The 2018-19 Big Bash starts on Wednesday
Wednesday 19th December
Brisbane Heat v Adelaide strikers
The Heat will want to forget all about last year as they finished 7th. Though they were still in with a shout of the playoffs going into the final round of matches, an injury-depleted Heat did not perform at the level they would have liked. None of their team really stood out last year, and a big improvement is required if they are to challenge harder this year.
Despite lacking some big names for long periods like Lynn and Joe Burns last season, the Heat still had the third-highest strike rate. With those names hopefully being available for longer, they’re batting should be a lot stronger.
It should also be remembered that Matt Renshaw is making his return to the team after a year off.
The Strikers are the current defending champions. It was their first Big Bash title, and to simply say they ‘won’ the final, would be something of an understatement. Breakout star Jake Weatherald showed he was the man for the big occasion as he scored 115 off 70 balls as the Strikers posted their biggest ever Big Bash total.
It was a fitting end to a fantastic season as they won all but three of their group stage games and finished with a net run rate of an astonishing +0.801 (the next highest was +0.331).
Rashid Khan was the joint leading wicket-taker in the 2017/18 Big Bash and has become one of the closest things to an objectively good signing that a T20 team can make. The Strikers are 13/12 underdogs here with Sky bet and should be backed to get off to a winning start.
Thursday 20th December
Melbourne Renegades v Perth Scorchers
The Renegades performed brilliantly last year and were only stopped in the semi-final by the eventual winners Adelaide Strikers, having come third in the points table. They did all this without their star batsman and captain Aaron Finch playing anywhere near the level everyone knows he can.
The likes of recent call-up to the national squad Marcus Harris, and the ever-reliable Cameron White covered for Finch though, but with Harris and Finch in the current Australia Test squad, they could well need someone else to provide White with support.
Mitchell Marsh has been appointed as the new captain of Perth Scorchers for 2018-19.The Australia all-rounder steps up to replace Adam Voges, who has taken on the position of coach after Justin Langer joined the national team.
Marsh leads a squad which includes Cameron Bancroft, one of the Australia internationals currently serving a lengthy ban for ball-tampering. David Willey is thus far the only overseas signing in the Scorchers’ ranks in a settled squad that is always a contender and should be backed at 19/20 with Skybet to get off to a winning start here
Friday 21st December
Sydney Thunder v Melbourne Stars
Joe Root and Jos Buttler have signed up for a stint in this year’s tournament with Sydney Thunder. They have agreed deals with the franchise which will make them available for half of the campaign. Buttler returns to the side whom he represented on six occasions in 2017-18
The Stars endured an poor 2017/18 season. They finished rock-bottom of the points table having won just two of their matches, and most of the team that made up that squad have now departed. They were insipid with both bat and ball, and will be hoping the radical change in personnel can spur them on to perform at a far higher standard.
If the individuals which make up the Stars batting line-up perform as well as they can, then they should have a decent batting order. Glen Maxwell is a fantastic batsman while Marcus Stoinis is also a very capable player. However, having lost Kevin Pietersen and Luke Wright, despite their relatively tame form last year, their batting order appears to be lacking the star power it once had.
At home the Thunder should be backed at 10/11 with SkyBet