With bellies full of turkey, we farewell the jolly man in the red suit for another year and sit down to enjoy one of the great gifts of the holiday season - Boxing Day. We’ve already written our preview for the Boxing Day Test match and while we’re not expecting that contest to reach any great highs, the same can’t be said for the action-packed Big Bash League which will resume with Round 3 kicking off Saturday night.
Our best bet landed for the second round in a row, but we were disappointed to see the Scorchers drop their opening game. They’ll be looking to grab their first BBL05 victory on Boxing Day.
BBL05 Overall Profit/Loss: +4.60 units (5-3) (updated 29/12)
WACA, Saturday December 26th 7:10pm AEDST
Both teams are winless so far this season but seem to be at opposite ends of the BBL spectrum. The Scorchers lost against the Strikers, despite fielding a star-studded team full of international stars. As has been their problem in the past, they didn’t score enough runs. A few got starts but none went on with it. Their batsmen will enjoy things a little more against a weak Heat bowling attack.
The Scorchers will lose Adam Voges and Mitch Marsh to the Australian team, while Nathan Coulter-Nile appears out for the season after falling heavily on his shoulder last match. Shaun Marsh will also miss this game. Despite being dropped from the Australian side, Marsh apparently won’t make it back to Perth in time for this match, but will be available for their next match against the Renegades on the 30th of December.
The Scorchers will have some handy replacements with Jason Behrendorff, Marcus Harris and James Muirhead coming into their squad, along with Travis Birt who has been plucked from grade cricket to be added to the squad.
The Heat were again disappointing with the ball against the Hurricanes, conceding 184 runs and taking just three wickets. While their batting is dynamic, they are going to struggle to defend any score unless they can start taking wickets.
They need more from James Hopes and Ben Cutting with the ball, as well as Andrew Fekete and Mark Steketee as their strike bowlers. Samuel Badree was the only bowler to really stand up in their previous encounters.
Young all-rounder Jack Wildermuth has come into the Heat squad to provide a few more options at the expense of Alex Doolan.
Odds: Perth Scorchers ($1.57) vs Brisbane Heat ($2.42) at Sportsbet
Verdict: The Scorchers won’t drop this game and are our bet of the round. The Heat are headed for the wooden spoon while the Scorchers need to get their campaign going in order to defend their crown. The Scorchers have lost some very good players, but they have the depth to cover.
SCG, Sunday December 27th 7:10pm AEDST
This match should be a beauty. The Sydney Sixers find themselves on top of the ladder at the Christmas break with two solid wins against finals contenders after the disappointment of dropping the opening game of the season. With a good net run rate, they are on track for the finals.
However they continue to make some strange decisions with their squad. Johan Botha is a great all-round cricketer, but not convinced he’s a number six batsman, while Steve O’Keefe, a player picked in the Australian Test squad, played against the Renegades but didn’t even bowl. Strange. If you’re not going to use him, pick another batsman?
Fortunately for the Sixers, they got the job done against the Gades with Michael Lumb and Moises Henriques leading the way with two quality innings. Doug Bollinger has also been important with early wickets with the ball.
While the Sixers are going strong, the Stars will be desperate for a win in this match after dropping their opening two matches against two teams that weren’t expected to play finals. If the Stars go 0-3 with a tough draw to come, they may be in trouble to reach the finals.
The Stars will miss recruit Kevin Pietersen who headed back to the UK for the birth of his child. He’s been their best batsman so far, so they will need Glenn Maxwell, Peter Handscomb and skipper David Hussey to stand up. Marcus Stoinis has been good opening the batting, but he'll want some support from Luke Wright who continues to struggle.
The Stars have a great team on paper with plenty of options with bat or ball, but they need to bring some consistency in order to live up to their hype.
Odds: Sydney Sixers ($1.85) vs Melbourne Stars ($1.95) at Sportsbet
Verdict: Too close to call. At the prices, slight lean towards the Stars, but will be sitting this one out and enjoying the contest.
Bet: NO PLAY
Spotless Stadium, Monday December 28th 7:10pm AEDST
The Sydney Thunder are undefeated after the first two rounds! It’s been a sensational start for them, and holding their nerve to defeat the Stars on the final ball of the match, just proves that they have found that winning mentality.
However their first two wins have been setup on the back of the brilliance of two batsmen. Mike Hussey was sensational in the first game and Usman Khawaja belted one of the most exhilarating hundreds you’ll ever see in the last match against the Stars. That earned Khawaja a call up to the Test team which will be a big loss for the Thunder. They still have plenty of class with the bat with Jacques Kallis, Shane Watson and Mike Hussey who should always be batting in the top three. How will their middle/lower order fare if the top order fail?
The Thunder may be exposed in this contest with the ball. They rely heavily on their all-rounders in Watson, Kallis and Andre Russell to bowl their quota, and while they are experienced, they are not exactly strike weapons. They would like to see Gurinder Sandhu lift his output with a few wickets.
The Strikers have also had a perfect 2-0 start to the season with big wins over pre-season favourites in the Stars and the Scorchers. Their team is largely unheralded but it’s a great mix of T20 specialists. Alex Ross is proving to be a fantastic hitter to close out an innings, while Travis Head and Tim Ludeman are dangerous at the top of the order, and veterans Mahela Jayawardene and Brad Hodge gel them together nicely.
Their attack is also going well. Ben Laughlin and Kane Richardson are performing very well in this format, while Adil Rasheed may be one of the recruits of the season with his wily spin.
Odds: Sydney Thunder ($1.80) vs Adelaide Strikers ($2.00) at Sportsbet
Verdict: Another great game with the winner a chance to climb to the top of the ladder. The market has certainly come for the Thunder, but while they are certainly improved, are they really a title contender? For me, they still have some issues with the ball, and the Strikers are a more complete unit. They have knocked off the two heavyweights of the competition and should be more talked about as contenders. I think the Strikers will win and am happy to take the value on offer.
GABBA, Tuesday December 29th 7:10pm AEDST
A rematch between the Heat and the Hurricanes, must leave the Purple army licking their chops at the prospect of getting their season back on track after a disastrous start with back-to-back wins against the struggling Heat.
The Hurricanes were super strong in Hobart as they amassed a healthy score of 184. Tim Paine led the way at the top of the order, with valuable contributions from Kumar Sangakkara and George Bailey who looks in excellent touch. If the Canes are firing with the bat they are a dangerous opponent.
However they would have concerns over their bowling. Shaun Tait was ok and Sam Rainbird responded well after being belted for 19 from his first over, but you would think they might try their luck with Clive Rose as a spin option opening the bowling. Their best bowler has been Dan Christian who continues to take wickets at a good economy rate. Darren Sammy needs to contribute more as does Cameron Boyce.
The Heat are up for their second match for the round, and as we mentioned earlier they really need to find some wicket takers. Jason Floros worked fairly well opening the bowling, so perhaps a push towards spin would be beneficial with Samuel Badree bowling so well.
Chris Lynn is also due for a big score, and I would love to see him bat in the top three to give him an opportunity to work himself into the game. Having him bat below Peter Forrest is just criminal. They need to try something different if they are to break the duck.
Odds: Brisbane Heat ($2.08) vs Hobart Hurricanes ($1.74) at Sportsbet
Verdict: The market is not yet convinced about the Hurricanes, as once again we’re given a pretty good price on the purple army. Assuming that the Heat lose to the Scorchers, this price may shorten, so we’re happy to take the early value about the Hurricanes. Take advantage of the Sportsbet promotion as this contest is usually a high-scoring shootout.
Take note: Any of the tips in this article are simply the author’s opinion, so bet at your own risk and always gamble responsibly. Also be sure to check out the Before You Bet Twitter Page for all our thoughts in the lead up to bets! Happy punting!
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