The new BBL Season begins on Wednesday 19th December in Australia, for its eighth season. The Adelaide Strikers are the defending champions, the Perth Scorchers over the long term the most successful franchise
In T20 Franchise cricket with the teams going through constant changes it is hard to predict a winner for the season.
What are The Big Bash Winner Odds?
Perth Scorchers – 5.5
Adelaide Strikers – 7.0
Brisbane Heat – 7.0
Melbourne Stars – 7.2
Melbourne Renegades – 7.8
Hobart Hurricanes – 8.6
Sydney Sixers – 9.4
Sydney Thunder – 10.5
Three-time champions and perennial semi-finalists Perth Scorchers go into BBL08 as favourites. They’ve retained the nucleus of their squad that dropped just two games on their way to finishing top of the ladder last season, before crashing out in the semi-finals to the Hurricanes. The major omissions from last year are veterans Adam Voges and Mitchell Johnson
They should be boosted by the availability of star pacemen Jason Behrendorff and Nathan Coulter-Nile who both missed the entire BBL07 due to injury. Their inclusion strengthens what is already a high-class bowling attack. Another positive is that international one-day representatives Mitch Marsh, Andrew Tye and Ashton Agar should only miss a handful of games
The chief concern for the Scorchers is their batting. Michael Klinger isn’t as dominant as he once was and question marks surround who will join him at the top of the order with David Willey, Josh Inglis, Cameron Bancroft and Sam Whiteman all in the mix.
I would certainly be looking for opportunities to be with their international-standard attack, however with doubts over their batting I can’t be backing Perth outright at such a short price.
The defending champions will be looking to become the first side to go back-to-back since Perth in 2014/15 and based on the strength of their squad they should at least feature in the semi-finals.
One of the primary reasons that the Strikers lifted the trophy was that all of their top four – Alex Carey, Jake Weatherald, Travis Head and Colin Ingram – contributed at different points throughout the season.
In BBL08 their main challenge will be that Head is likely to only play a couple of games, while Carey will also miss some of the season due to international commitments.
The Strikers’ bowling attack is headlined by star Afghani leg-spinner Rashid Khan who has continued to bamboozle batsmen in global T20 tournaments.
With the market having reacted to their victory in BBL07 I would need a bit more margin before siding with the Strikers, however they aren’t a side I would wish to take on.
The Heat have consistently boasted one of the most exciting line-ups in the competition and this season looks no different. Whether they can turn panache into results remains to be seen.
The batting has a frightening look to it, headlined by “Bash Brothers” Chris Lynn and Brendon McCullum who between them hit 396 runs at a strike-rate of 144.53 in BBL07.
However whilst no other side in the tournament can call upon the power and depth of Brisbane’s batting, there is arguably no team with a weaker bowling attack.
Following a disastrous BBL07 the Melbourne Stars have made sweeping changes in a desperate bid to get back to winning ways.
Starting at the top of the order they have brought in destructive opener Nic Maddinson to partner Ben Dunk who failed to fire in his first season for the Stars. Gone are long-standing international recruits Luke Wright and Kevin Pietersen, replaced by prolific West Indian all-rounder Dwayne Bravo and Nepalese spin sensation Sandeep Lamichhane. Commitments to the Bangladesh Premier League mean that Lamichhane will miss a chunk of the tournament with English quick Liam Plunkett drafted in as his replacement.
Perpetual underachievers Melbourne Renegades took a step in the right direction last season, finishing third before going down by just one run in the semis to eventual champions Adelaide.
International recognition looms as a major stumbling block for the Renegades with first-choice opening pair Aaron Finch and Marcus Harris both finding their way into test calculations.
One area where the Renegades do look decidedly stronger in BBL08 is in the bowling department. Bravo’s overseas spot will be shared by Pakistani left-arm quick Usman Khan Shinwari and English ace Harry Gurney, while the evergreen Brad Hogg has been replaced by the ultra-consistent Cameron Boyce.
Whilst many may write off the Renegades based on the absence of their opening duo, I like the changes they have made to their squad
Last season’s surprise package the Hobart Hurricanes went from wooden spoon favourites to finalists off the back of some breath-taking individual performances.
Opener Darcy Short enjoyed a career-defining campaign, topping the run-scoring charts with 572 runs at an average of 57.20 and strike-rate of 148.57 including a masterful 122 not out against the Brisbane Heat. With the ball English quick Jofra Archer proved a revelation, picking up 16 wickets with an economy rate under eight an over after only coming as a late replacement
The issue for the Hurricanes is that they cannot rely on a replication of these stunning solo achievements, thus needing the remainder of the squad to all show some improvement.
The Sixers’ BBL07 campaign was almost over before it began, losing their first six games. They recovered to finishjust two points outside the top four and with a superior net run rate to two of the four semi-finalists.
A big factor in that late-season renaissance was English opener Joe Denly who hit 146 runs from those four victories and as a result the punishing right-hander has been retained as one of their international representatives.
Champions three seasons ago, the Thunder have slipped back into their malaise with a sixth-placed finish last season coming after finishing rock bottom in BBL06, a position they are again favoured to occupy in this year’s tournament.
The Thunder’s batting looks heavily reliant on English pair Jos Buttler and Joe Root who will actually depart the competition at the half-way mark, replaced by Anton Devcich and Chris Jordan.
With poor fast-bowling stocks and a top-heavy batting line-up I can’t be tempted to invest on the Thunder, even at such hefty odds.
For value, against the best teams Perth and Adelaide I like the look of the Melbourne Stars at 7.2 on Betfair