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Melbourne Stars hold early Big Bash League favouritism

Sun, Dec 4, 9:00am by Jake Equid

The 2016-17 Big Bash League commences on Tuesday the 20th of December with a Sydney derby between the Sydney Thunder and the Sydney Sixers at Spotless Stadium.

Each team will play a total of eight matches before the top four teams enter elimination semi-finals (1 vs 4, 2 vs 3), after which the winners will progress to the final on Saturday the 28th of January, 2017. All matches will be broadcast live on free-to-air by Network Ten.

All the clubs have now finalised their squads, making use of the $1.4 million salary cap to the best of their ability. The betting market points towards an extremely competitive season with several teams given a chance.

Last season’s runners-up, the Melbourne Stars are $5 favourites to win their first ever title after confirming that David Hussey will carry on as skipper this season.

The 39-year-old says he has unfinished business, after losing last year’s final to the Sydney Thunder. With the most stable list in the competition, there’s been little news out of the MCG-based club this off-season.

Overseas player Kevin Pieterson is second favourite at $9 to be the league’s top runscorer and compatriot Luke Wright is also among the favourites at $15.

Melbourne’s other club, the Renegades are on the second line of betting at $6.50 after signing one of the best T20 bowlers in the world, West Indian spinner, Sunil Narine.

Narine, the ninth-ranked Twenty20 bowler on the International Cricket Council charts, will return for his second stint in the tournament, having played five matches for the Sydney Sixers in BBL|02. Narine is second favourite at $10 for most tournament wickets.

Unfortunately, not just for Renegades supporters but for the whole league, one of the biggest hitters and characters of world cricket, West Indian Chris Gayle will not play for the Melbourne club this season.

The most successful team in the BBL, the Perth Scorchers are also given a big chance of winning their third title at $6.50 after having a very productive off-season.

After losing last season’s semi-final to the Stars, the Scorchers went on a recruting campaign that yielded perhaps the best Australian fast bowler in the past decade, Mitchell Johnson ($21 for most wickets) to the club.

Joining him is a man who’ll be happy that Johnson is now a teammate, Englishman Ian Bell. The third key signing for the team from the West came with 24-year-old all-rounder Hilton Cartwright, who was also named last week in the Australian ODI team and could be a real X-factor for the team this season.

The reigning premiers, Sydney Thunder are next at $7 to make it back-to-back titles but it will be tough given they have lost several key players including last season’s captain Mike Hussey.

Joining Hussey in retirement is one of the best all-rounders of all time, Jacques Kallis. Shane Watson will captain the side this season. Usman Khuwaja will have a smaller role to play now that he is a permanent fixture in the Australian Test XI.

The Thunder’s cross-town rivals, the Sixers, finished with the wooden spoon last season, registering only two wins for the campaign but after an extremely active off-season they are not without hope this time around at $8.

The Sixers have two new international signings this year with explosive young openers Jason Roy and Sam Billings coming on board. The latter of which served as Brad Haddin’s understudy early in 2016 at the Pakistan Super League.

Joining the pair of English openers in the magenta this summer will be fast bowler Joe Mennie ($67 for most wickets) who made his Test debut for Australia last month in Hobart.

Last season’s minor premiers, the Adelaide Strikers are at $8 to win their first title. They were easily brushed aside by an Usman Khawaja-led Sydney Thunder in their semi-final at the Adelaide Oval and it’s been a long off-season for the club, contemplating what could have been.

A rejuvenated Kieron Pollard will be back for the Strikers this summer, news that is sure to warm the hearts of Adelaide fans as the club looks to improve on back-to-back semi-final appearances.

At $9, the Hobart Hurricanes will be hoping to improve on their poor showing last season and have enlisted the help of one of Australia’s most disliked cricketers, English fast bowler, Stuart Broad to help them achieve that. Broad is $26 to be the tournament’s highest wicket taker.

The other overseas player will be Kumar Sangakkara who’s back in the apple isle for his second season. He’s good value at $18 to top the league’s most runs column.

The team given the least hope from the bookmakers is the Brisbane Heat at $10 which is interesting given the talent they have in the squad. The Heat won only three games last season but it wasn’t any fault of their skipper Chris Lynn.

Lynn was named player of the tournament after scoring 378 runs off just 218 deliveries (a strike rate of 173.4), with 23 fours and 27 sixes in total. He’s at $8 to score the most runs this year and he’ll be joined by Marnus Labuschagne who was named the domestic ODI cup player of the tournament in October.

The Heat clearly have the batting firepower so if they can bowl and field well then they could surprise a few this season.

Suggested Bet: Melbourne Stars to win. $5

Sportsbet Market:

Big Bash Title

Melbourne Stars $5.00

Perth Scorchers $6.50

Melbourne Renegades $6.50

Sydney Thunder $7.00

Sydney Sixers $8.00

Adelaide Strikers $8.00

Hobart Hurricanes $9.00

Brisbane Heat $10.00

Top Tournament Runscorer

Chris Lynn $8.00

Kevin Pietersen $9.00

Shane Watson $10.00

Brendon McCullum $13.00

Cameron White $13.00

Luke Wright $15.00

Michael Klinger $15.00

Jake Weatherald $18.00

Marcus Harris $18.00

Kumar Sangakkara $18.00

Nic Maddinson $21.00

Marcus Stoinis $21.00

Daniel Hughes $21.00

Usman Khawaja $21.00

Travis Head $21.00

Moises Henriques $26.00

Ian Bell $26.00

Shaun Marsh $26.00

Tim Ludeman $26.00

Aiden Blizzard $31.00

Aaron Finch $31.00

Tim Paine $31.00

James Pierson $31.00

Joe Burns $34.00

Brad Hodge $34.00

Glenn Maxwell $41.00

George Bailey $41.00

Andre Russell $41.00

Brad Haddin $41.00

Adam Voges $41.00

Dan Christian $51.00

Nathan Reardon $67.00

Jordan Silk $67.00

Jake Lehmann $67.00

Callum Ferguson $67.00

Alex Doolan $67.00

Top Tournament Wicket Taker

Andre Russell $9.00

Sunil Narine $10.00

Samuel Badree $13.00

Clint McKay $15.00

Pat Cummins $15.00

Andrew Tye $18.00

John Hastings $18.00

Adil Rashid $21.00

Mitchell Johnson $21.00

James Pattinson $21.00

Dwayne Bravo $21.00

Scott Boland $21.00

Jason Behrendorff $23.00

Ben Laughlin $23.00

Brad Hogg $26.00

Cameron Boyce $26.00

Shane Watson $26.00

Steve O’Keefe $26.00

Sean Abbott $26.00

Kane Richardson $26.00

Stuart Broad $26.00

Joel Paris $26.00

Adam Zampa $34.00

Doug Bollinger $34.00

James Faulkner $41.00

Ben Cutting $41.00

Peter Siddle $41.00

Shaun Tait $41.00

Nathan Rimmington $41.00

Nathan Coulter-Nile $41.00

Daniel Worrall $41.00

David Willey $41.00

Chris Green $51.00

Mitch Swepson $51.00

Fawad Ahmed $51.00

Marcus Stoinis $51.00

Michael Beer $67.00

Jake Reed $67.00

Andrew Fekete $67.00

Mitchell Starc $67.00

Gurinder Sandhu $67.00

Jackson Bird $67.00

Nathan Lyon $67.00

Nick Winter $67.00

Ashton Agar $67.00

Sam Rainbird $67.00

Chris Tremain $67.00

Josh Lalor $67.00

Joe Mennie $67.00

Billy Stanlake $67.00

Opening Round:

Sydney Thunder v Sydney Sixers, Spotless Stadium, 7.30pm, Tuesday 20 December

Adelaide Strikers v Brisbane Heat, Adelaide Oval, 7:30pm, Wednesday 21 December

Melbourne Renegades v Sydney Thunders, Etihad Stadium, 7:30pm, Thursday 22 December

Sydney Sixers v Hobart Hurricanes, SCG, 6:00pm, Friday 23 December

All times are Australian Eastern Standard Time*

Odds were provided by Sportsbet and were correct at the time of publishing*


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