The Big Bash League is back baby! – The sixth edition of the tournament has begun, after what can only be described as a breakout year in terms of the growth in popularity. But the best news of all it is back bigger and better than before. International superstars like Dwayne Bravo, Andre Russell, Ian Bell, David Willey, Brendon McCullum, Jason Roy and the most hated man in the country during the last home ashes series – Stuart Broad have arrived as marquee players to add some international flair to the competition. Just 4 days in, at the end of the first round, there have been numerous talking points setting social media into a frenzy including the black bat used by Andre Russell (or perhaps better known simply as Dre Russ) and Ricky Pointing singing the song written by the Barmy Army about Mark Waugh on national television. Whilst some teams have gotten out of the blocks flying, others have struggled in the opening round. However, the stars still are yet to begin their campaign for the BBL06 title despite three teams already having played 2 games, in a schedule akin in complexity to the current Super Rugby Final System. What is there not to love about this competition? Cricket in primetime for almost the next 40 nights. SO strap yourselves as we take you through the action and talking points from the first round of games.
BBL Ladder After Round 1
After the first 5 matches Hobart Hurricanes sit atop of the BBL ladder with one win due to their superior NRR (Net Run Rate) over the Melbourne Renegades, Perth Scorchers and Brisbane Heat. The Sydney Thunder were the most successful of the teams which played twice, heading into the two-day Christmas break 1-1. The stars are currently in sixth, through no fault of their own whilst the Adelaide Strikers and Sydney Thunder (last year’s champions) will be hoping the man in the red suit brings them a few wins post-Christmas with both teams having failed to register a point despite having played two games each.
Match 1 – Thunder Vs Sixers (Sydney Smash)
BBL 06 kicked off at Spotless Stadium in Sydney with the Thunder hosting their cross town rivals the Sixers in what promised to be a blockbuster game. The Sixers won the toss and elected to field, posting a total of 8/159 thanks to 53 from Ryan Gibson and a late cameo from Pat Cummins of 30 off 20 balls. Joe Mennie, Be Dwarshuis and Doug Bollinger all picked up two wickets a piece for the Sixers, however the real talking point of the innings was when Andre Russell walked to the middle with a completely Black bat, bringing back memories of the golden bat used by Chris Gale last season. The Sixers chased down the 160 required with 9 wickets and 2 overs to spare thanks to 54 from Daniel Hughes and 76 off 41 from Moses Henriques after being dropped on nought first ball.
Match 2 – Strikers Vs Heat
Game 2 saw a high scoring with in excess of 400 runs being scored when the Heat travelled to the Adelaide Oval to take on the Strikers. The visitors batted first, after losing the toss and posted an imposing total of 5/206 of their 20 overs. Alex Ross was the standout against his old side (after having changed teams in the off-season) hitting 64 off 46 balls. International Brendon McCullum and Jimmy Peirson combined well to be both make forties for the men in teal. The required run rate at the start of the innings was 10.30 and the Strikers openers Jake Weatherald and Ben Dunk turned the game on its head. When Weatherald was dismissed on the first ball of the 12th over for 52, the score was 133 and the Strikers were on track. His partner in crime, Ben Dunk, fell for 85 off 52. However a crucial and rare maiden bowled by Samuel Badree, great captaincy by MucCullm and 3 wickets at the death to Mark Steketee ensured that the Brisbane Heat won by 10 runs.
Match 3 – Renegades Vs Thunder
After losing in the opening game of the season, the Thunder were keen to get into the winners circle when they took on the Renegades away at Etihad Stadium. The Thunder won the toss and put the Renegades in. A 63 off 37 by Aaron Finch helped the Melbourne based side reach 179 off there 20 overs. Andre Russell was the pick of the bowlers for the men in green taking 2 wickets. The Thunder’s chase got off to a shaky start losing Kurtis Paterson first ball of the innings. From there they never recovered, being bowled out in the final over for 130, 49 runs short of the target.
Match 4 – Sixers Vs Hurricanes
The Sixers won the toss at the SCG and elected to bowl first (see the pattern yet!). The Hurricanes posted 6 for 200 thanks to 63 for wicket keeper batsman Tim Paine and 61 from D’Arct Short on debut. Shaun Tait picked up 3 wickets for the sixers as they easily defended their total, bowling the Sixers out for 140 in 16.2 overs. This was despite forties made by both the sixers international marque players Jason Roy and Sam Billings.
Match 5 –Scorchers Vs Strikers
The second match in the double-header saw the Strikers travel west to the WACA to take on the most successful side in BBL history, the Perth Scorchers. The Scorchers where looking to win their first game in a season since the first edition of the tournament. The Strikers won the toss and elected to bowl (Yes…again. This is getting too predictable). 61 from English import Ian Bell and 44 not out off only 19 balls by Ashton Turner propelled the scorchers to a total of 7 for 197. The Strikers never looked to be in the game and were restricted to 149 from their 20 overs. A fighting 56 from Brad Hodge and 45 from the big hitting tail ender Kane Richardson weren’t enough for the Strikers. Mitchell Johnson stared in his first match post international retirement taking three wickets.
That wraps up the action from the opening round of the BBL06. Round 2 sees the Hurricanes host the Stars on Boxing Day, the Sixers play the Scorchers at the SCG and the Heat travel to Sydney to play the Thunder on the 28th.