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)
Now probably isn’t the greatest time for Brad Haddin to have any extra pressure on his shoulders. The 34-year-old has been severely out of form in all forms of cricket at international level and his spot in the Test side is under siege. But Haddin could take the extra burden of being captain and turn it into a positive. If the aggressive batsman-wicketkeeper can lead his star-studded team into the finals, plus perform well individually under severe pressure, then the Australian public and media might forgive him for his poor run of recent form. It will be interesting to see where Haddin bats in the order, whether he opens or comes in down the order.
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, this tournament could be the best possible opportunity for the left-handed opener to announce himself to the national selectors.
Speaking of players on the tip of every Australian cricket fan’s lips, Patrick Cummins has been a constant topic of conversation over recent months. The 18-year-old made his Test debut against South Africa last month and took the cricket world by storm. Cummins took 6-79 in South Africa’s second innings, to help his team to a memorable victory away from home. However everyone has forgotten how good the fast bowler has been on the domestic T20 front in recent years. He’s already taken 23 wickets from 13 matches, including two four-wicket hauls, at an average of just under 15. This kid is the next big thing and if he stays fit during the tournament, we won’t stop talking about him.
The Sixers have a very unique roster in that, for once, a BBL team may actually have a stronger bowling attack than batting line-up.
The pace attack of Cummins, Brett Lee, Mitch Starc and Josh Hazlewood looks incredibly scary on paper. Add handy all-rounders such as Dwayne Bravo, Stephen O’Keefe, Steve Smith and Moises Henriques and you’ve got a bowling attack with plenty of depth and variety.
But maybe the playing roster is too heavily weighted towards bowlers and all-rounders.
Take nothing away from Cowan, Ben Rohrer, Dominic Thornley and Michael Lumb, who are all quality T20 batsmen. But the Sixers lack that sense of explosiveness , especially at the top of the order, that a number of other BBL teams have.
There will be plenty of pressure on the likes of Bravo, O’Keefe, Smith and Henriques to take control of games in the middle order if things get out of hand at the start of games. But if they can’t, it could leave a long tail quite exposed.
Of course we haven’t mentioned the Sixers have Shane Watson, the best T20 all-rounder in the world, at their disposal. But how many games he plays depends on his fitness and availability from the Australian side. The more games he plays, the more likely the Sixers will win.
The Sixers are a solid chance to go through to the finals, but whether they have the depth to make the final seems unlikely.
Most Tournament Runs – Ed Cowan ($5.50 – Sportingbet)