BBL05 Fantasy Preview – Sydney Thunder

The Sydney Thunder have endured the worst BBL track record of the lot. However, last year they were lifted by the inspired captaincy of Michael Hussey, who helped them escape the clutches of the ‘wooden spoon’ for the first time. They will now be looking to build towards something special and with a rejuvenated roster for BBL|05, this could be the Thunder’s best chance yet at breaking into the top four and making a run for the premiership.

PLAYERS TO PICK
Jacques Kallis – $102,700:
Arguably the best all-rounder of BBL|04, I am tipping big things from Kallis again this year. The South African international is basically fantasy gold. Last year he opened the batting scoring 235 runs while also snaring 5 wickets with the ball and finished the season with an average of 58.4 fantasy points per round, resulting in his hefty $102,700 price tag.
Although Kallis is expensive, a player of his calibre is simply too hard to ignore. Also, with the Thunder having the double-game round first up, he would also be a smart choice as captain. Omit him at your own risk.

Fawad Ahmed – $53,500:
At this price, Ahmed is a steal. The wily leg-spinner has been on the cusp of Australian international selection for just about a year now and has proven his ability by finishing first on the Sheffield Shield’s leading wicket-takers list for 2014/15 with his 48 scalps.
Ahmed will be the Thunder’s frontline spinner this season after serving two seasons with the Melbourne Renegades. Barring international call-up or injury, Ahmed should play every game for the Thunder and don’t be surprised if he racks up a healthy tally of wickets along the way.

Shane Watson – $73,500:
It was a tough decision between Hussey and Watson, however now Watson has retired from Tests, he will be available for the majority of the BBL season for the Thunder. For virtually the same price as Hussey, I believe Watto will bring more to the table with his bowling adding another dimension to his Fantasy game. Watson was once the best all-rounder in T20I cricket and has been the highest paid Australian cricketer over the past few years due largely to his stint with the Rajasthan Royals in the IPL.
I expect Watto to open the batting with Kallis for the Thunder Nation and he will also chip in with a few overs here or there. At $73,500 he is a big investment but I am backing him to bring the goods this season.

PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Andre Russell – $88,900:
I am a little hesitant to pick up Andre Russell at this stage but he is definitely one to monitor as the season progresses. The big West Indian import claimed 4 wickets and 86 runs (at a strike rate of 187) in his four matches last season for the Renegades which is why he will cost you so much this time around.
It is a risky move to select him from the gun as he can be inconsistent at times, although when he is on song he provides that vital ‘X factor’ which many teams crave. I would advise sitting tight until we see what sort of form he’s in and where he bats in the order before potentially swooping in if his price drops.

Michael Hussey – $74,200:
Mr Cricket returns for his third and final season for the Sydney Thunder this summer. I’ve always been a big fan of selecting a balance between power-hitters and players who can anchor an innings when it comes to batsmen and Hussey definitely falls into the latter category.
Huss opened the batting with Kallis on a few occasions last year but may relinquish that position to Shane Watson, in which case he will likely slide naturally into the number 3 position. Hussey is fairly priced at $74,200 and will look to replicate his consistency from last season.

Gurinder Sandhu – $73,900:
Sandhu has been one of the BBL’s form bowlers over the past two seasons picking up 13 wickets for the Thunder. His deceptive bowling often comes with a tidy economy rate as well which means more fantasy points for his owners.
For me, he is not consistent enough to warrant spending $74k at this stage but I would definitely consider picking him up if his price tag drops below $65k. He may be worth a punt considering the Thunder have two games in the first round but I wouldn’t be surprised if his price drops off. Watch this space.

PLAYERS TO AVOID:
Patrick Cummins – $53,500
Patrick Cummins was a stalwart in my BBL|04 Fantasy side and usually I would be all over him at this price but he has been ruled out for this season with stress fractures in his back. Cummins succumbed to the injury after returning home from the ODI series in the UK earlier this year and was expected to be out for up to three months.

Usman Khawaja – $67,900
Uzzy was another player I was looking forward to selecting for my fantasy side and at $67,900 he is great value. However, after injuring his hamstring while fielding in New Zealand’s first innings at the WACA it is unclear how big a role he will play in BBL|05.


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