THE New Year is here, and that means we are closing in on crunch time in the Big Bash League. The next set of games will be pivotal in determining the eventual top four, so here are the pick.
Hobart Hurricanes vs Brisbane Heat (Saturday, January 1, 4pm)
It’ll be high stakes BBL action on New Years Day when the Hobart Hurricanes take on the Brisbane Heat. Both teams are through half of their season and sitting well in finals contention, with the Hurricanes third on 17 points and the Heat fifth on ten.
The Adelaide Strikers and Melbourne Stars behind the Heat are still well and truly in the race though and with plenty of cricket left in the season, this is a game where every run could be crucial in the grand scheme of the net run rate battle for the finals.
The Hurricanes record of four and three has been kicked into gear by Ben McDermott in recent times. The experienced domestic option has hit two centuries back-to-back and is in incredible form, while D’Arcy Short has also found touch, going past 200 runs for the tournament. Given the Hurricanes key struggle earlier in the tournament was their batting, the run from the duo, as well as the ongoing threat of Matthew Wade now provides them with a batting line up to rival any other in the competition.
That said, the Brisbane Heat bowling attack has been in fine form, with James Bazley and Mark Steketee taking 11 and 9 wickets for the tournament respectively. That, however, won’t overly help when they are going at almost eight runs per over, with Xavier Bartlett going for almost nine.
Against an in-form batting line up, that means it comes down to the Heat’s batsmen to find form, and while Ben Duckett and Sam Heazlett have scored 213 and 204 runs respectively, they haven’t done it quickly enough to suggest they’ll be able to content with whatever score the Hurricanes post.
Hobart to win this one.
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Melbourne Stars vs Perth Scorchers (Sunday, January 2, 3:30pm)
This was due to be the second game between these sides in the space of four days, however, Thursday night’s clash was postponed due to a positive COVID case.
The Scorchers finally dropped their first game a handful of days ago against the Sydney Thunder and will be desperate to turn it back around. The fact stands that conceding 200 should be a rarity rather than the regular given the way AJ Tye (11 wickets), Ashton Agar (10 wickets), Jason Behrendorff (9 wickets) and Matthew Kelly (8 wickets) have been able to stear the bowling attack around the field.
That’s not saying it’s the be all and end all, but opposition teams have found it extremely tough to score against the men in orange, but the Stars have slowly been coming into form with the bat. Following that disastrous start to the tournament where the Sixers rolled them for 61, they have found a score north of 150 more than they haven’t, capped by scoring 207 against the Brisbane Heat on Monday.
Hilton Cartwright and the dangerous Glenn Maxwell have led the way, while Harris Rauf is set to return and lead the bowling attack for this clash in what will be a major boost for the men in green.
Whether that’ll be enough to take down a fired up Scorchers bowling attack, who have been backed up with the bat by Colin Munro (268 runs) and Mitchell Marsh (255 runs) is yet to be seen, but it would take a brave man to back the Scorchers to lose twice in a row.