We are now three weeks into the 2018/19 Big Bash season and little has gone to script so far in this thrilling T20 extravaganza. Giants have been toppled, new stars have risen to the fore and fans have been treated to some wonderful bowling and daring batting. Here are the five biggest talking points so far:
The Favourites Falter
Perennial contenders Perth Scorchers went into BBL08 as the outright favourites to win a fourth title in eight years. They are the most successful team in the competition’s history, having never finished outside the top three in the ladder and reached five out of seven finals. The team deemed most likely to stop them was Brisbane Heat, the second favourites before the campaign began. However, when those two locked horns at the weekend, it turned out to be a bottom of the table clash. The Heat were winless, and the Scorchers had lost four out of five. In the end, Brisbane secured a thumping victory to leapfrog Perth and consign Adam Voges’ men to the bottom of the ladder. That is a pretty inexcusable position for such a talented squad, but Perth’s batting has been woeful this season. The bowling has been strong, if a little inconsistent, but big names like Michael Klinger have failed to deliver and the Scorchers are set for their worst ever Big Bash season. The picture is not looking much better for the Heat, and a new order has established itself at the top of the BBL table.
Here Comes The Story of The Hurricanes
Hobart made a blistering start to the season by winning their opening five games to surge to the top of the ladder. That run came crashing to a halt when they were finally toppled on Monday in a shock defeat at the hands of the struggling Melbourne Renegades. However, there is still plenty of cause for optimism surrounding Hobart, retain a strong grip on top spot of the ladder. They have already secured victories over most of their rivals, with D’Arcy Short in fine form. His 62 off 42 balls to see off the Sixers came the day he was dropped from the Australian ODI team, sending a timely reminder of what they are missing. The rampaging Hurricanes finished as runners-up last year and the leading bookmakers listed at Odds.com.au still make them favourites to go one better and win the title this season, despite that recent defeat. They lead the league for sixes, providing great entertainment for the fans, and their bowling has been strong, so they will take some stopping.
Buttler Proves His Worth
England’s Jos Buttler made his third half-century in four innings in Sydney Thunder’s thrilling one-run victor over Perth earlier this month. His 55 off 54 balls made all the difference and it left him as the top scorer in the league, ahead of Short, Jake Weatherald and Ashton Turner. He has now finished his stint in the Big Bash and jetted back to the UK alongside Joe Root and Joe Denly. England have a Test in the West Indies and Buttler will be a big miss for the Thunder. While his national team captain Root struggled, averaging just 13 in five BBL matches, Buttler was on fire. He struck four fours and a six to see off Perth, just one of many sensational performances he gave for the team. He left with the Thunder sitting in the middle of the ladder, and they now have a big hole in the team as they try to reach the finals.
O’Keefe Emerges as The Scourge of Batsmen
Sydney Sixers’ spinner Steve O’Keefe is the leading wicket taker in the Big Bash so far after putting 13 batsmen to the sword in seven games. He has caused headaches for opposition batsmen throughout the season and he has not gone wicketless in any game in the tournament. The left-arm tweaker boasts an average of 14.46, with a strike rate of 12.9, and he has proved to be a devastating weapon for a strong Sixers team. They won four of their opening seven games, and they have a strong chance of reaching the semi-finals if he keeps up the good work.
Sams Shames The Fast Bowling Fraternity
Daniel Sams’ phenomenal power hitting has been one of the highlights of the BBL so far, showing his prowess as an all-rounder. The left-arm quick has emerged as an in-form slogger and he dazzled with 42 off 25 balls as the Thunder crushed the Melbourne Stars at the weekend. Only Short and Buttler have more sixes than him in the tournament, and his strike rate is comparable with Andre Russell. Pat Cummins and Ben Cutting are the only other quicks in Australia to show such aptitude with the bat, and Sams might force his way into the international reckoning on this evidence.
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