After a month of intense battles, sixes onto stadium roofs, flying stumps, classic catches and controversial interviews…the Big Bash League | 05 Final is finally here.
Semi Finals Review
To be honest, the two semi finals were somewhat of a disappointment, no intense last over finishes, no super overs, but plenty of high class cricket. It was a solid performance by both the Thunder and the Stars, both chasing down their totals with ease to advance to Sunday’s final to be held at the MCG.
Hopefully, you had a good week with many popular players putting in standout performances. The big names all performed on the big stage with Usman Khawaja, Shane Watson, Andre Russell, Michael Klinger, Kevin Pietersen and Adil Rashid all pulling out solid scores. However, there was plenty of disappointment with others like Travis Head, Mahela Jayawardena, Tim Ludeman, Luke Wright and nearly all of the Scorchers lineup having below par weeks.
Hopefully you picked enough of the good performers to get you through the week.
BBL Final Preview
Big Bash League | 05 Final
Melbourne Stars v Sydney Thunder
6pm Sunday 24 January, MCG
The Melbourne Stars have put their finals hoodoo to rest and have finally achieved their first win BBL finals victory. Funnily enough, the same goes for the Thunder, both the Stars and the Thunder are coming off their first BBL finals victory and are set to face off at 6pm on Sunday evening. It will be a battle of the Hussey brothers who will be tossing the coin against one another, just to add to the excitement and tension of the match, it will be Michael Hussey’s last.
Farewell ‘Mr. Cricket’
We have seen many greats retire over the last few years. Now it’s time to say goodbye to a hardworking Aussie hero, a humble gentlemen and above all a man who gives his all for the team. It’s been a pleasure watching Michael Hussey rescue Australia time and time again with his immaculate technique and uncanny ability to get the job done.
Here’s a quick look back on his illustrious career:
Michael Edward Killeen Hussey: (aka Huss and Mr. Cricket)
79 Tests, 137 innings, 6235 hard earned runs at an average of 51.52 and a highest score of 195. Includes 19 centuries and 29 half centuries.
185 One Day Internationals, 157 innings, 5442 runs at an average of 48.15 and a highest score of 109 not out. Includes 3 centuries and 39 half centuries.
38 T20 Internationals, 30 innings, 721 runs at an average of 37.94 and a strike rate of 136.29.
Fastest player to 1000 test runs.
One Day International Player of the Year: 2006.
What a legend.
BBL Final Fantasy
Players to target
The hard thing with selecting a team for one game is that pretty much everyone will have the same players. So it’ll be the risk takers that climb the ladder and become overnight sensations in the fantasy world. Due to unlimited trades and a rather large budget, almost everyone will have the Watsons, Russells. Khawajas, Pietersens etc. Its the less popular players that will make you stand out from the rest. Here are a couple I think you should have a look at:
Five Players with a Point of Difference
Evan Gulbis ($51,300)
After a fantastic double game round where he has one of the Stars standout performers, Gulbis had a disappointing semi final scoring a big, fat, zero. He bowled one over which cost the stars 14 runs and didn’t get to bat in a easy run chase. He will be out to redeem himself in the final and might get a fair bat as the thunder have a dangerous bowling lineup and the stars batting is like a house of cards.
Michael Beer ($48,300)
Originally being from Victoria, Beer knows the MCG well and has had a solid BBL | 05 with the ball picking up regular wickets and tying up an end for the team. He usually opens the bowling but the stars wanted to reopen old wounds against the Scorchers and decided to utilise the swing available in overcast conditions. He might get a chance to open the bowling on Sunday. With an average of 30 across BBL | 05 Beer’s lowest score has been 28, however, he doesn’t go very high either with a highest score of 56. As I said, his consistency is his most solid asset.
Chris Green ($49,200)
Known affectionally to his teammates as the F.E.S (Female Engagement Strategy) Green has had his best BBL campaign picking up regular wickets for the thunder with his off spinners. Green is also handy with the bat but hasn’t had the chance to wield the willow as he bats down the order in an all star batting lineup. With a highest score of 77 and an average about 30, Green is a very consistent team player (similar to Michael Beer) and is coming off a fantastic score of 52 in the semi finals.
Fawad Ahmed ($46,500)
Victorian Bushranger Fawad Ahmed is another player who would know the MCG well and has had a satisfactory BBL to date. He has played all 9 matches for the thunder with an average score of 24 but a highest score of 72. Like any spin bowler, Ahmed has his days and could be the difference for your side to go shooting up the ranks this Sunday.
Gurinder Sandhu ($41,000)
After a terrible performance by second gamer McAndrew on Thursday, I’m expecting that Sandhu will get a recall for Sunday’s final. At a very cheap price tag he could slot nicely into the fifth bowler position and give you some extra budget to further strengthen your batting lineup. To be fair, Sandhu hasn’t had a very enjoyable BBL campaign but is a talented bowler and has pulled out a score of 52 already this season. Being dropped might just kickstart his motivation and he could come out roaring on Sunday with a bag of wickets and some newfound enthusiasm. If you do decide to pick him, make sure you watch the team announcements carefully to make sure he’s been selected.
Equally as important as picking the right players will be picking the right captain. A good captains selection could be vital in separating the many teams which will have almost identical lineups this weekend. There are no vice captain loopholes this time around, so go with your gut.
Here are my top 5:
- Usman Khawaja –
The most inform batsmen in Australia, coming off a century in the last game and another century against the Melbourne Stars in Round 1, he will be a popular choice.
- Michael Hussey –
I wouldn’t put it beyond Mr. Cricket to bow out of BBL in style with a MOTM performance on Sunday to win the Thunder their first BBL title.
- Kevin Pietersen –
The big Englishman loves to step up and perform in big games. He loves the pressure, and if anything, it makes him perform better. Coming off a half century in the semi final.
- Clint McKay –
The BBL | 05 leading wicket taker is back to face his old teammates in the Final and would love to pull out a good performance against the old mob. He is a genuine wicket taker and is ultra consistent.
- Andre Russell –
You just can’t have an article about captaincy options without Dre Russ. The competitions leading fantasy point getter is in contention for a big score every time he plays. Very hard to go wrong with him, will be a popular selection.
Honourable mentions: Shane Watson
Smokie: David Hussey- A BBL final against his older brother may bring out the best in David. Might be in for a rescue mission if the Stars top order crumbles against the strong bowling lineup of Russell, McKay, Watson and maybe even Kallis.
This is the final round of BBL | 05. It has been a great success for Cricket Australia with amazing crowds filling stadiums across the country. Hopefully, Cricket Australia overturn their decision to prohibit Chris Gayle from playing in the Big Bash and we see the big West Indian entertaining packed Aussie crowds again in the future.
It’s come down to the battle of the Hussey brothers in Michael’s farewell game. Hopefully the match lives up to all the hype and we have a cracking encounter. As a proud Melbournian and Melbourne Stars fan I hope the boys in dark green can pull it off and win their first BBL title but it will be difficult against a star studded Thunder lineup who are expecting J. Kallis to be fit to play on Sunday.
Good luck for your team selections and remember: there’s always next year!
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