The BBL is back and The Pinch Hitters couldn’t be happier to have cricket on the television each and every night of the summer. Week Two has delivered surprise results, match-winning performances with bat and ball and all the action we have become accustomed to from the world’s premier domestic T20 competition. With 13 games now completed, we now take a look at the Hits and Misses from a turbo-charged second week of BBL08.
1. Hurricanes leave everyone in their wake.
Hobart have left their Big Final defeat of last season behind them with a breathtaking start to this campaign. Three victories in the past week has seen them take top spot on the competition table with a perfect four from four record. It is a much quieter week ahead for the competition leaders with just one match against the Sixers which, based on current form, might be the only way to blow them off course.
2. Handscomb answers the selectors axe.
After being left out of the Australian team to face India in the Third Test, Peter Handscomb responded in the best way possible in a man of the match performance for the Melbourne Stars. Tasked with a tricky target, Handscomb was the rock of the Stars innings with his 70 off 35 the backbone of a successful chase.
3. Matthew Wade continues to press his claims.
The former Aussie keepers claims for a position in the national team as a specialist batsman continue to grow after a fast start to the BBL season. The leading run scorer in the Sheffield Shield this season, Wade has provided a powerful one-two punch at the top of the Hurricanes batting lineup with opening partner D’arcy Short. Third on the BBL run scorers list, with two fifties from the first four games, he has done little to harm his chances of convincing the selectors to give him another chance in national colours.
4. Young imports fire.
The impact T20 has had on world cricket is on full show with two young bowlers from Afghanistan and Nepal having a big impact on the BBL this year. While Rashid Khan is well known commodity, widely regarded as the best T20 bowler on the planet, the Melbourne Stars Sandeep Lamichhane has also announced himself as a player to watch in this years tournament. Not lacking for confidence, Lamichhane has released three singles in his native Nepal and has hit all the right notes for the Stars on field this year too. The leading wicket taker in the competition to date, the 18 year old looks set to bamboozle batters in the BBL for a long time to come.
1. No Game on Christmas Day.
We understand why the players would be reticent, but after gorging on Christmas ham and pudding, who else was ready to sit down in front of another BBL blockbuster on December 25? Sport on Christmas Day is a staple of American sport and, while that is not reason enough on its own, it is only a matter of time before one of the major sports in Australia moves a fixture to this day to the chagrin perhaps of my wife and many others out there.
2. Strikers get it horribly wrong.
Since silencing the Heat on the opening night of BBL08, the defending champs have seemed a little off the pace. Despite this, they would have been favourites to get the job done when the travelled west to face the winless Scorchers in Perth. On a difficult wicket, Alex Carey and Jake Weatherald saw the Strikers to 25 before the laters’ dismissal saw a collapse of mammoth proportions.
When Michael Nesser was trapped in front by Jhye Richardson for 1 the Strikers had lost their seventh wicket with just 21 more runs on the board than when Weatherald departed the crease. Some late order hitting from Cameron Valente and Rashid Khan ensured their team would avoid the ignominy of the competitions lowest ever score but 88 all out was more than embarrassing enough for a team attempting to claim back to back BBL titles.
3. Short’s telescopic dismissal.
It is hard to find fault with an opening batsman in the competition leading team who has scored more runs than any other batter in BBL08 but his dismissal against the Stars was a Christmas present come early for Scott Bolland. With a cross seam bouncer, the Stars quick enticed Short into a shot that he attempted to bail out of as the ball became big on him. Unfortunately for the big-hitting Hurricane, he didn’t completely pull out of the shot leaving his bat like a periscope in the air. The rising delivery struck the bat on the way through to Ben Dunk who completed the unusual dismissal with glee.
4. Renegades crash back to earth.
Undefeated and having kept the Sixers to a meagre 132 it appeared like the stars were aligned for the Renegades to extend their winning streak at Marvel Stadium. Mackenzie Harvey got the chase off to a rollicking chase with 30 off 25 balls but when he fell in the eighth over, the air evaporated from the Renegades innings. With Steve O’Keeffe and debutant Ben Manenti seemingly turning the ball at right angles, the Renegades were only able to manage a disappointing 9/99 from their allotted overs. Rather than stake a claim for the competitions lead, the Renegades now find themselves back in the pack.