SuperCoach BBL|08: the season in review
IT'S difficult at any given time to stare into the crystal ball and attempt to predict how the BBL|08 may unfold, but with hindsight on our side we've got to say that our SuperCoach experts were right on the money.
Many scoffed at the thought of the Melbourne Stars making it from cellar dwellers in BBL|07 to grand finalists in BBL|08.
The same could be said for our thoughts on Glenn Maxwell returning to be the "The Big Show", and we accurately predicted that spinners would rule the roost on pitches across the country.
Way back before the season begun, we had a crack at what we thought MIGHT happen this year … and to be honest we kinda think we did okay!
Predicting that the Stars would ride the lightning from last to first, we were looking good for our top tip when they were cruising at 0-93 against their cross-town rivals the Melbourne Renegades as the final came to a close.
Every Star fan knows what happened next, with disaster striking, panic setting in and the green team throwing the game away.
We predicted that if Stars were to rise, Glenn Maxwell would need to step up as a leader, and 'the Big Show' justified our faith to lead the way for the Stars when he was available and not representing Australia.
One ill-advised hoik in the final shouldn't count against him - overall it was a successful BBL|08 season for the experienced all-rounder, and any owner who had him would be happy to have him in their SuperCoach side.
That is, of course, when he was available - the international call-ups did indeed create some chaos, particularly at the conclusion of the season when Tom Curran had to leave the Sydney Sixers to hook up with the English touring side in the West Indies.
Injuries weren't too bad, certainly not as severe as expected, but undoubtedly the loss of James Faulkner for a couple of games at the end of the season upset the Hurricanes' delicate equilibrium.
As much as we tipped the Stars' rise, we thought the Strikers might tumble, albeit they did manage to avoid the wooden spoon thanks to a final match victory over the similarly hapless Perth Scorchers.
We thought veterans such as Max Klinger, Sydney Thunder's Callum Ferguson, Johan Botha at the Hurricanes, and Pete Siddle from the Strikers might be in for a bumper season, but only Ferg justified our faith in him as the veteran of the pack.
We also thought that Renegades' Will Sutherland might be the star teen, but instead it was Max Bryant from the Heat who looked part of the new Bash Brothers fraternity in Brisbane.
While we got our international man of mystery wrong, picking Scorchers' Usman Qadir would be the breakout player, at least we can console ourselves that we were correct that spinners would be the players to watch, with Sandeep Lamichhane (Stars), Mujeeb Ur Rahman (Brisbane Heat), Mohammad Nabi (Renegades), and Qais Ahmad (Hurricanes) staking their claim as future stars alongside the Strikers' second-year "veteran" Rashid Khan.
We also said that all-rounders might prove overrated. More on that below …
Top 10 all-rounders
Marcus Stoinis (Melbourne Stars) - BAT / BWL - 96.9 average points per game
D'Arcy Short (Hobart Hurricanes) - BAT / BWL - 91.3
Dan Christian (Melbourne Renegades) - BAT / BWL - 68.7
Matthew Wade (Hobart Hurricanes) - WKP / BAT - 65.1
Ben Cutting (Brisbane Heat) - BAT / BWL - 63.6
Nathan Coulter-Nile (Perth Scorchers) - BAT / BWL - 60.9
Glenn Maxwell (Melbourne Stars) - BAT / BWL - 60.8
Daniel Sams (Sydney Thunder) - BAT / BWL - 59.1
Jos Buttler (Sydney Thunder) - WKP / BAT - 57.4
James Faulkner (Hobart Hurricanes) - BAT / BWL - 54.0
It should come as no surprise to see Marcus Stoinis anchored at the top of this list. The Melbourne Stars all-rounder was outstanding, breaking the $300,000 price bracket in a show of incredible scoring power.
Similarly, BBL|07's leading SuperCoach scorer, D'Arcy Short, backed up an incredible season with an equally impressive one.
Perhaps the surprise packet of the lot was Matthew Wade, who put together a consistent season for the 'Canes. While ignored by Australian selectors, he was one of the highest owned in SuperCoach land.
Sadly, Nathan Coulter-Nile will most likely become a bowler-only option in SuperCoach BBL|09.
Top 5 batsmen
Usman Khawaja (Sydney Thunder) - 59.0 average points per game
James Vince (Sydney Sixers) - 48.5
Matthew Renshaw (Brisbane Heat) - 48.5
Callum Ferguson (Sydney Thunder) - 46.8
Max Bryant (Brisbane Heat) - 45.0
If you take away the all-rounders and purely digest the designated hitters, it was an underwhelming year for batsmen-only players in SuperCoach.
Usman Khawaja tops the average points per game list despite playing just one game in BBL|08, while Bash Brothers Chris Lynn and Brendon McCullum, the retiring Perth Scorcher Michael Klinger, and Thunder English import Joe Root all struggled for consistent output with the bat.
Once a dour opening Test batsman, Matt Renshaw transformed himself into a sizzling short-form player with both the bat and ball.
Renshaw was a surprise packet throughout the Big Bash season. The Heat threw him into the bowling attack and he even managed to open the bowling against the Scorchers before smacking sixes and fours in the same game.
Top 5 bowlers
Patrick Cummins (Sydney Thunder) - 84.0 average points per game
Qais Ahmad (Hobart Hurricanes) - 82.0
Kane Richardson (Melbourne Renegades) - 74.5
Tom Curran (Sydney Sixers) - 73.0
Rashid Khan (Adelaide Strikers) - 70.6
Reigning Alan Border Medalist Pat Cummins played only the one game in BBL|08 as his Thunder downed the Hurricanes in the final home-and-away game of the season. Similarly, Qais Ahmad was a late inclusion into the Hobart team as a replacement for injured Englishman Tymal Mills.
It took only three games, but Ahmad showed deft bowling and a high SuperCoach scoring output to suggest he'll be hot property in BBL|09.
Kane Richardson finished the season with the Renegades not only with a premiership medallion but as the leading wicket-taker, with 24 claims to his name this season.
Undoubtedly, the SuperCoach community will be hoping that Tom Curran gains DPP status if and when he returns for BBL|09.
He was terrific with the Sixers as a bowler-only option, proving to be a consistent performer.
What we'd like to see from a SuperCoach perspective in BBL|09
It would be unbelievable if all local players were available for the majority of the tournament - how good would it be to have every Australian star available? But just how pricey would some of them be in SuperCoach?
Big decisions would need to be made if you were to commit, say, $350,000 towards having Pat Cummins available as a Dual Position Player in your side.
Of course, it's a completely unrealistic expectation that all Australian players will be available. The international summer of cricket will have first Pakistan touring for two Tests and three T20s in November and early December, before New Zealand tour to take on Australia in three Tests (including the marquee Boxing Day match-up) and three ODIs.
After that there'll be three ODIs against India in January, and two Tests against Bangladesh in early February before the month finishes with three ODIs and three T20Is against South Africa. Busy, busy, busy.
Failing local internationals, can we have the best of the rest of the world?
Forget most England and South African players, with the latter hosting the former, but it would be wonderful for the competition if the BCCI allowed Indian players to be available outside the IPL and suiting up in the Big Bash - surely with the men's and women's T20 World Cups on in Australia in 2020 it would be a fantastic experience for both male and female Indian players to be available for the BBL as well as the WBBL tournament.
Speaking of which, can we get SuperCoach WBBL in WBBL|05? Ultimately, that's up to the fans and the bean-counters - if there's fan demand and sponsors want to jump on board, then it'll happen.