v Melbourne Stars at MCG (17/12)
v Adelaide Strikers at ANZ Stadium (23/12)
v Melbourne Renegades at ANZ Stadium (30/12)
v Hobart Hurricanes at Blundstone Arena (1/1)
v Sydney Sixers at ANZ Stadium (8/1)
v Perth Scorchers at ANZ Stadium (11/1)
v Brisbane Heat at ‘Gabba (17/1)
Everyone remembers the night when David Warner announced himself to the cricketing world. On international T20 debut, the left-handed opener blasted his way to 89 off 43 balls against a helpless and clueless South African bowling attack at the MCG. Since that night, Warner has become one of the most recognised T20 players in the world – and for good reason. The 25-year-old, who only stands 170 centimetres tall, has already scored 3233 runs from 114 matches, averaging 30.21. He’s scored 19 half-centuries and three centuries, including back-to-back hundreds in the T20 Champions League. And after scoring a memorable century for the Australian Test team, expect Warner to be raring to go for the Thunder’s first game against the Melbourne Stars.
Opening up the innings with Warner will be Chris Gayle, who is just as damaging and influential as his captain. With the aggression of Jimmy Barnes but the looks of Bob Marley, the 32-year-old is close to impossible to stop once he gets on a roll with the bat. Gayle was the first man to ever score an international T20 century, when he smashed against 117 off just 57 balls, including seven fours and ten sixes, against South Africa at the 2007 T20 World Cup. The left-hander has recently returned from Zimbabwe, where he played a T20 season with the Matabeleland Tuskers. From his six matches, Gayle averaged 59 with the bat, which included 109 not out, and took seven wickets, including a bag of four. He will be heavily relied upon at the top of the order.
How can any Australian cricket fan not love Doug Bollinger? The easy going personality, the ferocity with the ball, the passion for representing his country, the balding head – he just oozes charisma. Bollinger isn’t widely regarded for his work in T20, hence why he has only played two matches for Australia. But his domestic record is still very solid, capturing 61 wickets from 54 matches at an average of 23. The 30-year-old will be under immense pressure this summer though as he leads a very young and inexperienced attack. Hopefully Bollinger is ready to step up to the plate.
Sorry to say Sydney fans, but your side looks one of the weakest sides on paper in the whole Big Bash League.
There’s no doubting some of the talent they have up their sleeve, particularly at the top of the batting order. Warner and Gayle are perhaps the most lethal opening partnership in the competition, while an innings could be built around Usman Khawaja in the middle order. And of course there’s Bollinger with the ball.
But that’s about it. Very little depth in this Thunder squad.
Their frontline spinner will be Luke Doran, who has really only had one season to become accustomed to the domestic cricket scene. Gayle will of course help out with his off-spinners, but you can’t rely on him to keep the runs down at one end.
With Phillip Hughes recently pulling out of the Big Bash League, which in turn exposes even more younger players, it’s now very hard to see the Thunder pushing the top four.
Most Tournament Runs – David Warner ($3.50 – Sportsbet)