December 24: Hobart Hurricanes v Melbourne Renegades in Hobart
Our XI: D’Arcy Short, James Faulkner, Qais Ahmad, Riley Meredith, Caleb Jewell, Aaron Finch, Shaun Marsh, Kane Richardson, Sam Harper, Dan Christian, Harry Gurney
NOTE: We might not always be able to tip you off about a late injury (or other relevant) updates
Captain: Shaun Marsh
Marsh has been in good form in the BBL, with 55 and 42 in his two matches so far. He’s come into the BBL on the back of a good run in first-class cricket too. Importantly, he bats in the top order, and thus has the maximum opportunity to make a big score.
Vice-captain: D’Arcy Short
He’s had one success and one failure, but when he gets going, Short can have a huge impact. He’s had considerable success in the BBL historically, and opening the batting gives him the chance to bat long too. Don’t discount his handy left-arm wristspin either, which has often proved to be a partnership breaker. Plus, having Short as vice-captain helps you hedge the risks: the captain’s from one team, the vice-captain’s from another.
At a venue that hasn’t seen too many outrageously large scores, Kane Richardson’s variations and nous make him a must-have in any team. He’s consistently been among the foremost exponents with the new ball and at the death, and can generally be relied on to not just get wickets, but also keep a healthy economy rate.
Only 19, but he’s already setting tongues wagging. Qais Ahmad’s legspin have proved a handful for any batsman coming up against him, as a T20 career economy rate of 6.87 shows. He’s also made a habit of picking up wickets in a bunch, and already has five in two games. A must-have.
One of the most exciting pacers in Australia right now, Riley Meredith has been on a hot streak. He’s begun the BBL in terrific form, and you don’t want him out of your XI and picking up a stack of wickets.
Sam Harper: Wicketkeeper-batsmen are valuable commodities. When you have one like Sam Harper, who is scoring at a strike-rate of 174.19 in the BBL so far, and who bats at the top of the order, he’s a straight value pick.
Caleb Jewell: He’s not quite hit his straps yet, which is why he qualifies as a value pick. Flying under the radar means there might not be too many who pick him; imagine the bonus if he scores well. Again, he’s an opener, so he has the opportunity to score.
Point to note
The scores at this venue in the past year in T20 matches suggest a total in the region of 160 is a par one. That means there is something for the bowlers, and it’s not a flat, batting beauty. Picking the right bowlers then becomes paramount, because there is a degree of confidence that good bowlers will get wickets and/or keep the runs down. Conversely, top order batsmen are more likely to make runs because it might be the kind of pitch that requires a small settling-in window.