Friday, December 11

Melbourne Stars vs Brisbane Heat
Maxwell Stars Top Runscorer ($4.25)

The Stars and the Heat launch their respective BBL10 campaigns in Canberra this evening and perhaps unsurprisingly, the home side are favourites to win.

Despite always having a talent-rich side at their disposal, the Stars are one of just two teams yet to win a Big Bash title, and they squandered another great opportunity in last season’s decider against the Sydney Sixers.

They’ve bolstered their squad with plenty of talented players again this season, but there is little doubt that the lion’s share of attention and pressure is on the shoulders of Captain Glenn Maxwell.

Maxwell struggled through the recent IPL season, but returned to devasting form for Australia in their limited over series with India, and will take plenty of confidence into this season, but particularly this match.

The Heat have assembled another interesting side, headlined of course by their own big-hitting captain, Chris Lynn.

Morne Morkel is their big addition for BBL10, and the veteran South African is sure to bring plenty of spark to what has been something of a struggling bowling unit in recent seasons.

At publish, the Stars are clear $1.67 favourites to defeat the Heat ($2.20), and while I do think they’ll win, that quote is too short for me.

I’m instead digging deeper into the markets, and I’m going to back Maxwell to continue his slick run of form through this game.

Thursday, December 10

Hobart Hurricanes vs Sydney Sixers
Short Hurricanes Top Runscorer ($3.75)

BBL 10 is underway with a bang on Thursday night when the ever-dangerous Hobart Hurricanes host the reigning Big Bash champions, the Sydney Sixers!

As always, both sides have signed new players and carried plenty over from BBL 9, and each will be both eager and confident to begin the new campaign on the right foot.

For the Hurricanes, the loss of Jofra Archer and Qais Ahmad will likely be telling throughout the entire season, while the late withdrawal of Tom Curran is a noticeable hit for the Sixers, as is the unavailability of both Steve Smith and Josh Hazlewood.

The Sixers have bolstered their squad extremely well, however, and the additions of West Indians Carlos Braithwaite and Jason Holder (3 matches) will surely prove priceless.

Though there is a genuine case to be built for both sides, the Hurricanes’ extremely dangerous batting line-up looks likely to be the difference in Game 1 of BBL10, and I’m expecting a particularly bold showing from D’Arcy Short.

Short’s incredible skill in the game’s shortest format has been well documented in recent seasons, and he’s sure to prove a handful for each and every opponent this campaign.

BBL 9 Final (Saturday February 8)

Sydney Sixers vs Melbourne Stars (7:15pm AEDT)
Sixers to Win ($2)

We’ve arrived at the final day of the BBL season and it is fair to say that the cricket gods were smiling at Thursday’s Challenger, because we’ll be treated to the Sydney Sixers against the Melbourne Stars – a top of the table clash to decide who reigns supreme.

The Sixers were good enough throughout the regular season to enter the finals as the second ranked side, but they have undoubtedly kicked up a gear in recent weeks and certainly in Sydney, are the team to beat. Stars like Smith, Lyon and Hazlewood returning to the fold has clearly had the desired effect and for mine, they should be sole favourites in match betting.

The Stars’ early season form really did set the benchmark for the competition and fittingly, they ended the round robin period of the tournament at the top of the table. They worryingly dropped four games in a row, however, but atoned with a comfortable win over the Thunder to gain passage into this. Their big hitters are obviously the key to their success and all eyes will surely be on Marcus Stoinis. If he is dismissed early, they surely face too great a task.

We managed to get a lovely multi over the line of Thursday, to the tune of $11.90, and I’m confident in the selections below for Saturday night’s BBL 9 Final.

The Challenger (Thursday, February 6)

Melbourne Stars vs Sydney Thunder (7:10pm AEDT)
Stars to Win ($1.80)

The penultimate match of BBL 9 will be played out between the Melbourne Stars and Sydney Thunder at the MCG on Thursday night, with the winner to progress into Saturday night’s decider against the Sydney Sixers.

The Stars have been the league’s benchmark all season. Particularly early on, they were winning for fun and rightfully, ended the regular season first in overall standings. There recent form, however, has been terrible and they enter this match off the back of four-consecutive losses. Obviously, they need to win this, or their terrible post season record will be built on and they will be out of the running again.

The Thunder were reasonably inconsistent throughout the regular season but have found form at the right end are take all the momentum into this. A dominant win over the Hobart Hurricanes was franked with another smart performance and win over the Strikers in Adelaide, and they will be quietly confident of repeating that effort and result here.

If they cricket gods are smiling, the Stars will walk out of this one and into the final. With everything on the line, I think their Stars (pun intended) will stand up to be counted.

The Knockout (Saturday, February 1)

Adelaide Strikers vs Sydney Thunder (7:40pm AEDT)
Strikers to Win & Khan 2+ Wickets ($2.60)

The Adelaide Strikers and Sydney Thunder will meet in BBL 9’s third final on Saturday night, with the winner progressing to a one in three chance of championship glory and the loser sent packing for another year.

The Strikers have returned plenty of quality performances this campaign and enter the BBL finals off the back of a pleasing 8-5 regular season. They did drop their most recent match to the desperate Hurricanes but won four in succession ahead of that and their best form would find them extremely difficult to beat here.

The Thunder were given little hope of beating the Canes in Hobart but proved far too good and will take plenty of confidence and momentum into this. Alex Hales, Usman Khawaja and captain Callum Ferguson remain the key to their success. If all three stand up, they can win through to the final three.

Qualifying Final (Friday, January 31)

Melbourne Stars vs Sydney Sixers (7:10pm AEDT)
Sixers to Win ($1.91)

This is the one we’ve all been waiting for. The top of the table clash between the Melbourne Stars and Sydney Sixers, with the winner to progress straight into the BBL 9 decider on Saturday week.

It’s been a largely outstanding season for the Stars, who really have been the league benchmark since Week 1. Worryingly, however, they have lost three matches in succession leading into this, including one to the in-form Sixers. Nothing short of a sharp turnaround in form will be required for them to win this but given the talent they have at their disposal, there is every chance they will do it.

The Sixers returned plenty of pleasing efforts to finish the regular season with a 9-4 record but have probably found their best form at the perfect moment. The inclusion of names like Nathan Lyon and Steve Smith have clearly had an enormous impact on the ethos of this side, and a repeat of any of their recent performances would find them extremely difficult to beat again.

4th vs 5th (Thursday, January 30)

Hobart Hurricanes vs Sydney Thunder (7:40pm AEDT)
Hurricanes to Win & Sams 1+ Wicket ($2.37)

The regular season is done and dusted and the finals for BBL 9 will begin in the Apple Isle on Thursday night, when the Hurricanes host the Thunder.

Against all odds, the Hurricanes, who were staring down the barrel of the wooden spoon no more than two weeks ago, have absolutely stormed home and finished fourth – ultimately setting up this home final against the shaky Thunder. Three wins in succession, capped by a ten-run win over the in-form Strikers has clearly filled their sails with wind, and they will be extremely difficult to beat at Bellerive Oval.

The Thunder will take winning form into this match after seeing off the Scorchers on Duckworth Lewis on Sunday, but they lost two on the bounce prior to that, including one at the hands of the Hurricanes. They would need to improve noticeably to be winning this.

Saturday, January 25

Sydney Sixers vs Melbourne Renegades (2:40pm AEDT)
Sixers to Win & Lyon 1+ Wicket ($2)

The Sydney Sixers are understandably resounding favourites to beat the last-placed Renegades at home this afternoon.

The Sixers have found another gear at almost the perfect point of the season and will be eager to tune up for the finals with another good hit-out and win over the Renegades. They never looked troubled in Thursday night’s easy win in Brisbane and it’s tough imagining a different result materialising in Sydney this afternoon.

The end of the season has almost arrived for the struggling Renegades and nothing more than pride is on the line for them today. To their credit, they have won two of their last three, but they probably face too great of a task in the Sixers.

Melbourne Stars vs Brisbane Heat (7:10pm AEDT)
Stars to Win ($1.80)

The Melbourne Stars have slipped into a worrying form slump, but they’re faced with a terrific opportunity to bounce back into winning form at the expense of the Brisbane Heat tonight.

Following a near faultless campaign, the Stars appear to have run out of puff right in time for the finals; suffering defeats to the Strikers and Sixers at their two most recent appearances. What’s particularly damning is those two opponents are probably their biggest threat in BBL 9 and they’ll need to quickly find their previous form, if they aren’t to bottle their chances yet again this season.

The Heat looked like a side building towards a serious finals tilt, but the wheels have almost completely fallen off and they’ve lost four of their last five, including three in succession leading into this. I think winning this is now a bridge too far for them.

Friday, January 24

Hobart Hurricanes vs Sydney Thunder (6:10pm AEDT)
Daniel Sams 2+ Wickets ($2.70)

Fresh off a season-saving win, the Hurricanes return home and are offered another good opportunity to keep the campaign alive when they line up opposite the Sydney Thunder.

Its largely been a season to forget for the Canes, but a rare win over the Melbourne Renegades on Tuesday means that they are still a mathematical chance of finishing the regular season in the top five, albeit extremely slim. Nothing short of a win here will be necessary.

The Thunder have mixed their form quite a bit since the beginning of the year and have lost two of their last three. There is no doubt that this match looms as a far better opportunity for them than their last-start hit-out in Perth, but it’s still going to be tough. I’m staying away from head-to-head betting, as a result.

Perth Scorchers vs Adelaide Strikers (9:10pm AEDT)
Strikers to Win ($2)

The match of the day will take place in the nation’s west tonight and a key meeting between the third-placed Adelaide Strikers and fourth-placed Perth Scorchers.

The Scorchers’ slow start to the season is well and truly in the rear-view mirror and they now loom as a typically dangerous force in BBL 9. An easy win over the Thunder on Tuesday puts them in good stead to make it two in a row, particularly in returning home.

The Strikers have bounced back into form following a midseason slump and they look to be a legitimate title contender in their own right. A win here would go a long way towards locking in a spot in the top three.