It’s the start of the ninth edition of the Big Bash League and the BBL09 season opener will see Brisbane Heat take on Sydney Thunder on Tuesday.
Heat are the second edition winners, but have reached only one semi-final other than that. Last edition saw the Heat finish a disappointing fifth.
The Thunder, meanwhile, have finished sixth for two consecutive seasons. Aside their only title win in the fifth season, the Thunder have never made it to the semis. With four eight-place finishes in eight seasons so far, the Thunder have been perennially underwhelming.
The Heat are without Brendon McCullum and coach Dan Vettori. However, with Chris Lynn at the helm, they are looking to start on a high under Darren Lehmann’s coaching. Lynn is coming off his best BBL season last year (385 runs, 4×50) and will once again be their lynchpin.
All eyes will be on England recruit Tom Banton, while Max Bryant is also going to be a huge presence for the Heat. However, all through the seasons Heat have been over-reliant on their top-order and a quick start in the powerplay overs.
The Thunder have been closer to the bottom of the standings in almost every season – bar the one when they won the title. Last season too they had picked up just 74 wickets and struggled to assert themselves. Unless they improve this season, it is going to be another long season for the Thunder.
There are quite a few players unavailable due to national duty or exodus – Pat Cummins, Jos Buttler, Shane Watson and Joe Root. However, the addition of Alex Hales and Chris Morris is a welcome change, considering the T20 skills that they bring to the table.
Brisbane Heat have traditionally been a top-heavy side and despite McCullum’s retirement, it is going to be the same this edition too. Lynn will be looking to lead the side from the front, while Banton’s presence is huge. However, the Thunder will look to make the most of Khawaja and Hales’ presence. This could be a game decided by the strong hitters, so watch out for the sixes.
History & Statistics
- Brisbane Heat have won seven of eight Big Bash matches against Sydney Thunder.
- Brisbane Heat have won all three H2Hs at The Gabba.
- Brisbane Heat’s average powerplay score last BBL was 51.
- Sydney Thunder’s average powerplay score last BBL was 47.
- Sydney Thunder have lost their last four matches against Brisbane Heat.
Tom Banton is already anointed the next Kevin Pietersen in the English circles. He made his international debut in New Zealand and looked at ease. Furthermore, he showed the aggressive side of his in the practice game before the tournament.
Usman Khawaja has long enjoyed being in Thunder’s colours. He averages nearly 50 playing for Thunder and will hope that his absence from the Test side will spur him on.