Big Bash League Season 4 Preview

December 15th 2014, 4:19pm, By: Mr.Cricket

Big Bash League Season 4 Preview

Big Bash League (BBL04) Preview

The Big Bash is back! 35 matches crammed into 42 days with the semis and final scheduled for the end of January in Canberra in what should be an exciting summer of cricket. It all gets under way this Thursday night with the Melbourne Stars and the Adelaide Strikers taking centre stage at the Adelaide Oval for the first match of the 2014/2015 Big Bash League.

The Big Bash is fantastic for betting and trading. We’ll be proving a preview of the season here, with some futures bets to sweat during the season, as well as weekly tips of all the matches. We’ll keep a rolling tally of results so you can keep us honest, but hopefully we can find plenty of profit for our followers. We’ll also be producing some articles on trading the Big Bash. T20 matches are fantastic for trading live, with huge swings in just about every game and great opportunity to make some money in live betting. More on that to come on Before You Bet so stay tuned.

Let’s take a look at the betting market for the outright winner before previewing each team.

Melbourne Stars - $4.50 at Sportsbet
Hobart Hurricanes - $7.00 at Sportingbet
Brisbane Heat - $7.50 at Sportingbet
Perth Scorchers - $8.00 at Sportingbet
Melbourne Renegades - $8.00 at Ladbrokes
Sydney Sixers - $9.00 at Betfair
Adelaide Strikers - $10.00 at Sportsbet
Sydney Thunder - $13.00 at Palmerbet

As is the norm for this time of the year, the Melbourne Stars are the warm favourites to win while the Sydney Thunder seem most likely to claim their fourth wooden spoon. So has anything changed from last year? Let’s start at the top.

Melbourne Stars - $4.50 at Sportsbet

The Stars again look the team to beat on paper. Last year they were undefeated in the preliminary rounds before the Hurricanes upset them in the semis. The Stars now have a history of choking in the semis, and they will be desperate to rectify that this year and grab the trophy that this squad probably deserves.

They do have some big losses from their squad of last year with Matthew Wade, Brad Hodge and Lasith Malinga all missing, with English bad boy Kevin Pietersen the new addition. Pietersen fills a batting hole, but they will miss Malinga’s match-winning brilliance with the ball. However they have incredible depth with Cameron White and Luke Wright lethal at the top of the order, Glenn Maxwell, James Faulkner, David Hussey and Marcus Stoinis capable of anything in the middle order, and Clint McKay, Jackson Bird, John Hastings and Michael Beer all with plenty of experience as the bowling attack.

Verdict: The Stars are the ones to beat once again this year with no obvious weaknesses and plenty of depth. The only issue is that it’s a very open competition so their price looks a tad short.

Hobart Hurricanes - $7.00 at Sportingbet

The Cane Train surprised everyone with an upset semi-final win last year against the undefeated Stars and then performed extremely well in the Champions League. That experience on a big stage will be invaluable to a young squad.

They’ve moved on a few players this season with imports Owais Shah and Shoaib Malik not part of this squad, and Aiden Blizzard heading to the Thunder, while the bowling attack, which was such a strength, has been hurt by the losses of Doug Bollinger and T20 specialist Ben Laughlin. However those losses have been offset by a couple of boom signings with English powerhouse batsman Alex Hales and West Indian all-rounder Darren Sammy. Two absolute proven match-winners. Englishman Tim Bresnan will also join the squad as a replacement international for Sammy in the second half of the season.

At their best, the batting looks strong, with Hales to be joined at the top by Ben Dunk who was the surprise Player of the Series last year and league leading run scorer. Opposition are more aware of Dunk now though, but he is in good touch, so should have another good series. Tim Paine, Travis Birt and George Bailey are all due for some runs as they form a solid middle order. With the ball, a lot will be left to Ben Hilfenhaus with the new ball, as the Hurricanes don’t have a lot of support in the pace department. It’s more likely the Hurricanes will go with the twin spin attack of Cameron Boyce and Xavier Doherty to do the damage.

Verdict: A talented list with some proven match winners and experience from the Champions league should see them reach the finals once again. They are possibly vulnerable with their fourth or fifth bowler.

Brisbane Heat - $7.50 at Sportingbet

A team that has always had the potential to beat anyone, and a former BBL champion, but last year the Heat missed the finals in what can only be considered a disappointing season.

They’ve made some interesting changes to their squad for 2014/2015. They’ve removed guys who were inconsistent (Luke Pomersbach, Craig Kieswetter) or not suited to T20 (Chris Hartley, Nathan Hauritz) and brought in players who are proven match winners. They have added the #1 ranked T20 bowler in the world in West Indian Samuel Badree, under-rated hard-hitting batsman Nathan Reardon and the man who has probably had the most hype pre-season in Englishman Andrew Flintoff. Can Flintoff wind back the clock and live up to the expectations? No doubt he’ll be dangerous with the ball and can contribute with the bat, but it’s a big ask to think he’ll be much more than a useful contributor.

Flintoff will join a quality squad that includes a dangerous batting line up of Joe Burns, Dan Christian, Chris Lynn and Ben Cutting. They have good all-rounders with Flintoff, Christian and Cutting supporting James Hopes, Alistair McDermott and Cameron Gannon. Daniel Vettori is also back to provide another world-class spin option.

One weakness appears to be with the keeper, losing Chris Hartley to hand the gloves to unproven Jimmy Peirson.

Verdict: A very dangerous team that could be a real smokey to go all the way. Some of their batsmen are ready to launch their careers to the next level, while they have plenty of options with the ball. Flintoff is just the icing on the cake.

Perth Scorchers - $8.00 at Sportingbet

A team we’ve written off many times in these columns over the years, but they’ve constantly proven us wrong. The Scorchers are gunning for four consecutive finals and back-to-back titles. Can they do it again?

They have a couple of huge outs at the top of the order with Craig Simmons accepting a lucrative deal to go to Adelaide while Simon Katich has retired. Opening batsmen are so crucial to this game, and they’ve lost both of theirs. With the Marsh brothers both set for international duties all summer, Perth really need to explore the depth of their batting.

They have picked up Michael Klinger who is one of the most consistent and underrated openers going around, while Englishman Michael Carberry will also come into the top order. Adam Voges will probably bat at three, while we’re looking to wicketkeeper-batsman Sam Whiteman to step up and have a breakout season. This guy is the national keeper in waiting when Brad Haddin retires. He can bat top four and is a quality cricketer. Ruling out the Marsh boys however, does reveal a real lack of depth with the bat as I just don’t rate Ashton Agar as a top five batsman.

The Scorchers are strong with the ball however with Jason Behrendorff proving to be a bowler of the future while Joel Paris is an emerging talent. They will support the experience of Nathan Coulter-Nile, import and T20 specialist Yasir Arafat and 43-year old Chinaman Brad Hogg who is skipping around for yet another season.

Verdict: Are we going to write the Scorchers off again? Probably. Will they prove us wrong? Maybe. Home ground advantage does seem significant for the Scorchers and they will their share of games, but they will rarely be at full strength which may expose their lack of batting depth.

Melbourne Renegades - $8.00 at Ladbrokes

A disappointing BBL03 for the Renegades, missing the finals after topping the table the season before. They have always relied so heavily on Aaron Finch at the top of the order, but international duties will again restrict the hard-hitting opener in the latter half of the series. They have recruited some help though with Callum Ferguson, Matthew Wade and West Indian Andre Russell adding some experience and depth to the batting. Dwayne Bravo also returns after starring in two games last year, with New Zealand tank Jesse Ryder the replacement when Bravo returns to the national team.

In the bowling department, they’ve lost Murali which will create an enormous hole, and this is an area where they look a little weak. Outside of James Pattinson, who is still on the comeback from injury, they will be looking to Nathan Rimmington and Aaron O’Brien to perform consistently, while leg spinner Fawad Ahmed is the X-factor.

Guys like Ben Rohrer, Tom Cooper and Ferguson need to perform at the levels they are capable of, otherwise there will be heavy reliance on Finch, Bravo and Russell who are proven match winners, but won’t be available for the whole season.

Verdict: At full strength, they are as good as any team going around, but in the latter half of the season without their three match winners, they may be very vulnerable with a weakened batting line up and limited bowling attack.

Sydney Sixers - $9.00 at Betfair

The Sixers performed very well last season, going down to the Scorchers in a rain-affected semi-final. They’ll be looking to get themselves back into the final and lift the trophy again, and we feel they have the squad to do it.

Steve Smith, Brad Haddin and Nathan Lyon look good on paper, but they are unlikely to play at all, while Josh Hazelwood and Mitchell Starc are also on the cusp of national selection. Fortunately they do have some talented players in their squad to cover. West Indian Dwayne Smith has been added to the squad while Ryan Carters comes in as backup with the gloves and is in good form with the bat. The losses from their BBL03 squad are minimal with mostly fringe players making way for the new recruits.

Michael Lumb is back to open the batting while we’ve always been a fan of the under-performing Nic Maddinson. We’ve always been keen for Maddinson to live up to his potential – perhaps this is his year? Jordan Silk and Ed Cowan come in as depth players and both are very talented, while all-rounders Moises Henriques and Sean Abbott are match winners.

Their bowling attack looks strong, even if Starc and Hazelwood are away. Brett Lee returns for another season, while Doug Bollinger and Trent Copeland have played at the highest level. Steve O’Keefe is also an experienced spin option.

Verdict: Teams may look good on paper, but if the national side rips their heart out, then you have to look to the depth of their squad as a whole. The Sixers tick the boxes. It’s not bad when Ed Cowan, Jordan Silk, Doug Bollinger, Steve O’Keefe and Trent Copeland aren’t in your first XI. A huge contender and the price looks the value of the season.

Adelaide Strikers - $10.00 at Sportsbet

A big change in personnel sees the Strikers look to avenge a bitterly disappointing season where they managed just two wins. Out of the side go imports Alex Hales and Shakib Al Hasan, along with first XI players Michael Klinger, Andrew McDonald, Callum Ferguson and Nathan Reardon.

The Strikers are also missing Phil Hughes after his tragic death, and they have an indefinite extension to seek a replacement.

That’s a massive hole in their squad, but they’ve done well to replace them with the likes of Brad Hodge, Craig Simmons and Ben Laughlin, while West Indian beast Kieren Pollard is back for BBL04.

The thing I like about the recruiting is that they have gone for T20 specialists. Simmons really won the Scorchers the title off his own bat last season with a couple of the best hundreds you’ll ever see in the Big Bash. Hodge is still capable of destroying an attack, while Laughlin is a specialist death bowler who has consistently performed well in this league with 14 wickets last season.

While those guys are certainly match winners, there isn’t a lot of support there if they are unable to perform with the bat. Wicketkeeper Tim Ludeman will probably open with Simmons and Hodge at three. If they are three-for-nothing early on, who is going to save them? Fortunately they won’t be affected by the national team, but there will be a heavy reliance on the top order.

They look solid with the ball with Laughlin joining the “Wild One” Shaun Tait, Kane Richardson and Chadd Sayers. The spin department looks a strength with Johan Botha leading the way with Jon Holland and young leggie Adam Zampa in support.

Verdict: A couple of gun recruits will win a few games, but if they don’t perform at the top of the order then they might be in some trouble.

Sydney Thunder - $13.00 at Palmerbet

Now with three wooden spoons in the trophy cabinet, the Thunder again come into the Big Bash League as the rank outsiders of the competition. However they do have a different look about them this year which should make them more competitive.

They have picked up gun recruit Jacques Kallis. He will add a lot of stability and experience, but at 39 years of age, and notably slow with the bat and in the field, will he be able to keep pace in this format?  Kallis will be joined by Andrew McDonald, Aiden Blizzard, Pat Cummins, Chris Hartley and Nathan Hauritz who are all quality players.

Moving on from the Thunder are the likes of David Warner, Michael Clarke and imports Tillakaratne Dilshan and Ajantha Mendis.

The Thunder will again rely heavily on its top order of Usman Khawaja and veteran Mike Hussey. Their recruiting has certainly added better depth to their batting, while a bowling attack of Cummins, Gurinder Sandhu and Dirk Nannes is certainly capable.

Verdict: Expect the Thunder to improve this season but their line up is still a mixed bag of lollies. If they can keep a core group together then they might climb up the ladder in future seasons, but while they might win more games than previous seasons, they look well short of a finals team.

Big Bash League Predictions

1st Melbourne Stars
2nd Hobart Hurricanes
3rd Brisbane Heat
4th Sydney Sixers
----
5th Perth Scorchers
6th Melbourne Renegades
7th Adelaide Strikers
8th Sydney Thunder

* Edited 18th December to account for late preseason team injuries and withdrawals from the Sydney Sixers

Futures Bets

Outright Winner

The Melbourne Stars look an impressive outfit and will be hard to beat but the value for us is with the Sydney Sixers who look equally threatening on paper but for twice the price.

Sydney Sixers to win - $9.00 at Betfair Edit: (no play)
Sydney Sixers to make the final - $4.25 at Sportingbet (2 units)
Sydney Sixers to make the semis - $2.15 at Luxbet (5 units)

Edited 18th December: The Sydney Sixers have endured some horrible luck in the days leading up to the Big Bash. Their key import Dwayne Smith has withdrawn for personal reasons for the second season in a row. Steve O'Keefe is also out for several weeks with a calf injury, while Trent Copeland is also out injured. That's a massive hole to fill. They have signed Riki Wessels, son of former Australia and South Africa captain Kepler Wessels, but it's still a huge loss.

Since we are able to currently LAY our Sixers to win overall bet on Betfair for a $0 loss right now, we're going to remove that bet as an official play. The other two plays will remain, but would suggest that confidence has been severely dented and you should consider laying off if you can get the right price.

Wooden Spoon

Added 17th December: Following the injury to Usman Khawaja for the season, we've added a futures bet on Sydney Thunder to win the wooden spoon. They should improve but the price following an injury to one of their best players is too tempting to pass up.

Sydney Thunder to win wooden spoon - $4.75 at Luxbet (3 units) 

Tournament Leading Run Scorer

We’re looking for guys who will bat in the top three and will play every game. We’re also looking for players who will play in the finals as they are usually included in this market. Luke Wright ($17) is our top pick based on price as he ticks all the boxes and has been awesome in the BBL is recent years. We’ll also continue our support for Nic Maddinson ($19) for one more season. Mike Hussey ($26) and Matthew Wade ($31) look good value but they may not play finals and for a roughy we’ll throw a dollar on Sam Whiteman ($101) who looks overs.

Luke Wright - $17 at Luxbet (1 unit)
Nic Maddinson - $19 at Luxbet  (0.5 units)
Mike Hussey - $26 at Sportsbet  (0.4 units)
Matthew Wade - $31 at Luxbet (0.4 units)
Sam Whiteman - $101 at Sportsbet (0.2 units)

There are some good markets around for leading run scorers for each team. We’re very keen on Ben Dunk at the Hurricanes. He should play every game, while Alex Hales and George Bailey probably won’t, while Tim Paine is out of form. Over in the West, we’re going to go with the theory that the Marsh boys won’t be available too often. That opens the door for the ultra-consistent Michael Klinger at the top of the order. A similar theory for Matthew Wade at the Renegades. Finch will be hard to beat, but if he fails, Wade will most likely play more games which could give him the edge. Looks good value. And finally, we’ll stick with Luke Wright at the Stars.

Ben Dunk most runs Hurricanes - $4.00 at Luxbet (5 units)
Michael Klinger most runs Scorchers - $4.50 at Luxbet (3 units)
Luke Wright most runs Stars - $4.50 at Luxbet (1 unit)
Matthew Wade most runs Renegades - $6.50 at Sportsbet (0.5 units)

Tournament Leading Wicket Taker

The leading wicket taker markets look a little tighter with not a lot of value around. We want proven wicket takers, while death bowlers also have a good chance of wickets.  Finals are also most likely included so keep that in mind. Jackson Bird ($17) is our top pick as someone primed to deliver wickets in a team that will most likely play two finals. BBL03 was a breakthrough season for Cameron Gannon ($23), and while he’s had some problems with his bowling action, his ability can’t be underestimated, while Jason Behrendorff is in great form and proven tough to handle in the West. Cameron Boyce ($29) looks an exciting leg-spinning prospect, while Patrick Cummins ($21) is unlikely to play finals but seems primed to get himself back into contention for national selection with a strong BBL. Best roughy is James Hopes at $81.

Jackson Bird - $17 at Sportingbet (1 unit)
Cameron Gannon - $23 at Luxbet (0.5 units)
Jason Behrendorff - $23 at Sportsbet (0.5 units)
Cameron Boyce - $29 at Luxbet (0.5 units)
Patrick Cummins - $21 at Sportsbet (0.4 units)
James Hopes - $81 at Luxbet (0.1 unit)

Added December 17th: Andrew Flintoff - $81 at Luxbet (0.1 unit)

A couple of team most wickets market jump out with Ben Laughlin the overall favourite to lead the competition. His overall price looked short, but happy to take him to lead the Strikers. As mentioned above, we’re also keen on Cameron Boyce at the Hurricanes and Jackson Bird at the Stars.

Ben Laughlin most wickets Strikers - $3.25 at Sportsbet (3 units)
Cameron Boyce most wickets Hurricanes - $4.25 at Luxbet (2 units)
Jackson Bird most wickets Stars - $4.25 at Ladbrokes (2 units)

That’s it!

Hopefully there’s a winner or two in there! We’ll have our preview of the 2nd Test match up on the site on Tuesday and our preview of Round 1 of the Big Bash League, including the best online promotions, for you on Wednesday. Stay tuned!

_ _ _ 

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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