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)
He has fallen slightly out of favour with the national selectors in recent years, but James Hopes is still a huge threat for any opposition side at any level. The 33-year-old is a genuine all-rounder who can do a job with the bat, ball or in the field. Hopes hasn’t featured in an Australian side since October last year, so he’s had plenty of time to adjust to the domestic level. He hasn’t been in the best form of his life of late, however he did pick up a nice four-wicket haul against Victoria in a Ryobi One-Day Cup match against Victoria recently. Still, the Heat captain can’t be underestimated.
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, a remarkable achievement for a wicketkeeper. McCullum 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, because this Kiwi is about to take Australia by storm.
With dorky glasses and messy stubble, Daniel Vettori looks like he should be locked up in his own home playing World of Warcraft or Call of Duty all day. But looks are deceiving with this man as he is one of the smartest cricketers in the world. The 32-year-old is a master T20 spin bowler, varying his length, line, speed and spin with aplomb and tremendous success. Vettori isn’t a huge wicket-taker, but he has an incredible ability to keep the runs down. In T20 internationals, he concedes an extremely low average of 5.36 runs per over. The left-arm spinner is also a more than handy lower-order batsman and has dug his country out of trouble on numerous occasions with the bat. The Heat have struck gold by recruiting Vettori, the best T20 spin bowler in the world.
The first thing you think of when you look at Brisbane’s list is its tremendous balance across all platforms.
The Heat have some big hitters, none bigger than McCullum, Dan Christian and good old Matthew Hayden, who has come out of retirement to play in the competition. Add Hopes, the in-form Peter Forrest and rising star Chris Lynn and you’ve got an extremely solid foundation at the top of the order.
Brisbane’s bowling attack also looks mightily impressive on paper. Ryan Harris, Chris Swan and Christian are a formidable pace attack, while we all know the heights spinners Vettori and Nathan Hauritz have reached in the past. However they have lost rising star and exciting paceman Ben Cutting to a side strain for the majority, if not all, of the tournament.
Perhaps the biggest obstacle for the Heat though is availability. McCullum and Vettori will be needed for New Zealand matches, while Harris and Christian might be needed in the Australian test team. If that’s the case, they will be stretched for depth.
Nonetheless the Heat have a solid roster with a nice even spread of games. They are a very good chance to make the finals.
Most Tournament Runs – Matthew Hayden ($6.00 – Sportingbet)