Cricket

Brisbane Heat BBL|07 Preview

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After three seasons of mediocrity, the Heat elevated themselves in spectacular fashion to the finals last season, their first appearance since BBL|02 where they won the tournament. It was on the back of Chris Lynn’s explosive finish to the season upon return from injury, however his potential quicker-than-expected recovery could see a strong Heat outfit from the start.

           Projected XI

  1.  Matt Renshaw
  2.  Brendon McCullum (c)
  3.  Sam Heazlett/Chris Lynn
  4.  Joe Burns
  5.  Jimmy Peirson (wk)
  6.  Alex Ross
  7.  Ben Cutting
  8.  Cameron Valente
  9.  Shadab Khan
  10.  Mark Steketee
  11.  Mitch Swepson

Rest of Squad: Marnus Labuschagne, Jason Floros, Max Bryant, Cameron Gannon, Brendan Doggett, Josh Lalor

The Imports

Brendon McCullum

McCullum has been fantastic for the Heat in his handful of matches for the team, taking on the responsibility of the captaincy while also opening the batting. His strike rate of 159 in his BBL career highlights his willingness to attack from the outset, and his average of 46 last season was a key factor in Brisbane’s run to the semi-finals. As a veteran, there’s always a danger of his form dropping off. Hopefully there’s another good year in him.

Shadab Khan

Khan, much like his namesake in Adelaide, is a 19 year-old leg spinner who has created much buzz for himself in world cricket. He has already played one test, 12 ODIs and 10 T20Is for Pakistan, with the international experience already having a tangible effect on his bowling. He has 47 wickets in 37 T20s, but his economy rate of 6.3 is the most crucial part to his game. Khan’s trickery will cause mayhem at the Gabba, but he’ll have to get used to the fact there won’t be much sidespin in Brisbane.

Yasir Shah

Brisbane’s back-up international for BBL|07 is Yasir Shah, who has established himself as the best spin bowler in Test Cricket. The 31-year-old has failed to become  a genuine wicket-taker in T20 cricket, however much like most leg-spinners that will feature in BBL|07, he is able to keep it tight. Shah will play if McCullum or Khan are unavailable.0

Strengths

Batting Depth

Brisbane has a potentially deep batting line-up, with a host of players that can hit quick-fire 30s at any position in the batting order. Ben Cutting is the traditional T20 floater and is more of a batsman in this form of the game anyway, while Valente and Khan are proven hitters at domestic level. If Alex Ross ends up coming in at six most games, the “sweepologist” can cause some serious late-innings damage.

Spin Bowling

While the Gabba mightn’t be known as a spinner’s paradise, the Heat have once again chosen to go into a BBL campaign with two leg spinners as their main bowlers. Mitch Swepson took 12 wickets last season in a breakout campaign, while the buzz surrounding Khan will excite fans. Brisbane’s pace attack is relatively up-and-down, placing even greater importance on the performance of these two.

Weaknesses

Pace Bowling

Steketee, Valente, Cutting, Gannon and Doggett are all talented but are all quite similar types of bowlers. Valente and Cutting should be getting regular games but aren’t the types that will reliably take bags of wickets. There’s an expectation that Doggett will feature at some stage given he has been a regular for Queensland this season, while Gannon, who generates a lot of bounce, was the best bowler in the competition in its infancy, but has stagnated. Steketee will lead the attack, but none of them have great change-ups.

Team’s Chances

The Heat should have some momentum from last season’s performance, or as much as you can carry in the 11 months between T20 games. Matt Renshaw should be available and it will be interesting to see how he adapts to the shortest form of the game. McCullum, Burns and Ross are reliable, while Peirson could shuffle around the order depending on the status of other players. There’s enough to like about the bowling, but concerns will arise if they are taken to the cleaners early. Any team with Chris Lynn in it is dangerous and the Heat will push for another finals appearance.

Prediction: 5th

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