The Big Bash League 2018 is here and it is bigger than ever this year. BBL has fast established itself as one of the biggest T20 tournaments in the world, with many cricketers considering it to be the best quality franchise tournament on offer. Everything from the coverage, the crowd attendance, to the actual cricket played is done at a level that other leagues struggle to match and we are sure that BBL 08 will bring more innovation to the people.
Over the last few years, the Perth Scorchers have dominated the league like few could have ever imagined. That dominance has come in a hard-fought manner and building the side from the ground up over years. Challenging their supremacy is not going to be easy. The teams have made some overseas signings that should shake things up. Commitments with the Australia side are also going to keep some of the major players away from representing their BBL teams for a major part of the tournament.
We believe this season is going to see the emergence of some teams which struggled in the past and bring a whole new flavor to BBL cricket. Here is how the teams are shaping up this year with some of the signings that have been finalized till now. Keep in mind that international signings and replacements can continue till the very last day of the Big Bash. It is also unclear whether Steve Smith, David Warner, and Cameron Bancroft will be available to play BBL 08.
This is the most comprehensive and complete tournament preview of the Big Bash League 2018 that you can find.
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The Sydney Thunder side was another one of the BBL sides that needed a complete overhaul. A look at the players that have retired, been let go, or not been signed shows that the Sydney Thunder side is serious about that overhaul this season.
The crux of the side is being built around the batting strength that the Thunder side showed last season. Jos Buttler played just six matches for the Sydney Thunder last year but scored 200 runs with two half-centuries to get in some cracking form towards the end.
He used that form to continue his international comeback to test cricket, a brilliant IPL season and is now an integral part of the English side in all formats. Buttler has the potential to carry the Sydney Thunder side throughout BBL 08 if necessary.
Providing him support will be his English colleague, Joe Root. After having been ignored in the IPL, Joe Root will be keen to show he has the chops to be a T20 superstar as well. There is no doubt about his batting ability and we believe he has the game to succeed in the shortest format. All he needs to do is to trust his technique, as Virat Kohli does, and not try to match Buttler for innovation.
Shane Watson is another player that is going to be very crucial for the Sydney Thunder this season. The man keeps on getting better with age as he continues to dominate T20 competitions across the world. He was the highest scorer for Sydney Thunder last season, winning them matches single-handedly, and then also had a blockbuster IPL season.
If Watson, Buttler, and Root can play to their potential then the Sydney vThunder side will be a hard one to stop.
The addition of Daniel Sams adds to an already strong bowling attack that has the likes of Fawad Ahmed and Chris Green in its side as well. Usman Khawaja and Pat Cummins are the players that are a part of the squad but likely to be unavailable for a large part of the tournament because of international engagements.
There are a few slots for Sydney Thunder to fill and we suspect they will be looking or a few bowling all-rounders or fast bowlers to round out their side.
BBL 2018-19 Prediction: Semi-Finalists
The Perth Scorchers are one of the most successful T20 sides in the world, forget the Big Bash League. They have been dominant every single year of the BBL and this is why they have not changed much for BBL 08 either.
The Perth Scorchers won 8 out of the 10 matches they played during the group stages last year and even though they lost in the semi-final, there will be few people that dispute the fact that the Perth Scorchers were the best side of the tournament.
Their winning ways are even more remarkable considering the fact that they were missing a large chunk of their starting eleven to Australian international commitments and injuries.
The retirement of Voges and Johnson means that the Perth Scorchers will be testing their bench strength even more this year. Players like Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Ashton Agar, and Andrew Tye are going to be busy with Australian duty intermittently during the summer while Cameron Bancroft is currently banned from playing in BBL 08.
This means that Hilton Cartwright, Ashton Turner, and Michael Klinger will have to do the bulk of the run scoring for the side. The Perth Scorchers have always built their side around a gun bowling attack and that is the case this year as well.
Jhye Richardson, Joel Paris, Jason Behrendorff, and David Willey are all exceptional bowlers who can shoulder the responsibility of carrying the attack even when the first choice players are missing. Usman Qadir has been pretty successful bowling leg-spin in the shortest format of the game and will be someone to keep an eye out for.
If he can perform anything like what Fawad Ahmed does for the Sydney Thunder then the Perth Scorchers would have added another string to their bow. Cameron Green, a relatively unknown player right now, also bowls well in excess of 140 km/h and can bat in the top order as well.
He is another player to look out for.
The Perth Scorchers are a model of stability and consistency. They pick players that play locally in Western Australia and have a very strong team culture. The best team in BBL history is going to be hard to beat this year as well.
BBL 2018-19 Prediction: Finalists
The Melbourne Stars are perhaps the side with the most changes to their squad ahead of BBL 08. It is about time too. They lost 8 out of the 10 matches they played last year and finished dead last. Their entire campaign was a mess and it was clear that most of their ‘star’ players were beyond their best.
This is why it is no bad thing for the Melbourne Stars to be resetting the house as it were.
They have made a few good additions to the squad already. Nic Maddinson, who had a decent outing with the Sydney Sixers last season, has been snapped up by the Stars. They have also got in Travis Dean from the Renegades and made their first international signing for BBL 08.
Sandeep Lamichhane is going to be playing for the Stars and there are hopes of him progressing in the manner that Rashid Khan did. Lamichhane has played around the world after first being picked in the IPL and is a crafty bowler to get around.
He could provide the Stars a bit of an ‘X’ factor that they were missing last season. Matt Parkinson, another leg-spinner from England has been roped in to replace Lamicchane when he leaves for the Bangladesh Premier League.
There are still a few places to be filled in by the Melbourne Stars but they do have a good core of players to work around. Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, and Peter Handscomb are going to be the heart of this team.
Maxwell had a poor season last year only coming into some form towards the end, by which time the Stars had already crashed out of contention. Marcus Stoinis was perhaps the best batsman for the Stars but was shunted around the order a bit too much. These two and Peter Handscomb have to have exceptional seasons for the Melbourne Stars to be a force to be reckoned with.
The Melbourne Stars have some place on their roster to pick up some exciting players that can make them much more formidable so look for updates on their squad as the BBL 08 approaches.
Melbourne Stars veer from being the worst side in the Big Bash League to the best side in the Big Bash league from year to year. Letting go of a large number of players gives them the opportunity to start afresh and maybe move back up the table in BBL 08.
BBL 2018-19 Prediction: 8th (Last place)
The Melbourne Renegades would have been disappointed with their semi-final exit last year. They had the team to go all the way and just lost steam towards the end. A look at some of the things that can be improved is perhaps the reason why the Melbourne Renegades still have not picked their two international players for BBL 08 yet.
The Renegades had decided to stick with Dwayne Bravo and Mohammad Nabi (who was replaced by Kieron Pollard) for last year’s Big Bash. While Bravo stood out with his bowling, picking 18 wickets in the tournament, the other two players disappointed.
We have a feeling that the Renegades may be trying to pull off a coup and get a certain South African superstar (cough* AB de Villiers* cough) into their side. There is no certainty as to whether Dwayne Bravo will be coming back for this season either.
The team has decided to strengthen its side with the domestic signings of Cameron Boyce and Dan Christian to their side. Both these players played for the Hobart Hurricanes and in the case of Dan Christian, played a major role in the eventual run to the finals.
The real core of the team is still composed of Aaron Finch, Cameron White, Tom Cooper, and Marcus Harris. Finch is going to be involved with Australia in all formats of the game so that makes availability a big concern
Cameron White, Tom Cooper, and Marcus Harris are all excellent batsmen that can win matches on their own. All three of them had a good season last year and can be expected to carry on the good form in BBL 08 as well.
The team may also try the exciting young Mackenzie Harvey at the top of the order. He was just 16 when he smashed Liam Plunkett, Mark Wood, and company for a 39 ball fifty last summer. Everyone in the cricket circles will be waiting to see how he has developed since then.
The bowling was a bit of a problem for the Renegades last season. This year could be the same, particularly if they are unable to get Dwyane Bravo back into the side. Having Dan Christian and Cameron Boyce will help but players like Kane Richardson, Jon Holland, and Joe Mennie will have a big role to play as well.
The Melbourne Renegades certainly seem like contenders but their two international signings will dictate how far this team goes.
BBL 2018-19 Prediction: Winners
The Adelaide Strikers are the current champions of BBL after they won the BBL 07 in an emphatic fashion. The success has meant that the side is aiming for continuity and stability to hopefully be able to defend their title without altering too much. Jone Dean and Daniel Drew look likely to not be a part of the Adelaide Striker this season since both are currently uncontracted. This leaves two open positions on the roster which will be filled up as the squad is finalized.
The Adelaide Strikers have decided to stick with Rashid Khan and Colin Ingram as their overseas signings for BBL 08 as well. Rashid Khan was the signing of the season last summer as he took 18 wickets at an average of 13.83 and an economy rate of just 5.65.
These are numbers which are worth their weight in gold. Since his time in BBL 07, Rashid Khan has grown in stature and plied his trade across the world. He is going to return to the BBL an even improved bowler which should be a scary thought for the opposition.
The bowling strength of the Adelaide Strikers stood out in the tournament, much like the Perth Scorchers. Apart from Rashid Khan, they have Peter Siddle, Ben Laughlin, Billy Stanlake, and Michael Neser in the side as well. This is a settled bowling lineup with pace, variation, and experience to call upon.
The batting for the Adelaide Strikers was led by Alex Carey who scored 443 runs in the tournament. His performance in the BBL catapulted him in the Australian side and that is why he may not be available for a large part of the season for Adelaide.
Carey, Head, and Weatherald were the leading scorers for the Adelaide Strikers last season with all three of them in top-5 scorers of the entire tournament. Carey and Head are going to be on Australia duty which means that other players like Colin Ingram, Jake Lehman, and Matt Short will have to step up.
Short has been brought in from the Melbourne Renegades for whom he played an aggressive role at the top of the order towards the end of the season.
The Adelaide Strikers have maintained the core of their side but Australian commitments may play havoc with their plans and test their bench strength.
BBL 2018-19 Prediction: Semi-Finalists
The Hobart Hurricanes is another side that has chosen to keep things stable in the lead up to BBL 08. They reached the finals last year and narrowly missed out winning the title. They must believe that the few changes they have made will allow them to go one better this time around.
There were two standout players for the Hobart Hurricanes in the last season of the Big Bash and both of them are going to be key this year as well. Darcy Short on the batting front and Jofra Archer on the bowling side ensured that the Hobart Hurricanes were competitive in both aspects of the game no matter what.
Darcy Short scored 572 runs last season, the most for any batsman in BBL history, at an astonishing average of 57.20 with 26 sixes to his name. No one in the side even came close and that is where the risk lies for the Hobart Hurricanes.
Dan Christian scored over 200 runs last season and was a very useful player down the order but he has moved on to the Renegades this season. Ben McDermott and Mathew Wade will have a huge role to play in this season for the Hobart Hurricanes. If Darcy Short gets injured or is unavailable due to international duty then the depth in the squad seems a little thin.
Jofra Archer took 16 wickets last season and has since seen his T20 reputation skyrocket in leagues around the world. He is going to be the mainstay of the Hobart Hurricanes bowling lineup alongside Tymal Mills.
We personally don’t rate Mills very highly because he seems to try too many things too often to be consistent but he does have the ability to pick wickets. The loss of Dan Christian is going to be significant in this respect as well because he took 11 wickets last season and was the second-best wicket-taker for the side.
James Faulkner has been added to the side to be able to counteract the loss of Christian as an all-rounder. He definitely has the ability to fill Christian’s shoes but his form in the last year or so has been poor. Faulkner has lost his place in the Australian set-up and needs to do something remarkable to prevent disappearing off the circuit completely.
Overall, the Hobart Hurricanes see to be a smidgen weaker than they were last year.
BBL 2018-19 Prediction: 7th place
The Sydney Sixers is another one of the teams that have quite a few places open in its roster at the time of writing. They are also going to be making a lot of last-minute signings in order to beef up their squad.
The side is going to hope to improve from its showing last year where it only managed to win four out of the ten games it played. The Sixers appeared to be a side that was struggling to change and this is why it is a good thing that three of their former stalwarts have moved on to other teams or retired.
The Sixers have decided to offer a full contract to Joe Denly after his brief stint with them last season. Denly is a very talented player who is now back in the T20 scheme of things for England as well. He could be one of the more exciting players to look out for this season.
The Sydney Sixers will also have the services of Moises Henriques, Daniel Hughes, Sean Abbott, Ben Dwarshius, and Nathan Lyon (when is not on Australian duty).
The batting seems dependent on Henriques and Hughes at the moment although having Joe Denly will definitely help. Jack Edwards, who will be playing in BBL for the first time, could get a regular opening position slot and that will be exciting to see.
Edwards scored a brilliant hundred in the JLT Cup that just concluded and showed enough talent for people to talk about a possible Australian call-up sooner rather than later.
The Sydney Sixers need another good international signing, ideally someone to shore up its batting strength. Currently, the side seems short on batting power and lacks the presence of a hard-hitting all-rounder in the middle order as well.
The spin department does not have the wrist-spin that most of the other squads possess so seeing them progress very far in BBL 08 looks unlikely to us at the moment.
BBL 2018-19 Prediction: 5th place
Brisbane Heat is known for having one of the most exciting batting lineups in the Big Bash. In fact, Chris Lynn and Brendon McCullum are known affectionately as the ‘Bash Brothers’. The pair has lit up the BBL several times in the past when they have played together.
Unfortunately for Brisbane Heat, injuries to Chris Lynn meant that he was only able to play five games last season. Joe Burns also got injured and threw out the plans that Brisbane may have had leading up to the tournament.
A return of 4 wins from 10 league games was a poor return for a tea of this caliber.
This year could be different, though. Chris Lynn is going to be fit and available to play whenever he is not on Australian international duty. Brendon McCullum is getting on in age but is still very well suited to take advantage of the hard, true surfaces in Australia.
With Joe Burns and Max Bryant in the side, the top order looks very explosive. Bryant is one of the most exciting young batsmen in the country. He got the attention of the world when he scored 71 off 32 balls against South Australia, in the process scoring the fastest 50 ever by a Queenslander.
Players like Jimmy Pierson, Alex Ross, and Matt Renshaw add further heft to this batting lineup.
The additions of Mujeeb Ur Rahman is going to be very interesting. Mujeeb is a different kind of bowler than Rashid Khan. He has more variation and bowls slower. He usually bowls in the powerplay for his national side and for other franchises. If he can find a good length to bowl in Australia then he is going to be a trump card for Brisbane Heat in BBL 08.
The bowling attack is pretty strong too thanks to Swepson, Steketee, Brendan Doggett, and James Pattinson. Jack Prestwidge is another youngster that is said to be able to bowl at a rapid pace.
We believe this is the strongest Brisbane Heat side to take part in the Big Bash yet.
BBL 2018-19 Prediction: 6th place
Top 4 teams after group stage: Perth Scorchers, Melbourne Renegades, Adelaide Strikers, Sydney Thunder
Winner: Melbourne Renegades
The Melbourne Renegades had a winning team last season in our opinion. They made a big mistake with their second overseas player and ended up paying a heavy price for that. They are yet to announce their two overseas players for BBL 08 but we have a feeling that something big is in the works. The core of the team is strong and covers all bases.
This could be their year.