SCG at 7.00pm – Friday 16 December
v Brisbane Heat at SCG (16/12)
v Hobart Hurricanes at Blundstone Arena (21/12)
v Melbourne Stars at SCG (27/12)
v Melbourne Renegades at Etihad Stadium (2/1)
v Sydney Thunder at ANZ Stadium (8/1)
v Adelaide Strikers at Adelaide Oval (10/1)
v Perth Scorchers at SCG (18/1)
v Sydney Sixers at SCG (16/12)
v Melbourne Stars at Gabba (20/12)
v Perth Scorchers at WACA (29/12)
v Adelaide Strikers at Gabba (3/1)
v Hobart Hurricanes at Gabba (6/1)
v Melbourne Renegades at Etihad Stadium (12/1)
v Sydney Thunder at Gabba (17/1)
The name Ed Cowan is starting to become more known throughout the Australian cricket family. The 29-year-old is making a serious push for national selection after an outstanding start to the 2011-12 domestic season. Cowan has scored a century in each of his past three First Class matches and recently scored 91 not out in a Ryobi One-Day Cup game against South Australian in Burnie. With Phillip Hughes out of form and not playing in the BBL, as well as Shane Watson absent from tonight’s game, this tournament could be the best possible opportunity for the left-handed opener to announce himself to the national selectors.
The Heat have found gold by recruiting New Zealand’s Brendon McCullum. The 30-year-old is one of the best T20 batsmen in the world and holds the record for the most number of international T20 sixes with 51 from 42 matches. For the record, he’s scored 1245 runs at an average of 36.61 and a strike rate of 132.44, with a high score of 116. But McCullum’s numbers at domestic level are just as freaky, hitting 17 half-centuries and three centuries, which includes that memorable knock of 158 not out in the Indian Premier League. Watch out if McCullum finds the middle of the bat early, because he’ll thrive at the SCG where the boundaries aren’t huge.
1. Ed Cowan
2. Nic Maddinson
3. Michael Lumb
4. Brad Haddin (C/WK)
5. Moises Henriques
6. Dwayne Bravo
7. Steven Smith
8. Brett Lee
9. Mitchell Starc
10. Josh Hazlewood
11. Stuart MacGill
1. Matthew Hayden
2. Brendon McCullum
3. Chris Lynn
4. Peter Forrest
5. Dan Christian
6. James Hopes (C)
7. Chris Hartley (WK)
8. Nathan Hauritz
9. Alistair McDermott
10. Chris Swan
11. Matthew Gale/Nick Buchanan
What a way to kick off the inaugural season of the T20 Big Bash League with these two fine teams at the glorious SCG.
It will be interesting to see the Heat’s opening combination of McCullum and Matthew Hayden tonight. We all know about McCullum’s T20 stardom and how devastating he can be, but how will the big Australian left-hander cope? Hayden has been out of the game for a while, so the question is how long will it take him to rediscover his scintillating form?
Speaking of men who have been out of the game for a while, Stuart MacGill will line-up for the Sydney Sixers tonight. The 40-year-old hasn’t played competitive cricket since 2008 and could be quite rusty. Not to mention the fact that MacGill is one of the most aggressive spinners ever seen. He might pick up a few wickets, but is sure to go for a few runs, something you can’t afford in T20 cricket.
As mentioned earlier, the Sixers will be without Watson, the best T20 player in the world, due to injury. They’ll also miss the presence of teenage paceman sensation Pat Cummins, who has a foot problem.
However the bigger injury blows are over in the Brisbane camp, especially in its bowling stocks. Star spinning import Daniel Vettori won’t be risked so soon after suffering an injury during New Zealand’s test series against Australia. Also rising star Ben Cutting won’t play due to a nagging side strain, while Ryan Harris is still out with a hip injury.
At full strength, you’d probably think the Heat would win this one. But you need your best bowlers out on the field and in form if you want a victory. And the Heat don’t have that.
If Cowan and Haddin can hold their own and get some quick runs at the top of the order, ably supported by classy all-rounders in the lower order, then the Sixers should win this one. Their bowling attack looks much more potent and the home ground advantage will help.
Sydney Sixers to win ($2.00 – Sportingbet)
Ed Cowan Sixers High Bat ($5.00 – Sportingbet)
Matthew Hayden Heat High Bat ($5.00 – Sportsbet)