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Melbourne Renegades

HOME GROUND:

Etihad Stadium

SCHEDULE:

v Adelaide Strikers at Adelaide Oval (18/12)
v Perth Scorchers at Etihad Stadium (22/12)
v Sydney Thunder at ANZ Stadium (30/12)
v Sydney Sixers at Etihad Stadium (2/1)
v Melbourne Stars at MCG (7/1)
v Brisbane Heat at Etihad Stadium (12/1)
v Hobart Hurricanes at Blundstone Arena (18/1)

CAPTAIN:

Without looking at statistics, most would think Andrew McDonald isn’t the best genuine T20 player of all time. But when you crunch the 30-year-old’s numbers, it’s hard not to be surprised. McDonald has been very consistent for Victoria, Leicestershire and the Delhi Daredevils in his 68-game T20 career so far. He averages 35.22 with the bat, to go with his nine half-centuries and a highest score of 96 not out. McDonald has been just as effective with the ball, taking 65 wickets at 23.40, with best figures of 5-13. He is an excellent skipper selection for the Renegades and will certainly lead by example.

KEY BATSMAN:

Some consider Brad Hodge one of the unluckiest Australian cricketers of all-time. It’s amazing to think a man of his calibre has only played in 39 international matches across an 18-year career. But what the 36-year-old has been able to do is develop a huge reputation as one of the best domestic T20 batsman in the world – perhaps the best. Hodge’s numbers are incredible: 3690 runs, an average of 35.14, 24 half-centuries and two centuries. The right-handed opener has been in solid form for Victoria in List A cricket this summer, but expect him to step it up a gear come the start of the Big Bash League.

KEY BOWLER:

Dirk Nannes wasn’t born an oil painting, but he was certainly born a natural T20 bowler. The 35-year-old is one of the most successful T20 bowlers of all time, capturing 163 wickets, including a haul of five, from 129 matches at an average of 20.60. He has also represented Australia and the Netherlands at international level and has been a huge success, claiming 28 wickets from 17 matches. Nannes is fast, very fast, and pitches the ball in extremely difficult spots for batsman to hit. No wonder he was one of the Renegades’ early recruits.

WHERE WILL THEY FINISH?

Melbourne’s cross-town rivals, the Stars, may have all the attention and publicity. But the Renegades have the on field firepower to do some serious damage in the Big Bash League this summer.

The batting roster looks scary. Along with Hodge and McDonald, the Renegades have Aaron Finch, Shahid Afridi, Michael Hill, Glenn Maxwell and Nathan Reardon to choose from. Hodge, McDonald, Finch and Afridi are all world-class players and hit the ball hard and long. Opposition bowlers can’t afford to give the Renegades’ batsmen any width.

But perhaps the Renegades’ biggest asset is their bowling attack. They have two of the quickest bowlers in the world in Nannes and Shaun Tait, who have partnered together for the Australian T20 side in the past. Add Shane Harwood, the improving Jayde Herrick, plus McDonald, Afridi and the handy spin of Aaron Heal, and you’ve got a bwoling attack that will make teams very nervy.

The Renegades also have a very comfortable schedule as well. Their games are evenly spread across the entire campaign, meaning players will have significant time to recover from any niggles or minor injuries they pick up.

Above all, the Renegades have experience. A fair chunk of the roster played in Victoria’s four Big Bash titles, so there would already be a sense of camaraderie amongst the playing group.

Injuries, form slumps – a lot of things can go wrong in six weeks that can upset a team. But if things hold together nicely, the Renegades are red-hot favourites to win the inaugural Big Bash League.

BEST BETS:

Winner ($6.00 – Centrebet)

Most Tournament Runs – Brad Hodge ($4.00 – Sportsbet)