After a long wait the Big Bash is finally back for the tenth edition of the BBL. It’ll look very different as the pandemic forces the season to be split into bubbles in various parts of the country. The season begins on Thursday night as the Hobart Hurricanes host the defending champions, the Sydney Sixers, at Blundstone Arena. The champs have strengthened their squad from last season with the signings of Dan Christian and Carlos Brathwaite. Whilst the Hurricanes are going to be in a tough position to start the season as Matthew Wade and Tim Paine are on Test duties. Whilst there are concerns over import Dawid Malan who was set to be available after christmas, but with the cancelation of England’s tour of South Africa and the withdrawals of fellow Englishmen Tom Banton and Tom Curran, there are fears we may not see the world’s number one ranked T20I batsmen.
D’Arcy Short and Colin Ingram will be under an immense amount of pressure to perform well with the bat early in the tournament. The Hurricanes batting lineup looked thin last season when Matthew Wade was unavailable and it looks like the same story will unfold in BBL10. With the ball however, the Hurricanes have plenty of options. Riley Meredith, Scott Boland and James Faulkner will headline a bowling attack that is set to give opposition sides massive headaches. There are no such concerns of batting depth for the Sixers with the likes of Phillipe, Vince, Hughes, Silk, Christian and Brathwaite giving the Sixers one of the most powerful batting units in the competition. With the ball however, the Sixers do look vulnerable. Ben Dwarshius and Steven O’Keefe will be reliable with the ball, but opposition sides will look to target Lloyd Pope and Gurinder Sandhu who have been taken apart by teams in the past.
The Hurricanes play their first four games at home in Tasmania, so it is crucial they get off to a fast start this season. Whilst on the contrary the Sixers play their first ten games on the road, so if they can keep themselves in the mix during the road stretch, they’ll be well positioned to make a serious tilt at back to back titles. The Hurricanes lead the head to head matchup 6-5, with Hobart defeating the Sixers last year in the only completed match between the two sides. The Canes have had the wood over the Sixers in recent times, winning 4 out of their last five encounters with the Sixers.
Hobart Hurricanes vs Sydney Sixers (BBL10) Preview & Tips
Thursday December 10, Blundstone Arena, 7:15pm AEDT
Hurricanes Squad: Scott Boland, Johan Botha, Tim David, Jake Doran, Nathan Ellis, James Faulkner, Peter Handscomb, Colin Ingram, Will Jacks, Caleb Jewell, Ben McDermott, Riley Meredith, David Moody, Mitch Owen, Wil Parker, D'Arcy Short, Charlie Wakim, Nick Winter, Mac Wright
Sixers Squad: Justin Avendano, Nick Bertus, Jackson Bird, Carlos Brathwaite, Dan Christian, Ben Dwarshuis, Jack Edwards, Mickey Edwards, Moises Henriques, Jason Holder, Daniel Hughes, Hayden Kerr, Ben Manenti, Lawrence Neil-Smith, Stephen O'Keefe, Josh Philippe, Lloyd Pope, Tom Rogers, Gurinder Sandhu, Jordan Silk, James Vince
With Wade out for the majority of the tournament and Dawid Malan not available until after christmas, a lot of weight goes onto the shoulders of D’Arcy Short and Colin Ingram to score the bulk of the runs for the Hurricanes. Over the past two seasons, no team has been more reliant on their openers than the Hurricanes. With their openers averaging 43 runs per wicket at a strike rate of 141.81. Short had an excellent BBL09 campaign, scoring 357 runs at an average of 44, with a strike rate of 130. Ingram last played for the Adelaide Strikers in BBL08, scoring 333 runs at an average of 30, with a strike rate of 138. Peter Handscomb will add some stability to the middle order but can the likes of Ben McDermott or Mac Wright help take the pressure off Short? Both showed glimpses of brilliance last season, but can they put it together for an entire season? Or will young Englishmen Will Jacks light up the tournament and announce himself as a future star of world cricket?
Whilst the dominance of Wade and Short is what was talked about for the Hurricanes last season, their bowling attack flew well under the radar. Hobart had five players take 10 or more wickets with Scott Boland (15), Qais Ahmed (12), Nathan Ellis (12), James Faulkner (10) and Riley Meredith (10). The Canes lost Ahmed but gained Sandeep Lamichhane who took 15 wickets for the Melbourne Stars last season, Sandeep will come into the side in January. The depth of this Hurricanes bowling attack is something that should have Hurricanes fans excited, and it will keep them in games if their batsmen aren’t performing.
Whilst he failed to perform in the T20I series for Australia, D’Arcy Short has dominated the Big Bash in the last few seasons. Last season Short played only nine games yet still managed to pile on 357 runs, whilst in BBL08 and BBL07 he led the league in runs with 637 runs and 572 runs respectively. Short also loves playing against the Sixers, Short’s 250 runs are the most for any player in Hurricanes vs Sixers games across the history of the BBL. In his five matches against the Sixers Short has scored 51, 32, 64, 42 and 61, 250 runs at an average of 50 against the reigning champs. Expect Short to kick off his BBL10 campaign with a big score at a ground he has dominated at over the past few seasons.
Short Top HOB Runscorer
The defending champs were a model of consistency throughout BBL09 getting performances from top to bottom with bat and ball. Josh Phillipe (487 runs), James Vince (323), Moises Henriques (267) and Daniel Hughes (267) were all inside the top 26 highest run scorers in the competition last season. Whilst Tom Curran (22 wickets), Ben Dwarshius (16) and Sean Abbot (14) were all inside the top 16 leading wicket takers last season. Although the loss of Tom Curran is big, with the additions of Dan Christian and Carlos Brathwaithe, the Sixers have added even more depth to their squad from last season. With the Sixers likely to be the most affected team with players on international duty, they needed this depth desperately.
The Sixers bowling depth will be tested without their international stars, so there will be plenty of pressure on Ben Dwarshius and Steven O’Keefe who have performed well for the Sixers over a long period of time. Lloyd Pope, Jackson Bird and Gurinder Sandhu have been taken apart by opposing batsmen across the last few seasons of the big bash, so Dan Christian and Carlos Brathwaite providing consistent performances with the ball will be crucial to the Sixers title aspirations.
The signing of Dan Christian might just come off to be the best recruitment of the off season. Christian has established himself as one of the best T20 all rounders in the world, and he just keeps getting better with age. Christian is coming off an impressive campaign for Nottinghamshire where he led them to another title, picking up player of the final after taking 4/23 and making 21 not out to get his side over the line. With Tom Curran out for the entire tournament and the likes of Abbott, Starc, Hazlewood on Test duties for the majority of the tournament, Christian’s ability with the ball is going to be crucial. He may have had a quiet BBL09 campaign in a Renegades side that struggled, but his BBL08 campaign where he single handedly dragged the Renegades to the title, picking up 15 wickets, shows the class he has with the ball. With a lot of questions surrounding the Sixers bowling lineup, there is great value for Christian as the Sixers leading wicket taker.
Christian Top SYD Wicket Taker
The Sixers possess the deepest roster in the BBL and it’s going to be more important than ever this season. They may look a little vulnerable up top with the ball, but they should be able to cope with the experience of Christian and Brathwaite. The Hurricanes batting depth will be light on early in the tournament, and coming up against one of the most dangerous batting sides in the competition, it’s hard to see them outscoring the Sixers. The Sixers consistency across the board with bat, ball and in the field is going to be too much for the Hurricanes to deal with. The Sixers won their last five games to finish BBL09, expect them to continue that form as they begin their title defence. Surprisingly they’re the outsiders, and they have won their past four games when they’re the underdogs. Excellent value at $2.