With the first four games of the BBL season wrapped up and Round 1 done and dusted – as per the SuperCoach round system – we can take some things away early from the season to date.
Here are the six things we learnt from the first segment of the season.
1. James Vince is one of the most slept-on imports When James Vince came Down Under as the No. 3 for England in the 2017-18 Ashes and departed having batted nine times and scored an underwhelming 248 runs, it would have been fair to assume he wouldn’t make a huge splash in the Big Bash League.
His BBL|09 stats of 323 runs at 23 were okay at best, but his start to the season was elite, being the shining light in a Sixers fade-out. His 67 off 41, including eight boundaries and two long sixes, was a delight to watch.
In a season of more imports than ever before, Vince is one of those guys who will go under the radar for the season but get the job done close to every time.
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2. Cane Train is the dark horse A glance at the betting markets the night before the Canes took down the Sixers by 16 runs saw them $8 as outright winners. That number now sits at $6.50 and is still value.
Their batting core of Matthew Wade (when he returns), D’Arcy Short, WillJacks, Peter Handscomb, Ben McDermott, Colin Ingram, Tim David, Macalister Wright and James Faulkner is one of the best in the league.
Faulkner is still in ripping bowling form with his 2-22, Nathan Ellis and Riley Meredith look like they’re fit and firing, and spin bowing duo Johan Botha – and, later on, Sandeep Lamichhane – means this squad is primed to take home their first piece of silverware.
3. It’s the Cs for the Stars Nathan Coulter-Nile, Hilton Cartwright and captain Glenn Maxwell, I mean. Sure, Dilbar Hussain took a couple of nice wickets and Adam Zampa’s 0-24 was very tidy for a spinner in this league, but those Cs got it done over the Heat.
Firstly, skipper Glenn Maxwell sent down the first and third overs for the innings and conceded only nine runs before finishing on 0-20 off three, but the way he came to the wicket at 3-34 and completely took the chase away from the Heat with his 26-ball 46 was stunning.
Cartwright pulled off a stunning side arm run out of Dan Lawrence before taking a good catch at long on to dismiss Simon Milenko. He then came out after just two deliveries and anchored the run chase, working the ball around and hitting four boundaries and a six in his 42-ball 46.
Finally, Nathan Coulter-Nile, the best man on the ground, celebrated his return back from a winning IPL campaign with Mumbai with the best T20 figures of his life with 4-10 off a stunning 3.5 overs, including Max Bryant and Chris Lynn. He also effected two run-outs, the result of some of the worst running between the wickets seen in a long time.
4. Spinners bow to Zampa Backing up from the night game the previous night, the Stars stumbled in their back end of the batting innings but bowled beautifully. For the Thunder, Jono Cook took 1-33, Chris Green took 2-42, and Tanveer Sangha had a lovely debut with 2-26. The Stars had Glenn Maxwell (0-11 off one) and Clint Hinchliffe (1-18 off two) rolling their arms over in the spinning fashion.
However, it was Adam Zampa who took them to the absolute cleaners. ‘Zorbs’ held up Alex Hales and Callum Ferguson beautifully in his first two overs, going for just six before getting out Nathan McAndrew and Baxter Holt in the final over of the game. He didn’t get hit for a single boundary and bowled with perfect control. He has 2-34 from eight overs to start the tournament.
I really liked what Sangha brought as well as a passing note.
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5. ‘Gilly’ is spot on – we need a DRS and it doesn’t need to be World Cup standard When Callum Ferguson brought back Chris Green after going for 29 in his first two overs and got the wicket of Glenn Maxwell, it was a masterstroke. The ball was found to be pitching down leg and Usman Khawaja copped a howler in the Thunder’s first innings.
Now, neither of these decisions are the direct fault of the umpire – they don’t have the replays and technology available, and both looked out when watching live. DRS would’ve saved both, and they need to have some sort of technology to overwrite some errors.
The BBL can bring in rule changes to make the tournament a fraction of a gimmick, but the funds need to be put in for a base-level system, and quickly.
6. Renegades bowling attack will only get better Kane Richardson (3-22), Josh Lalor (3-30), Peter Hatzoglou (2-29) and Beau Webster (1-14) were the wicket-takers for the Gades in their upset win over the Scorchers, with Jack Prestwidge and Benny Howell also sending down overs.
South African spinner airman Imran Tahir and Afghanistan all-rounder Mohammed Nabi will join the squad after Christmas, Marcus Harris has joined the Test squad, Cameron Boyce and Jon Holland didn’t play and Will Sutherland is playing the Australia A match against India.
Shaun Marsh and Aaron Finch made chump change of the run chase for sure, but make no doubt about it, this was a bowling masterclass from the BBL|08 champions.