We’re roughly a third of the way through the fifth edition of the Big Bash League and county players are making headlines Down Under. Kevin Pietersen, Michael Lumb, Kumar Sangakkara and Glenn Maxwell are impressing the crowds with their experience and showmanship, while spinner Adil Rashid is having an excellent time in Adelaide.
The two Sydney teams are fighting it out at the top of the table and current champions Perth Scorchers are in fourth place with games in hand. Only Sydney Thunder are unbeaten at this stage, while Brisbane Heat is yet to take a win.
Here’s the run down of how your favourite county cricketers are performing so far. Information correct as of Tuesday 29th December.
Yorkshire’s Adil Rashid is having a good run so far with Adelaide, who site third on the table. He took 2/27 in the defeat by Melbourne Stars, but was played a crucial role when his side travelled to Perth to meat the defending champions. Again taking two wickets, he removed the ever-dangerous Michael Carberry and local favourite Mitchell Marsh before either were able to really get moving. His spin seemed to confound the West coast lads and helped the Strikers to their first victory. In Adelaide’s second victory, Rashid put on 25 lower order runs against table-toppers Sydney Thunder, although he was less successful with the ball.
Despite a few good knocks with the bat, and those largely due to the power of Chris Lynn, Brisbane are yet to take a win in this year’s tournament. The BBL02 champions are missing Joe Burns and Brendan McCullum, because of their international duties.
Former Hampshire man George Bailey was the only batter to make any headway in Hobart’s drubbing by the Sydney Sixers at the SCG, reaching 62 before he ran out of partners. Hobart’s superstar, Surrey’s Kumar Sangakkara was expected to lead the way in Hobart’s run chase. Instead, he came out on the wrong side of some quality spin from Nathan Lyon and was removed first ball.
Sangakkara was able to redeem himself more than adequately in Hobart’s second match, however, making 43 off 35 balls and taking his side to 99/2 before he was removed. The Sri Lankan international may be getting on in years, but his quality shone through in this innings and his fluid style was a pleasure to watch with the bat. Bailey, having a good tournament so far, also made 40 runs as the Hurricanes took their first victory.
In their second victory, a high scoring affair against Brisbane Heat, Bailey and Sangakkara both added a few runs to the 198 total. Ultimately, however, both took a back seat to Dan Christian and his big sixes.
The red Melbourne side has only played two matches to date, but former Yorkshire batter Aaron Finch is already showing us his explosive style. Chasing down a huge total against Brisbane at the Gabba, Finch lead the way with a big-hitting 65 off 45 balls. Former Northants man Cameron White added 55 runs and the two made a record partnership of 111 runs, the highest second wicket stand for the Renegades. In the course of the match, Finch became the first batter to reach 1000 runs in the Big Bash.
Finch only managed 13 runs in the Renegades second outing, this time against Sydney Sixers, but sometime Derbyshire man Nathan Rimmington took four wickets, including that of Michael Lumb who was having an excellent night.
Kevin Pietersen has reminded us yet again why the England and Surrey fans love him. Although he made just 22 in the loss to Adelaide, in the Stars’ second match his brilliance shone through both with the bat and in the field. Chasing down Thunder’s 178, which was largely the work of just one man, KP made 76 off 42 and took the chase down to the wire. Had he not been caught spinner Fawad Ahmed, the victory would’ve belonged to the red Melbourne side. Instead, Ahmed held on to the catch and Thunder took the win by just one run.
Pietersen missed out on the Stars’ third game, as he returned to the UK for the birth of his first daughter. He is expected to be back for the Melbourne derby on January 2nd.
Unable to really get runs on the board, Sussex’s Luke Wright hasn’t had a fantastic showing so far. Yorkshire’s Glenn Maxwell, on the other hand, has done well. Ever the showman, we’ve seen a couple of fine displays from the all-rounder including a pile of boundaries, important wickets and even a switch-hit. His two wickets against Sydney Thunder removed Mike Hussey and Shane Watson, potentially saving a lot of runs and keeping the target within reach.
Making up for the lack of KP against Sydney Sixers, in Stars’ only victory to date, Maxwell made a crucial half century that, along with 52 from Peter Handscomb, made up the bulk of the successful run chase.
Michael Carberry and David Willey have had a slow start to BBL05 with the bat, although Willey looked more at home with the ball in Perth’s first outing, at home to Adelaide. Northamptonshire’s favourite son showed why Yorkshire have snapped him up, removing the very powerful Jayawardene, although it was too late to prevent a Strikers victory.
Neither player was able to pick up their bat in the Scorchers’ second match, however, as the job was more than adequately done by Gloucestershire captain, Michael Klinger. After making 19 runs in the first match, Klinger made a belligerent 53* against Brisbane Heat in that second game to easily reach the target of 118.
The reigning champs have followed their annual tradition of losing their first game, then coming back rejuvenated with a quality bowling side ably supported by decent batting. Justin Langer has made this his recipe for success and the fantastic David Willey already looks to be fitting in nicely with both bat and ball.
Michael Lumb is an old hand at Big Bash cricket, but this season didn’t start out so well. He’s made a few runs, in Sixers’ first match at least, but has also been the subject of a dodgy LBW call and managed to drop an absolute sitter in the opening match.
Things have improved, however, and in the Sixers’ third outing we saw a Lumb that Notts fans would recognise. Opening the run chase, with a heft target of 173, Lumb made a brutal 35 ball 63, with five 6s in the mix. A big chase it may have been, but the victory looked almost assured when Lumb and Moises Henriques made 23 runs off the 13th over.
In the Sixers’ fourth match, and the most recent to date, Lumb looked just as powerful and the boundaries started fast but he only reached 15 before being lbw to Michael Beer in the third over.
The Sixers have played the most games so far and sit second in the table, with two wins and two losses. On paper they are the best side in the competition, but they have not won the title since BBL01.
He’s not been around much, due to his commitments to the Australian test side, but when he did appear Usman Khawaja made quite a show of himself. His one match was against Kevin Pietersen’s Melbourne Stars and could very well have been a Thunder loss despite Khawaja’s 109*.
In the end, it was a one run victory for the Sydney side and former Lancashire and Derbyshire batter Khawaja, with his test place in question, went back to the baggy green a happy man.
Thunder currently top the big bash table with three wins in three. They have a solid batting lineup, lead by the seemingly unstoppable Mike Hussey, and an experienced set of bowlers including Clint McKay and Jacques Kallis. It’s been a pretty ordinary showing from the Thunder in all Big Bash tournaments to date. Is this the year that other Sydney side takes the trophy?