The first four matches of the seventh Big Bash League take place between Tuesday 19th and Friday 22nd of December as follows:
All prices quoted are from William Hill.
Sydney Thunder v Sydney Sixers
The Thunder have recruited shrewdly in the off-season, but they will be missing plenty of star power from previous years. West Indian allrounder Andre Russell and English batsman Eoin Morgan leave big gaps to fill, and Australian stars Patrick Cummins and Usman Khawaja are missing at the start of the competition due to international duty. However overseas duo Jos Buttler and Mitchell McClenaghan are genuine match-winners while Australian veteran Callum Ferguson is a handy pick-up for the BBL05 champions. The key for the Thunder will be to start well; three of their first four games are away from home so if they can open the season with a 2-2 record, they will be in a good position.
The Sixers have changed little to their roster from last season, a group of players that made it all the way to the final despite lacking the depth of star power enjoyed by some other clubs. They will be keen to get off to a good start to the tournament before English imports Jason Roy and Sam Billings are required for international duty, although they’ll be boosted by the return of spinner Nathan Lyon after the Ashes Series. Just like they did last season, the likes of Henriques, Daniel Hughes and Sean Abbott will be relied on to lead the way for Sixers.
Prices here for the Sydney Derby are Thunder 11/10 Sixers 9/10
Brisbane Heat v Melbourne Stars
The jury is still out as to the extent of Chris Lynn’s availability but if he’s playing that will be a huge boost for the hosts to go alongsidethe other half of the ‘Bash Brothers’, Brendon McCullum. The Kiwi is back in action after surgery on a broken arm suffered during the Caribbean Premier League.
Can the Melbourne Stars finally break their BBL hoodoo? The powerhouse outfit have failed year after year when it comes to the knock-out stages, with defeat in the BBL05 final at the MCG particularly galling.
There’s plenty of must-see star power in this line-up. But perhaps the most intriguing development will be how new captain John Hastings goes in his first season in charge. He gave up the longer formats at the start of this summer after succumbing to injury issues, and is throwing everything into his T20 career
Last season’s leading run-scorer will not have come cheap for the Melbourne Stars and the expectations will be sky high for new recruit Ben Dunk. Lured out of Adelaide to strengthen the batting at the MCG, Dunk has done his best work opening the batting, yet that has hardly been a problem area for the Stars with Rob Quiney partnering with Luke Wright, the BBL’s most consistent and longest-serving import player.
Prices here are Heat 11/10 Stars 19/20
Hobart Hurricanes v Melbourne Renegades
The Hobart Hurricanes didn’t have the happiest of seasons in 2016-17, winning just three matches and finishing one place above the foot of the ladder. Unfortunately, things don’t look too much better for the men in purple this time around.
I just don’t see enough quality changes in the Hurricanes’ playing squad from last year, which makes me wonder whether they have the personnel to improve on a disappointing last couple of seasons.
However, there have been sweeping changes off the field, symptomatic of the wider overhaul in Tasmanian cricket, with a new Coach, new management and two new overseas signings, so it feels like a fresh start in some respects after the failure of the past few seasons.
I think their lack of high-quality spinners, and lack of quality T20 batsmen outside of Bailey, will mean this side will struggle to get into the finals
The most bankable of Big Bash blasters, Aaron Finch played all eight games for the Renegades last year (finishing just two runs off the tournament’s leading run-scorer Ben Dunk) after losing his spot in Australia’s one-day side. The opener is likely to be back in green and gold this summer for the back-end of the BBL.
After crossing from Adelaide Strikers on a bumper five-year deal, fast bowler Kane Richardson is a big recruit for a side that will need some fast-bowling firepower in James Pattinson’s absence. The pacey Richardson played just two games for the Strikers last summer due to injury. He’s established a reputation as one of the country’s better death bowlers
The Hurricanes are 11/10 home underdogs and the Renegades 10/11 favourites here
Adelaide Strikers v Sydney Thunder
The Strikers have lost a wealth of experience from last year’s squad, with the likes of captain Brad Hodge along with Ben Dunk, Jon Holland, Kane Richardson and Tim Ludeman all departing. That veteran nous is difficult to replace in a format that older players have tended to thrive in and the exits of Hodge and Dunk – their two leading run-scorers last season – in particular will hurt.
While the Strikers’ batsmen collectively need to lift in Hodge and Dunk’s absence, new recruit Peter Siddle will be expected the lead Adelaide’s attack and pick up wickets with the new ball.
The Thunder have recruited shrewdly in the off-season, but they will be missing plenty of star power from previous years. West Indian allrounder Andre Russell and English batsman Eoin Morgan leave big gaps to fill, and Australian stars Patrick Cummins and Usman Khawaja missing due to international duty. Overseas duo Jos Buttler and Mitchell McClenaghan are genuine match-winners, while Australian veteran Callum Ferguson is a handy pick-up for the BBL05 champions. The key for the Thunder will be to start well; three of their first four games are away from home so if they can open the season with a 2-2 record
The Strikers begin the competition as 10/11 favourites, and the Thunder even money for their second game