERS SCG 7:00 PM 10:00 PM Fox Sports
9 Tuesday, 18 December 12 BRISBANE HEAT v PERTH SCORCHERS GABBA 6:30 PM 9:30 PM Fox Sports
10 Wednesday, 19 December 12 MELBOURNE RENEGADES v HOBART HURRICANES ETIHAD STADIUM 7:00 PM 10:00 PM Fox Sports
11 Thursday, 20 December 12 SYDNEY THUNDER v ADELAIDE STRIKERS ANZ STADIUM 7:00 PM 10:00 PM Fox Sports
12 Friday, 21 December 12 MELBOURNE STARS v SYDNEY SIXERS MCG 7:00 PM 10:00 PM Fox Sports
13 Saturday, 22 December 12 HOBART HURRICANES v SYDNEY THUNDER BLUNDSTONE ARENA 4:00 PM 7:00 PM Fox Sports
14 Saturday, 22 December 12 MELBOURNE RENEGADES v BRISBANE HEAT ETIHAD STADIUM 7:00 PM 10:00 PM Fox Sports
15 Sunday, 23 December 12 ADELAIDE STRIKERS v SYDNEY SIXERS ADELAIDE OVAL 5:30 PM 8:30 PM Fox Sports
16 Sunday, 23 December 12 PERTH SCORCHERS v MELBOURNE STARS WACA 6:00 PM 9:00 PM Fox Sports
17 Wednesday, 26 December 12 SYDNEY SIXERS v HOBART HURRICANES SCG 7:00 PM 10:00 PM Fox Sports
18 Thursday, 27 December 12 ADELAIDE STRIKERS v MELBOURNE STARS ADELAIDE OVAL 7:00 PM 10:00 PM Fox Sports
19 Friday, 28 December 12 SYDNEY THUNDER v BRISBANE HEAT ANZ STADIUM 6:00 PM 9:00 PM Fox Sports
20 Saturday, 29 December 12 PERTH SCORCHERS v MELBOURNE RENEGADES WACA 6:00 PM 9:00 PM Fox Sports
21 Sunday, 30 December 12 SYDNEY THUNDER v SYDNEY SIXERS ANZ STADIUM 7:00 PM 10:00 PM Fox Sports
22 Tuesday, 1 January 13 HOBART HURRICANES v PERTH SCORCHERS BLUNDSTONE ARENA 7:00 PM 10:00 PM Fox Sports
23 Wednesday, 2 January 13 MELBOURNE RENEGADES v ADELAIDE STRIKERS ETIHAD STADIUM 7:00 PM 10:00 PM Fox Sports
24 Thursday, 3 January 13 BRISBANE HEAT v MELBOURNE STARS GABBA 6:30 PM 9:30 PM Fox Sports
25 Friday, 4 January 13 PERTH SCORCHERS v SYDNEY THUNDER WACA 6:00 PM 9:00 PM Fox Sports
26 Saturday, 5 January 13 HOBART HURRICANES v ADELAIDE STRIKERS BLUNDSTONE ARENA 4:00 PM 7:00 PM Fox Sports
27 Sunday, 6 January 13 MELBOURNE STARS v MELBOURNE RENEGADES MCG 7:00 PM 10:00 PM Fox Sports
28 Monday, 7 January 13 BRISBANE HEAT v SYDNEY SIXERS GABBA 6:30 PM 9:30 PM Fox Sports
29 Tuesday, 8 January 13 MELBOURNE STARS v SYDNEY THUNDER MCG 7:00 PM 10:00 PM Fox Sports
30 Wednesday, 9 January 13 HOBART HURRICANES v BRISBANE HEAT BLUNDSTONE ARENA 7:00 PM 10:00 PM Fox Sports
31 Thursday, 10 January 13 ADELAIDE STRIKERS v PERTH SCORCHERS ADELAIDE OVAL 7:00 PM 10:00 PM Fox Sports
32 Saturday, 12 January 13 SYDNEY SIXERS v MELBOURNE RENEGADES SCG 7:00 PM 10:00 PM Fox Sports
33 Tuesday, 15 January 13 1st Placed Team v 4th Placed Team 1st Placed Team TBC Fox Sports TBC
34 Wednesday, 16 January 13 2nd Placed Team v 3rd Placed Team 2nd Placed Team TBC Fox Sports
35 Saturday, 19 January 13 Winner of Semi-Final 1 v Winner of Semi-Final 2 Highest Placed SF Winner TBC Fox Sports

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