Big Bash League 2017/18: Adelaide Strikers Preview

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ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 16: Ben Dunk of the Adelaide Strikers walks out to bat during the Big Bash League match between the Adelaide Strikers and the Melbourne Renegades at Adelaide Oval on January 16, 2017 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)

After an underwhelming season last year, the Adelaide Strikers have made several key changes to their squad. Travis Head has taken on the captaincy and they have signed South African Colin Ingram and Afghan wrist-spinner Rashid Khan. Their season begins on the 22nd December when they host Sydney Thunder. It will be a tough campaign for them, but they will be aiming to recreate their dominant performance from two seasons ago.

Batting

The bulk of Adelaide’s runs were scored by Ben Dunk last season. The hard-hitting left hander amassed the most runs in the competition, racking up an impressive 364 runs in the group stages. However, the Melbourne Stars have now signed him from the Adelaide Strikers, leaving a huge void in their top order. They have filled this by the signing of Colin Ingram, a fitting replacement. Ingram is a very experienced T20 batsman, consistently performing in the Natwest T20 Blast and is currently in the middle of a strong Ram Slam T20 campaign. His career T20 strike rate of 135 pays testament to the aggressive nature of Ingram, who is making his Big Bash League debut this season. Jake Weatherald is likely to partner Ingram at the top of the order this season. Weatehrald was far from impressive last season, averaging just over 16 in seven matches. He only crossed the fifty mark once. Perhaps this can be blamed on his youth and inexperience, but he will need to improve on this significantly this season.
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Newly appointed skipper Travis Head holds the key for the Strikers. Head is the all-time leading run-scorer for the Adelaide Strikers, with 614 career runs to his name. Like Weatherald, he failed to make any significant contributions last year. A high score of just 24 and a total of under 80 runs in five matches makes for grim reading. It could be the case that appointing Head captain was a tactical move. With the added burdens and pressures that captaincy brings, Head will have no choice but to set an example and lead from the front. It is hard to see how the responsibility of captaincy would reduce his batting to a worse state than last season.

Wicketkeeper Alex Carey was recently in the news for being an Ashes contender. While he has a relatively strong First-Class average, Carey was overlooked for Tim Paine who has since justified his selection. Carey, though, is very inexperienced in T20 cricket. He has only played two such games, one of them for the Adelaide Strikers. In that game he only faced one ball and failed to score off it. Tim Ludeman is usually Adelaide’s first-choice keeper, but he is no longer with the South Australian side. This, therefore, paves the way for Carey to have a full season behind the stumps and is a great opportunity for him to gain valuable T20 experience and to show the Australian selectors what they are missing out on.

Bowling

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The strength of this Adelaide side lies in their bowling. Earlier this year, the Strikers enlisted Australian great Peter Siddle to boost their fast bowling. Siddle, a vicious right arm pacer, was a key part of Australia’s Test side for many years. However, he is relatively inexperienced in T20s, playing only two matches internationally. Nevertheless, his other experience will bring a calming presence to their new-ball pair and it will be interesting to see how he fares in this format. The Adelaide Strikers have Ben Laughlin as well. Laughlin is the Strikers most capped player, representing them on fifty occasions, and has taken the most wickets in Big Bash League History. These two could make a formidable team and they could easily be considered to be the best new ball attack in the competition.

Rashid Khan’s presence will be another huge boost to the Strikers. The Afghan leg-spinner has been turning heads due to his young age of just 19. He had a phenomenal IPL season earlier in the year, where he took an incredible 17 wickets at an economy of just over 6.5. In a three match T20 series against the West Indies earlier this year, Khan picked up two wickets but only conceded 4.5 runs an over. There is a strong case to be made that he is the best leg-spinner in the world, for when he can’t take wickets he maintains the pressure strongly. His googly is what made him so dangerous in the subcontinent, so it is worth keeping an eye out for it this tournament. Khan is an entertainer and we can expect him to provide some magical spells throughout the tournament.

How will they do?

Their middle order is the main weakness for the Adelaide Strikers heading into the 2017/8 season. While their bowling attack is one of the strongest in the whole competition, it could be their batting that lets them down. They will need to perform exceptionally well to qualify from the groups, but it is likely that they will miss out on qualification. Strikers fans could be in for another frustrating season.

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