BBL|10: What Can We Expect Early In The season?
Cricket fans across Australia have enjoyed the appetiser of the Australia and India ODIs and T20s in recent weeks, but now they're ready for the main course.
The beginning of the test summer and the BBL is not just a main meal, it is a cricketing buffet for our indulgence.
On Thursday night, the Hurricanes and the Sixers begin the BBL, and the return of a summer staple to our TV screens will return some normality to the end of 2020.
The 'Power Surge', the 'X-Factor' and the 'Bash Boost' will see two powerplay overs taken in the second half of the innings, a player subbed out at the innings break and bonus points for being ahead of the game half way through the second innings.
But, seeing the Melbourne Stars and the Brisbane Heat face off in Canberra on Friday night and the Melbourne Renegades and the Perth Scorchers playing in Hobart on Saturday night, might appear even stranger than the new rule changes.
The challenges presented by COVID-19 have caused Cricket Australia to abandon the traditional home and away structure in favour of hubs, and it is making this season wildly unpredictable.
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All eight teams begin BBL10 in either Canberra or Tasmania, with success at Manuka Oval, Blundstone Arena and University of Tasmania Stadium crucial to a title winning campaign.
At Blundstone Arena, we can expect teams batting first to pile on the runs.
The average BBL batting first score at the venue is 168, but last season this average was 182 while in the previous three seasons it was 172.
In BBL09, the chasing teams struggled in Hobart, only winning one of five matches, and averaging a score of only 139.
It flipped the trend of BBL08, in which the chasing team won 5 out of 6 matches in that venue.
The inconsistency of this trend should not cause too much concern for teams, but it will be fascinating to see if it balances out in BBL10.
The Hobart Hurricanes have a brilliant opportunity to start the season strongly because they have won 10 of the last 15 matches at Blundstone Arena, despite only winning 2 out of 5 matches at the venue last season.
Three matches in Hobart and one in Launceston prior to Christmas give them a great opportunity to burst out of the blocks, but the match against the Adelaide Strikers in Launceston presents a significant hurdle.
The Hurricanes have only won 1 out of 5 matches at their adopted second home, including two losses to the Strikers in the previous two seasons.
Further north, the matches at Manuka Oval in Canberra will hope to correct a concerning trend from the previous two seasons.
Four matches were played there in BBL08 and BBL09 and they were all impacted by rain.
But, when the weather has been clear, it has traditionally been a batting-friendly venue, similar to the Adelaide Oval because of it’s flat pitch and long straight boundaries.
The Melbourne Stars play on consecutive days in Canberra to start their campaign, and their powerful batting should deliver high scores, while their spinners can look at the recent success of India’s slower bowlers at the venue for guidance.
Yuzvendra Chahal’s 3/25 (4) and Washington Sundar’s 0/16 (4) in the First T20I should provide a blueprint of how to restrict and force batters to hit to the long straight boundaries for the Stars’ spinning group of Adam Zampa, Zahir Khan, Clint Hinchcliffe and Glenn Maxwell.
Teams that successfully restricted the opposition to low totals and chased them down, have smaller average totals from last season, but, interestingly, the averages still demonstrate that the competition is quite even.
There are no major outliers or teams with a huge discrepancy between their runs scored and runs conceded.
However, early in the season we can expect the average totals to increase based on the average batting first and batting second scores at Manuka Oval and the average batting first score at Blundstone Arena being higher than all the teams average runs scored last season.
The Hurricanes, Strikers, Scorchers and Stars may have their averages impacted by their one match each in Launceston because the drop-in pitch has produced lower scores on average than the traditional cricket grounds.
In the two-week block of games leading into Christmas, the Hurricanes are in the box seat for a fast start with 4 consecutive home games, but the remaining teams playing at neutral venues, until the Brisbane Heat take on the Strikers at the Gabba on December 23, means it is truly anyone’s game.
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