The Big Bash League 2017-18 is about to get underway and there is tremendous excitement around it. The tournament has grown into a polished finished product which is considered as the best T20 tournament in the world. BBL 07 will be played in the backdrop of the Ashes but there is no chance of it being overshadowed by the most iconic test series ever. That in itself is a testament to its success.
We take a look at the BBL 07 squads, BBL 07 team changes, strengths, weaknesses, and try to predict the likely outcome of the BBL this year.
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The Adelaide Strikers made some smart picks to add to their roster but lost some of their best performing players as well. The biggest loss will be that of Ben Dunk, the highest scorer for the Strikers and the entire BBL last year. He scored 364 runs at an average of 52.00 with 16 sixes to his name and consistently kept the Strikers in the game up until he was in the middle.
The Strikers will be hoping that Colin Ingram will be able to replace Ben Dunk at the top of the order. The former South African international has had an excellent T20 season so far excelling in the NatWest T20 Blast and then scoring consistently in the Ram Slam 2017 as well.
Some of the players to watch out in the Strikers squad will be skipper Travis Head, Afghan leg-spinner Rashid Khan, and fast bowler Billy Stanlake. Travis Head played only five matches last year scoring 76 runs and may miss the end of the BBL again if he is called up for national duty but he is definitely one of the players that the Strikers will look towards for their runs.
We love that Rashid Khan has been included in the side and are backing the mystery leggie from Afghanistan to be the top wicket-taker from the Strikers.
BBL 07 Prediction: 6th on the league table
The biggest question on every Brisbane Heat, and probably BBL fan, is about the return of Chris Lynn. Probably the biggest striker and most prolific six-hitter in world of cricket at the moment, Lynn has been out of action for the last few months recovering from a shoulder surgery. The current news is that he will be back for the first match that Heat plays in BBL 07.
Here is a refresher of what he did last season. Lynn played five matches, scored 309 runs at an average of 154.50, strike rate of 177.58 and hit a season leading 26 sixes as well. There is no telling what he might do if he is fully fit and able to play the entire season of the BBL this year, although a national call-up could curtail his involvement in the latter half of the league.
Batting alongside will be Brendon McCullum who scored 323 with 19 sixes to his name. He is coming off a brilliant Bangladesh Premier League season where he scored runs by the bucketload and cleared the boundary for fun.
The rest of the batting order is also pretty solid with the likes of Jimmy Person, Alex Ross, Joe Burns, and Matt Renshaw in the squad.
The bowling will be led by Ben Cutting, Mark Steketee, Mitchell Swepson and Shadab Khan. We don’t think the loss of Badree, Mills, and Wildermuth will hurt the Heat at all. We are in fact backing the Shadab Khan to be the leading wicket-taker thanks to his brilliant googly and proven track record in T20 cricket.
This is a strong team that has only got stronger.
BBL 07 Prediction: 1st on the league table
The Hurricanes did not have a good season last year and finished second from the bottom. Their main problem was that their gun players like Kumar Sangakkara and Shaun Tait did not fire at all. George Bailey and Tim Paine were impressive with the bat scoring 247 and 227 runs respectively but support from the others was lacking. Ben McDermott came into the limelight with an astonishing 114 and the Hurricanes will be hoping that he can play a few more such innings this season.
Darcy Short started the tournament off in fine style drawing comparisons to David Warner but he quickly faded away eventually ending up with a not too shabby not too great 198 runs from the tournament.
Dan Christian also did not have a good season with the bat but he did bowl some wonderful spells of bowling. The former Australian all-rounder will need to do much better in this season to be able to help his team climb up the ladder.
The presence of Joffra Archer and Tymal Mills is interesting in the team set up. The two Englishman are adept at the T20 format and bring unique skills to the table. While Mills is known for his changeups and cutters, Joffra Archer brings genuine raw pace with him.
Overall, though, the Hurricanes have once again invested in beefing up their bowling attack while their batting continues to look a little shaky. Mathew Wade is the only real addition in that respect and he has not been having the best of time either. A few players will have to hit form early for the Hurricanes otherwise this season may turn out to be another tough one for them.
BBL 07 Prediction: 8th on the league table
The Renegades would have been disappointed to just miss out on making the semi-finals after they lost out to the Melbourne Stars on net run rate. Their season return of four wins from eight matches was just one win shy of what the top-3 teams achieved.
The Renegades did not have a bad season but they definitely would have liked to do better. They have made a lot of changes in their side for this year picking up the veteran Brade Hodge, impressive opener Tim Ludeman, young tearaway Will Sutherland, and the impressive off-spinning all-rounder from Afghanistan Mohammad Nabi.
We believe that all of these are good additions to the team. Their loss of Sunil Narine is a big blow, but not something they cannot overcome. The Renegades will be thrilled that they can expect a full season from a fit-again Dwayne Bravo once again, a player who we believe is the best T20 all-rounder in the game.
He has the ability to pick wickets at all times of the game, is difficult to score off, can pull of mercurial catches and run-outs, and is very handy with the bat as well.
Aaron Finch, a player they had for the entire season last year, is probably going to be called up for national duty after the Ashes series, but that should still give him enough time with the Renegades to leave a solid impact.
The Renegades are a strong team that we believe has made some excellent additions to increase its competitiveness.
BBL 07 Prediction: 3rd on the league table
The Stars did well to reach the semi-final stage in BBL 06 but will want to iron some of the inconsistency in their game that pulled them back. By retaining almost the same team as last year, and in fact adding the highest run scorer of BBL 06, the Melbourne Stars have made a good start in our view.
The Stars have plenty of firepower in their lineup with the likes of Luke Wright, Rob Quiney, Ben Dunk, Kevin Pietersen, Glenn Maxwell, Peter Handscomb, and Marcus Stonis in their lineup. Luke Wright has been one of the most prolific scorers in BBL history and his potential partnership with Ben Dunk at the top of the order could be devastating.
Glenn Maxwell also has been in blistering form after having missed out on the Ashes squad and will come into BBL 07 with a point to prove. We are backing him to have an excellent year that could be similar to his breakout IPL season a couple of years ago when he was scoring runs at will.
There is a lot to like about this Stars lineup. They have T20 specialists, all-rounders, six-hitters, and some international quality bowlers.
Adam Zampa first caught the attention of the Aussie selectors by picking regular wickets in the BBL and being very tough to score off. We expect the same to continue in BBL 07 as well. Michael Beers, James Faulkner, Ben Hilfenhaus, and Marcus Stonis make for an all international attack that has the versatility to adapt to any condition.
The Melbourne Stars are spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing between international stars. If they can get their combinations right early then BBL 07 could be a memorable one for them.
BBL 07 Prediction: 2nd on the league table
The Perth Scorchers are by far the most successful BBL team in the entire history of the competition. They have been very consistent in their selection and prefer not to go overboard or chase the biggest names when it comes to their overseas signings.
For BBL 07, the Perth Scorchers have only signed David Willey as their overseas player, someone who has done well for the Scorchers in the past and fits in with the team ethos that Justin Langer values very highly.
There are a couple of hiccups that could trip up the Perth Scorchers this season, though.
They will be without Shaun Marsh and Mitchell Marsh for the duration of the Ashes now that the two have made the squad. Cameron Bancroft is also a part of the national side at the moment, however, he did not play much of a role in the Scorchers success to begin with.
With two of their highest scorers away on national duty, Ian Bell no longer a part of the squad, and Adam Voges retired from all other forms of cricket, the Scorchers are looking light on their batting.
A lot of onus will now fall on the likes of Sam Whiteman, AJ Turner, and Hilton Cartwright. We believe it is the last name in that trio, Hilton Cartwright, that could end up being the most valuable player for the Scorchers this season.
Hilton Cartwright is a solid hitter of the cricket ball and a more than useful bowler. If anyone is going to replace Mitch Marsh then it is Cartwright.
The bowling is pretty solid with Andrew Tye, Jhye Richardson, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Ashton Agar, and Jason Behrendorff all a part of the squad.
This is the weakest we have seen the Scorchers look in a long time, but they are far from easy pickings.
BBL 07 Prediction: 4th on the league table
The Sydney Sixers surprised a lot of the pundits last year by reaching the final. They owed a lot of that success to Daniel Hughes who top-scored with the bat with 304 runs and Moises Henriques who scored 263 runs and played a crucial role in some crunch moments.
Runs were difficult to come by for the Sixers from other players as Jason Roy, Sam Billings, Nic Maddinson, Brad Haddin, and Johan Botha all struggled to get the consistency in their game. With no real addition in the batting side for the Sydney Sixers, they once again will need a few of their players to have a great season otherwise they will find it difficult.
Nic Maddinson had been billed as one of the rising stars of Australian cricket before he found test cricket a little too hot to handle. A poor return in BBL 06 should not cause this young man to be written off. He has the power and skill to really make a mark in BBL 07.
Sean Abbott absolutely crushed everyone else in the wicket-taking race ending up with 20 to lead the tournament standings by a fair margin. He will once again be the spearhead of this bowling set up, supported by Dwarshius, Botha, and the in-form Nathan Lyon when he is done with the Ashes.
Moises Henriques has been consistent ever since moving up the order and Jason Roy has the potential to destroy bowling attacks but we still feel that the Sixers are a little short on batting power.
This is a side that may have peaked last year and could slide downwards in BBL 07.
BBL 07 Prediction: 7th on the league table
The winners of BBL 05 finished dead last in BBL 06 and had an absolute horror season. Injuries, missing players to international commitments and retirements made Sydney Thunder an unhappy place to be as they kept on losing from seemingly decent positions in the match.
Eventually, their season just fell away. They ended up with three wins from eight matches, the same as the two teams above them in the league table but had the worst net run rate.
The biggest problem for the Thunder last year was finding some runs from their batsmen. No player scored more than 200 runs in the tournament, no one reached 10 sixes in total, and there were only four fifties hit across the entire tournament.
The addition of Jos Buttler and Callum Ferguson should help in that regard as should the news that Shane Watson is fully fit and raring to go. In fact, Watson warmed up with 16 sixes in a match during the pre-tournament warm-ups, something that should excite fans all across the world.
We would love to see Watson back to the top of the order after he shifted all over the place in the last edition of the tournament. Kurtis Patterson, Ben Rohrer, and Usman Khawaja after the Ashes series will be very important to the progress of the Thunder team as well.
It is unclear if the Thunder will get access to Pat Cummins this season because of his international commitments but even in his absence the likes of McClenaghan, Fawad Ahmed, Chris Green, Shane Watson, and Clint McKay make for a very strong bowling attack.
In fact, McKay was in excellent form over the Natwest T20 Blast and was one of the most effective wicket-takers in that entire competition.
We are confident that the Sydney Thunder unit will see an upward move this year, possibly even competing for a semi-final spot if things go right.
BBL 07 Prediction: 5th on the league table