Thursday 15 December 2011

KFC T20 Big Bash League Preview 2011-2012 + Fantasy Tips + Scouting Reports

Hits and Misses, Fantasy Tips and Players to Watch.
By W D Nicolson, 15 December 2011

Follow the Summer of Cricket via our Cricket Tweet - @AustCricket

They defeated the Perth Scorchers by 7 wickets on Saturday January 28th at the WACA.

Well after months of waiting and a complete retooling of the Australian Summer of Cricket to accommodate it - the KFC Big Bash is here.

The Brisbane Heat will visit the SCG on Friday Night to take on the Sydney Sixers in the season opener for a revamped competition that will run from December 16 through to January 28.

Twenty20 Cricket is being pushed as the 'thing to watch' this summer by Cricket Australia - which is interesting given the Indian Cricket Team's visit is quite a tasty proposition - and they have scrapped all domestic cricket (One Day and First Class) throughout the Big Bash.

There are eight new teams and a host of stars (although no Indian players due to the BCCI not being interested in pumping up the tyres of a IPL rival) on show as the 'hit and giggle' game gets a big leg up over the holidays.

And it might just work.

While the advertising campaign has fallen flat to an extent - seriously the whole 'rivalry' angle is currently a moot point given NONE of the teams have actually played each other yet and that ad is very ordinary - cricket always relies on the emergence of players for its marketing and there are enough stars and young guns on each roster to make a concentrated effort at appealing to the fans.

But as always - the quality of the cricket will be important. Australia have always been a little pessimistic as to the value of the T20 game and if the first two Tests against India are crackers then the Big Bash might be hard pressed to wrest back the fan base to the final games of the regular season.

Another negative when it comes to the scheduling is the fact the two semi finals and the final will be played on the same days as the 4th Test against India in Adelaide... which suggests that the Adelaide Strikers may not be able to have a home final should they qualify.

Because the only option is for the 4th Test to finish at 6pm and then everyone file out of the ground only to come back in for a 7pm Big Bash Final at the same ground.

Anyhoo... prediction time.

After careful consideration and running the scouting report over each team, is declaring the Melbourne Stars as the inaugural Big Bash Champions for 2011/2012.

The final standings will be.
  1. Melbourne STARS
  2. Brisbane HEAT
  3. Adelaide STRIKERS
  4. Sydney THUNDER
  5. Perth SCORCHERS
  6. Melbourne RENEGADES
  7. Hobart HURRICANES
  8. Sydney SIXERS
The Stars will beat the Thunder and the Strikers will beat the Heat in the Semi Finals, with the Stars and Shane Warne taking out the Final.

NOTE: Injury news through Friday December 16 sees Kieron Pollard ruled out of the Big Bash for the Adelaide Strikers. He's a massive loss but we'll stick by our predictions.

MOST REGULAR SEASON RUNS: Daniel Harris, Adelaide Strikers.
MOST REGULAR SEASON WICKETS: Nathan Rimmington, Perth Scorchers.
PLAYER OF THE SEASON + FINALS: Matthew Wade, Melbourne Stars OR James Hopes, Brisbane Heat.

As for the bookies - has their favourites spaced a little differently
$5.50 - Melbourne RENEGADES
$6.00 - Melbourne STARS
$6.50 - Adelaide STRIKERS, Brisbane HEAT
$7.50 - Sydney THUNDER
$8.00 - Hobart HURRICANES, Sydney SIXERS
$9.00 - Perth SCORCHERS

Check out the Full Big Bash Preview below with Fantasy Tips, Rosters and more Scouting Reports on your favourite players.

If you have entered a Fox Sports Fantasy Cricket Team for the Big Bash - join the Fox Sports League to take on Mark Waugh and Damien Fleming. Code: 1610-2326
If you are playing the League - better prizes but less interesting setup - join here
This photo is prophetic... because we believe Warnie will lead the Stars to the Big Bash Egg Cup.


To keep up to date go to the Big Bash League News website or join the Facebook Group. They are also on Twitter @BigBashLeague.
The season will start on December 16. 
The full fixture guide can be found here.

The Strikers have very good depth and power in the batting lineup, plenty of spinning options and may not even need a pace bowling attack to make the Semi Finals. As a result - they make the Finals.
  1. D Harris
  2. M Klinger (c)
  3. C Ferguson
  4. T Cooper
  5. L Carseldine
  6. A Crosthwaite +
  7. J Botha
  8. A O'Brien
  9. B Drew
  10. A Thomas
  11. N Lyon
BEST SIGNING: Kieron Pollard
Can hit the ball. Not about to plunder a huge score but his 20-30s will be valuable if the top order does the job. His medium pacers may be useful given the spin heavy roster. (Tragic news for the Strikers with Pollard ruled out of the Big Bash with a hamstring strain Dec 16)
Nathan Lyon and Aaron O'Brien were good spinning options as it was and Botha just makes it harder for the Strikers to pick a balanced XI. But given Lyon will miss the back end of the Big Bash playing for Australia - it could actually turn out to be rather good.
FANTASY HIT: Daniel Harris
He'll likely open and can score extremely quickly. Clean hitter of the ball and as mentioned - will open the innings and that means more opportunities to score big runs.
Won't play any Big Bash games while the MCG and SCG Tests are being played. As a result he's only an option for the first weeks of the comp.
ONE TO WATCH: Callum Ferguson
If he bats at #3 where he should - he could score 40s at will in this format. If there's a player Australia should be looking at to replace Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey long term - Ferguson is the classiest option in the state ranks.
Batsmen: Aiden Blizzard, Cameron Borgas, Tom Cooper, Callum Ferguson, Daniel Harris, Michael Klinger (c)
Wicket-Keepers: Adam Crosthwaite
All-Rounders: Johan Botha, Lee Carseldine, Theo Doropoulos, Brendan Drew, Aaron O'Brien, Kieron Pollard (Injured will not play)
Bowlers: Nathan Lyon, Bryce McGain, James Muirhead, Gary Putland, Kane Richardson, Alfonso Thomas
Coach: Darren Berry
Home Ground: Adelaide Oval | 2011-2012 Season Fixture
Losing Dan Vettori for at least half the Big Bash is a blow but they've got big hitters a plenty at the top of the order and James Hopes could be the player of the year he does so much on his own. Depth in the bowling is the only concern but they can make the Finals regardless.
  1. B McCullum +
  2. M Hayden
  3. J Hopes (c)
  4. D Christian
  5. C Lynn
  6. P Forrest
  7. D Vettori
  8. M Neser
  9. N Hauritz
  10. R Harris
  11. C Swan
BEST SIGNING: Brendon McCullum
Can dominate the opening overs with his cracking lofted shots over the off-side a feature. Heat need to decide if he's worth more as a keeper-batsman but either way he'll be dynamic for the Heat.
Keeps having a crack at the T20 game long after his Test Career ended. One of the greats but the T20 game hasn't always been comfortable for him. Will put a few butts on seats however.
FANTASY HIT: James Hopes
He'll bat near the top of the order, bowl 4 overs a game and be amongst everything that happens in the field. Might be in his early 30s now but he was made for the T20 game.
FANTASY MISS: Nathan Hauritz
He may have played Test, ODI and International T20 cricket but the truth is, Hauritz just isn't that good. Don't waste the spot when a better option will, unsurprisingly, do better.
ONE TO WATCH: Chris Lynn
IF he makes the final XI he's a strokemaker who will be a joy to watch in the middle order. Queensland moved some very handy veterans on in recent seasons because they believed in Lynn. If he gets a run he could be very valuable for the Heat - especially with Dan Vettori missing the first half of the comp with a hamstring injury.
Batsmen: Ryan Broad, Peter Forrest, Matthew Hayden, Chris Lynn, Steve Paulsen, Andrew Robinson
Wicket-Keepers: Brendon McCullum, Chris Hartley
All-Rounders: Nick Buchanan, Ben Cutting (Injured will not play), Daniel Christian, Nathan Hauritz, James Hopes (c), Daniel Vettori
Bowlers: Matthew Gale, Ryan Harris, Alister McDermott, Michael Neser, Chris Swan
Coach: Darren Lehmann
Home Ground: Gabba | 2011-2012 Season Fixture

Lost Tim Paine for the summer and only have Ricky Ponting for a couple of games. This might be a long season for the Hurricanes unless their quality bowling attack rolls teams cheaply. That isn't a formula you can rely on.
  1. P Jaques
  2. M Cosgrove
  3. R Ponting
  4. O Shah
  5. T Birt +
  6. R Lockyear
  7. J Krejza
  8. R Naveed-ul-Hasan
  9. X Doherty
  10. M Hogan
  11. B Hilfenhaus
BEST SIGNING: Ricky Ponting
He might only play up until Boxing Day and then the last two games but he's that driven he might score a boatload of runs. Plus given the team lost Tim Paine - he's a huge plus leadership wise.
Could be past it - we'll find out as he's likely to open the innings. Then again he may not even get a run if Hobart decide Nick Kruger or Jonathan Wells deserve a shot ahead of an import. Have always liked Jaques but not sure he's the wisest purchase here.
FANTASY HIT: Mark Cosgrove
Has a fantastic eye and should get a chance at the top of the order once Ricky Ponting departs for the Tests. Might also get a bowl here and there, so he's worth investing in if you like the Hurricanes' chances. Given he missed Match One - another banker is Rana Naveed-ul-Hasan who has a killer slower ball and should get plenty of wickets.
He's never really made his name at International level and he's just not that good a player. But of course now he'll go out and average 30 for the Hurricanes.
ONE TO WATCH: Michael Hogan
Taking wickets at will with Western Australia and he's also been handy hitting runs down the order - so he's certainly one to keep an eye on bowling with bigger names like Rana Naveed-ul-Hasan and Ben Hilfenhaus. (Hogan strained an intercostal muscle before match one, another to look out for is Rhett Lockyear)
Batsmen: Mark Cosgrove, Phil Jaques, Nick Kruger, Asthon May, Ricky Ponting, Owais Shah, Jonathan Wells
Wicket-Keepers: Travis Birt, Tim Paine (c) (Injured will not play), Tom Triffitt
All-Rounders: Evan Gulbis (Injured will not play), Matt Johnston, Rhett Lockyear, Rana Naveed-ul-Hasan
Bowlers: Xavier Doherty, Luke Feldman, Ben Hilfenhaus, Michael Hogan, Jason Krejza, Ben Laughlin
Coach: Ali de Winter
Home Ground: Bellerive Oval | 2011-2012 Season Fixture

If Brad Hodge is fit for the whole competition then they'll make the Finals. If his hamstring isn't right - the Renegades will miss out. He's that valuable. Great pace bowling attack and two handy spinners - so basically if Hodge is fit they could win the thing.
  1. A Finch
  2. R Carters +
  3. B Hodge
  4. A McDonald (c)
  5. N Reardon
  6. S Afridi
  7. A Razzaq
  8. G Maxwell
  9. D Nannes
  10. J Herrick
  11. S Tait
BEST SIGNING: Shahid Afridi
Game changer with bat or ball - he's always been a player who was born to play T20 cricket and he'll be relied on greatly by the Renegades. Just make sure he's well fed before a game, he has a habit of eating the ball when peckish.
Still waiting for the results to equal the talent for this Pakistani. While his stats aren't bad, they aren't as good as everyone thought they may be as the next great hope after Wasim Akram retired.
If his hamstring doesn't keep him out too long - you have to pick Hodge. Few players can score a 100 in 20 overs, and Hodge is one of them.
Might have one or two games with a few wickets but could also go for plenty in the other matches. Pick a bowler who can also lend a hand with the bat as well if you can find another option.
ONE TO WATCH: Glenn Maxwell
Spin is always a factor in T20 cricket and Maxwell can also bat. Could be very useful if he secures a spot in the Starting XI.
Batsmen: Aaron Finch, Michael Hill, Brad Hodge
Wicket-Keepers: Ryan Carters, Graham Manou
All-Rounders: Shahid Afridi, Meyrick Buchanan, Andrew McDonald (c), Glenn Maxwell, Abdul Razzaq, Nathan Reardon, Will Sheridan
Bowlers: Shane Harwood, Aaron Heal, Jayde Herrick, Brenton McDonald, Dirk Nannes, Shaun Tait
Coach: Simon Helmont
Home Ground: Etihad Stadium | 2011-2012 Season Fixture

Shane Warne leads the way for the Stars and he is surrounded by good cricketers. Only James Pattinson and Peter Siddle will feature in Test Match cricket and that means the Stars have a huge advantage in terms of available players throughout the comp. Get on them for the title.
  1. M Wade +
  2. R Quiney
  3. C White (c)
  4. G Bailey
  5. D Hussey
  6. A Voges
  7. J Faulkner
  8. L Wright
  9. S Warne
  10. C McKay
  11. J Pattinson
Burnt hand or not he's the best signing across the entire Big Bash simply because he is... Shane Warne. May even take a few wickets along the way. Will put people in the stands and is the ultimate competitor even at 42 and down a few dress sizes.
Yet to see anything from this 'tearaway' quick that suggests he's got anything special. He'll be doing extremely well to even make 12th man if every Star is available.
FANTASY HIT: David Hussey
Another stud all-rounder in the T20 format. And won't be playing Test Cricket anytime soon.
FANTASY MISS: Peter Siddle
Don't waste your time with Siddle in the T20 format. He won't take the wickets or play enough games that you need to be a factor in Fantasy cricket.
ONE TO WATCH: James Faulkner
Picked up a finger injury in a warm-up but has a lot of admirers around Australian Cricket. Left arm bowler who swings the ball and can bat. Watch closely.
Batsmen: George Bailey, Peter Handscombe, Alex Keath, Robert Quiney
Wicket-Keepers: Matthew Wade
All-Rounders: James Faulkner, John Hastings (Injured will not play), David Hussey, Chris Simpson, Adam Voges, Cameron White (c), Luke Wright
Bowlers: Jackson Bird, Jade Dernbach, Jon Holland, Clint McKay, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, SHANE WARNE
Coach: Greg Shipperd
Home Ground: MCG | 2011-2012 Season Fixture

If Mitchell Johnson had been available the Scorchers would have been a great smokey pick for the title. The batting lineup is quality and very very long. Question will be who backs up Nathan Rimmington with the ball however.
  1. S Marsh
  2. H Gibbs
  3. S Katich
  4. M Hussey
  5. P Collingwood
  6. M North (c)
  7. M Marsh
  8. L Ronchi +
  9. N Rimmington
  10. B Edmondson
  11. B Hogg
BEST SIGNING: Simon Katich
Should bat quite high and be the anchor for the Scorchers. Can turn on the flair when he has to and his left arm spin could be quite potent if used.
He was never that good when he was in the Australian team and now he thinks he can still contribute after a short retirement. Could get absolutely destroyed if his bowling isn't up to scratch.
FANTASY HIT: Paul Collingwood
Will likely get his fair share of overs and bat in the Top 6... a nice combination for a statistical contribution to your Fantasy team. Has always been a great fielder too.
FANTASY MISS: Marcus North
The touch that got him into the Test team for a few years seems to have deserted him and he's never been one to tonk. A back injury also means he's barely bowled of late - so avoid.
ONE TO WATCH: Mitchell Marsh
Big fan of this kid. Bowls at a good clip and can hit in the lower middle order. Probably needs a big Big Bash to beat out Dan Christian for a future spot in the Australian T20 team.
Batsmen: Tom Beaton, Liam Davis, Herschelle Gibbs, Michael Hussey, Shaun Marsh
Wicket-Keepers: Luke Pomersbach, Luke Ronchi
All-Rounders: Paul Collingwood, Mitchell Johnson (Injured will not play), Simon Katich, Mitchell Marsh, Marcus North (c)
Bowlers: Michael Beer, Mark Cameron (Injured will not play), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Ryan Duffield, Ben Edmondson, Brad Hogg, Joe Mennie, Nathan Rimmington
Coach: Lachlan Stevens (formerly Mickey Arthur)
Home Ground: WACA Ground 2011-2012 Season Fixture

The Test Match drain could see the Sixers finish with the Wooden Spoon. If Shane Watson, Brad Haddin and Patrick Cummins were all available throughout the comp then they are a Finals team, but take them out and a team that has just a few too many under performing players means the Sixers might struggle.
  1. E Cowan
  2. S Watson
  3. N Maddinson
  4. D Bravo
  5. B Rohrer
  6. B Haddin (c) +
  7. S Smith
  8. M Henriques
  9. B Lee
  10. P Cummins
  11. S MacGill
BEST SIGNING: Dwayne Bravo
Fits the glitz and glamour approach by the Sixers perfectly and the added bonus is he can definitely play. Will be a fan favourite.
The Sixers are filled with all-rounders and Lumb isn't exactly the best player to come out of England in recent seasons. But apparently he's a T20 specialist and he's turned that reputation into a Big Bash deal. Good luck to him.
FANTASY HIT: Dwayne Bravo
Runs and wickets and athletic fielding = fantasy stud. Will play every game. Bank on him.
FANTASY MISS: Moses Henriques
Keep seeing him selected based on potential rather than performance. Maybe this will be his summer to shine in the Big Bash but don't expect a big return.
Will get his chance to open while Shane Watson is injured and anytime you get a chance to open in T20 cricket - you'll get opportunities to show people you can play.
Batsmen: Ed Cowan, Michael Lumb, Nic Maddison, Ben Rohrer
Wicket-Keepers: Brad Haddin (c), Peter Nevill
All-Rounders: Dwayne Bravo, Moses Henriques, Brett Lee, Ian Moran, Stephen O'Keefe, Steven Smith, Dominic Thornley, Shane Watson
Bowlers: Patrick Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Stuart MacGill, Mitchell Starc
Coach: Trevor Bayliss
Home Ground: SCG 2011-2012 Season Fixture

If David Warner was available all summer the Thunder might have been the best bet to crack the 220 run mark in a game... but as good as Chris Gayle is - the Thunder went with a cavalcade of no-name talent and that might be there undoing. Unless of course they all step up big time.
  1. C Gayle
  2. D Warner (c)
  3. U Khawaja
  4. T Cruickshank
  5. C Philipson
  6. L Butterworth
  7. B Dunk +
  8. S Abbott
  9. L Doran
  10. F Edwards
  11. D Bollinger
Pretty much plays T20 Cricket exclusively around the world now. The Thunder play 7 games and Gayle could easily score more than 300 runs and hit at a ridiculously high strike rate.
His Ryobi Cup 180-odd early in the summer ensured two things. One, NSW would pick him the rest of the year and Two, he wouldn't score 180 runs again in his lifetime. Ben Dunk might be the superior player anyway.
FANTASY HIT: Chris Gayle
For the reasons stated above abd he can bowl annoying off-spin. Plus he'll play all 7 games, while David Warner will miss a few while playing in the Baggy Green. 
FANTASY MISS: Fidel Edwards
He's got some pace but he goes for plenty of runs and should be avoided.
ONE TO WATCH: Luke Butterworth
If he's fit for the first game he's almost a must have Fantasy player as well. Bowls good right arm medium pace and has scored handy runs in domestic cricket. The Thunder will rely on him a lot of their star studded opening combo fails.
Batsmen: Tim Cruickshank, Chris Gayle, Philip Hughes (Unlikely to play, will focus on Grade Cricket instead), Usman Khawaja, Craig Philipson, David Warner
Wicket-Keepers: Ben Dunk, Daniel Smith
All-Rounders: Sean Abbott, Tim Armstrong, Luke Butterworth, Scott Coyte, Matthew Day, Jason Floros
Bowlers: Nic Bills, Doug Bollinger, Luke Doran, Fidel Edwards
Coach: Shane Duff
Home Ground: ANZ Stadium | 2011-2012 Season Fixture

Who do you think takes out the inaugural KFC T20 Big Bash?