2017/18 Big Bash League Update

Table so far

Team Matches Points NRR
Adelaide Strikers 6 10 1.21
Perth Scorchers 7 10 0.02
Melbourne Renegades 6 8 0.61
Brisbane Heat 7 8 0.3
Hobart Hurricanes 6 8 -0.39
Sydney Thunder 7 6 -0.22
Sydney Sixers 6 0 -0.65
Melbourne Stars 5 0 -1.12

Adelaide Strikers

Assessment: Being at the top of the table with 4 matches to go and having a superior net run-rate, the Strikers look to be strongly placed for a home semi-final. Their bowling attack is now comfortably the best in the tournament with the Scorchers losing two of theirs to ODI duties: Rashid Khan is bowling with wicket-taking verve, Billy Stanlake’s stock continues to rise and Ben Laughlin and Peter Siddle are using their experience very effectively. However, their batting will be a worry with Travis Head certain to feature heavily in the ODI series. This will mean that they will rely on Alex Carey and Colin Ingram to continue their form.

Key player: Rashid Khan has played with remarkable consistency this BBL with 11 wickets in 6 matches so far (5 two’s and 1 one). As such, his parsimonious bowling and knack for taking vital wickets in those middle overs has been a constant for the Strikers and will be needed to push them onwards.

Path to the finals: Scorchers (H), Hurricanes (H), Renegades (A), Scorchers (A)

Changes: Travis Head (ODI leave)

Continue reading

Record Watch (Jan 2018)

Monthly update on upcoming Test records/milestones and ones achieved this month

As the Test series roll on, record and milestones tumble for players from all sides. While these might seem like statistical oddities, they often say quite a lot about the longevity of a player or the rapidity of their rise.

Players featured 

  • Australia: Steve Smith, David Warner, Nathan Lyon
  • England: Alastair Cook, James Anderson, Stuart Broad

Continue reading

2017/18 Big Bash League Preview

Table prediction (batting + bowling ratings)

  1. Melbourne Stars (9.5 + 8.5 = 18)
  2. Melbourne Renegades (8 + 9.5 = 17.5)
  3. Perth Scorchers (7.5 + 9.5 = 17)
  4. Sydney Sixers (8.5 + 8.5 = 17)
  5. Adelaide Strikers (7.5 + 9 = 16.5)
  6. Brisbane Heat (8 + 8 = 16)
  7. Sydney Thunder (7 + 8 = 15)
  8. Hobart Hurricanes (6.5 + 7.5 = 14)

Continue reading

Why the Australian selectors should want to pick Cameron Bancroft

During their decade of dominance in the 2000s, Australia’s batting machine was fronted by two stroke-playing aggressors in the form of Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer. One towered over opposition bowlers, belligerently clubbing the ball back whence it came. The other had reinvented himself as a swashbuckler, playing his shots as if to atone for his previously grafting innings. Together they hunted down pacemen and their domain was the first twenty overs of an Australian innings.

As such, with the success of the Hayden – Langer days in mind, the Australian selectors have gravitated towards this model of “positive batting.” Since that point in time, each sustained opening partnership for Australia has included an aggressor, but – to the reluctance of the selectors – an accumulator. Shane Watson had Simon Katich. David Warner had Ed Cowan and later Chris Rogers. It reveals much about the attitude of the selectors (and the press) that, of the pairs, the accumulator was the batsman who came under the most selectorial pressure.

It wasn’t until the 2015/16 Tests against New Zealand that the National Selection Panel got the Christmas wish they so thoroughly desired with the chance to pick Joe Burns, an attacking Queenslander, along with David Warner. To their delight, the young man hit his way to consecutive sixes to reach a second innings hundred in the first Test of the summer. Two more tons would follow with similar verve against the West Indians and the Kiwis. All was well.

Then came Sri Lanka. The signs were clear from the start: prior to the first Test, according to cricket.com.au’s “Unplayable Podcast”*, Muttiah Muralitharan, consulting for Australia, chose to have a bowl against the Australian batsmen and, although Steve Smith “worked him out alright”, Joe Burns “had no clue.” Embodying Australia’s struggles against spin, Burns ended up producing scores of 0, 2, 3 and 29.

Although Burns was dropped for the third Test against Sri Lanka, it seems likely that he will return for the home series against South Africa and Pakistan. Now, this is probably justified given that he scored three hundreds in eight Tests the previous summer. But, with a view to the future and, more specifically, the tour of India in February – March 2017, the more inspired option for the National Selection Panel must be to pick Cameron Bancroft. (My previous preference would have been to pick Ed Cowan, but it seems that both he and the Panel are heading in different directions.)

Continue reading

Five Great Performances from Ricky Ponting

For the past few months, the Lord’s Cricket Ground has gone to the effort of asking modern-day cricketers about their All Time XI, that is, the best eleven players they have seen and/or played with or against, arranged in some semblance of a batting order. Now, you can see these online on their Youtube channel, which, incidentally, has some nice HD-quality footage of cricket at Lord’s. But the remarkable thing about these All Time XI’s is that Ricky Ponting features on nearly all of them. Despite all the hoopla about his sometimes overly aggressive gamesmanship – there were certainly times he and his side earned the moniker “the ugly Australians” (one that dates back to the 1970s) – such is the respect for his batting and captaincy achievements that he is consistently etched in as both captain and first drop by his peers. In an attempt to educate myself on why he was held in this atmospheric regard, I have collated five of his best Test match performances. Continue reading

Lyon: Australia’s statesman

In 2010, Nathan Lyon was an integral part of the Adelaide Oval ground staff, playing grade cricket and second XI matches for the ACT Comets. A year later he was making his Test debut for Australia in Sri Lanka. Playing again today in Sri Lanka, he has just taken three wickets in a wily three-over burst. Leaving him on a total of 198 Test wickets, he is verging on a milestone that signifies how far Lyon has come.     Continue reading

Prime Ministers and Cricket (Part 2)

As I have written in a previous article, Australian Prime Ministers and cricket have combined to form a complex relationship. As a prevalent strand in the fabric of Australian culture, engaging with cricket is necessary for political survival. Otherwise, they run the danger of appearing out of touch with the electorate. In this article, we will cover some new developments and expand our coverage to Prime Ministers outside of Australia.

Continue reading

Picking Steve O’Keefe: a key step towards solving Australia’s woes in the subcontinent

During Darren Lehmann’s tenure as Australian coach, much praise has been directed at his laidback approach to managing the Australian side. Prior to the 2013 Ashes, Super-Lehmann donned a BUPA-emblazoned tracksuit and set about repairing a team, whose fractures had come to the forefront in the infamous ‘Homework-gate’ tour of India. He focused on providing a healthy, supportive environment for the players so that they could play their natural games.

As such, for better or worse, the aggression of many an Australian player has shone through. It has produced results and has, perhaps, been the primary factor in the ascent of Steve Smith’s side to the number one position in Tests. But such are the vagaries of the ICC Test Rankings system that Australia has done so without winning a single Test in Asia for almost the past five years, while losing six of the past six Tests there. What is the answer to Australia’s problems in the subcontinent? Unfortunately, the Australian Test side has a whole host of issues to deal with in regards to this. But a key step forward lies with a step away from aggression in the form of a steady left-arm orthodox bowler by the name of Stephen O’Keefe.

Continue reading

Shane Watson: the big match performer

Bill Lawry once floated the idea that Watson should retire from Test matches and instead focus on the short forms: since he’s a ‘superstar’ in limited overs cricket, why does he bother with a format that puts such a strain on his brittle body? While this might have just been a throwaway line during the commentary of an ODI, it does illustrate this disparity between his achievements in the Test arena and the shorter forms.

His Test record – although not as bad as public sentiment would have it, as I have discussed previously – jumps out as one of underachievement for Australia’s next “Keith Miller”. However, in one-day internationals, he ranks as one of the greatest all-rounders in the format: across his 190 matches, he has aggregated 5757 runs at 40.54 and 168 wickets at 31.79. Among batting all-rounders, only Jacques Kallis and Viv Richards have comparable records. In Twenty20 Internationals, he motored along at a strike-rate of 145 and was miserly with his mediums, which went at an economy rate 7.5. But his true value as a limited overs players is fully depicted by his performances in global ICC tournaments.

Continue reading

Sheffield Shield: Australia’s next Test batsmen

In the ACA Sheffield Shield Team of the Year, four of the top six are under the age of twenty-four, which would have been unthinkable a few years ago. It is manifest that this 2015/16 season has seen the emergence and continued success of the young batsmen – a testament to the improvements that Greg Chappell has made to Cricket Australia’s National Talent program. As such, I have decided to examine the batting prospects from this Shield season.

Continue reading