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BBL 2020 Team Preview: Brisbane look to Heat up their performance in season 10

Brisbane Heat is an underachieving team in the short history of Big Bash League. They won the title in the 2012/13 season but since then, have made it to the finals series just once, in 2016/17 season. Last year, they came a cropper once again and ended up at the second-last position. 

This time, the team would be without some of their most important players from the ninth edition. South African genius AB de Villiers is not in the team, nor is the impressive Matt Renshwaw. On the bowling front, James Pattinson, who bowled well in the latter part of the previous season, is not part of the squad too. 

To make matters worse, Tom Banton, who enjoyed some success last year, opening the innings, had to withdraw from the league due to mental stress caused by living in bio-bubbles. Another overseas players, rising spinner Mujeeb ur Rahman from Afghanistan has contracted COVID infection. This has thrown the team balance and equation into some flux. 

Replacing these players isn't easy. Certainly, de Villiers is irreplacable. But there is some compensation for the Queensland-based side. Morne Morkel has been picked up in the squad, though, as a local player. The former South Africa pacer, after retiring from international cricket, has settled down in Australia with his wife and, after gaining rights for permanent residence, now is qualified to be selected as a local player, not overseas. 

This is a huge gain for the former champions. Morkel has proven himself across the world as a top-class performer. Even in T20 leagues, he has managed to produce impressive results. With his height, he is well endowed to utilise the extra bounce available in Australia. He also knows the best length to deliver on such pitches. 

Batting Strength

Brisbane's batting capabilities are severely compromised due to the presence of their players in the Australian Test squad for the series against India. Joe Burns and Marnus Labuschagne are going to be away. In their absence, Chris Lynn becomes the leading batsman in the side. 

Lynn has become a leading T20 batsman around the world. Unfortunately, his form isn't looking all that good either. In Caribbean Premier League (CPL), he didn't produce enough runs and spent most of his time in Indian Premier League on the benches for the eventual champions Mumbai Indians. 

With Banton having withdrawan from the league, focus shifts to his replacement. Luckily for Heat, they have signed on a highly talented youngster in England's Dan Lawrence. He has been getting runs across formats in English domestic cricket, including in the T20 Blast. To add to his credentials, he has knowledge of Australian conditions thanks to a tour with England Lions where he plundered nearly 500 runs. 

Coach of Heat, Darren Lehmann expressed his happiness with the signing of Lawrence. 

"Dan is a really exciting pick-up for us and has a good reputation as a young player who can influence results with his skills and experience. He caught the eye during the Lions tour with the way he adapted so successfully to local conditions and that is something we think will help at the start of the tournament when we are playing in Canberra and at the Gabba and Metricon Stadium," Lehmann said. 

Lawrence himself is thrilled with his opportunity. 

"The BBL is a bit of a staple diet for us at home during our winter and it will be enormous to be a part of the League out there this summer. The Lions tour was a rewarding one for a lot of the squad and we certainly enjoyed the competitive cricket we got. We were able to play in some excellent venues during the tour. We didn’t get to play at the Gabba but we had a match at Metricon Stadium on the Gold Coast which was great."

Two other talented batsmen in the team are Sam Heazlett and Max Bryant. Heazlett got one fifty in the last season but has been, otherwise, without any success in T20 cricket. This season, with vacancies opening up in the batting line-up, the 25-year old should get ample opportunity to show his talent. He has already made his international debut, in an ODI against New Zealand earlier this year. A good return in BBL would bring him back in contention for a spot in Australian national team. 

Bryant opened the innings on several occassions last season. But he turned out to be a big disappointment, averaging just 14.50 in 10 matches. Eventually, he lost his opening spot to Chris Lynn who moved up the order. But that isn't the whole story as far as this young batsman is concerned. When one looks at his overall BBL record, it is a little more convincing. 

In 24 matches, he has scored 480 runs, including two half-centuries, at an average of 21.82. His strike rate of 148.15 is eye catching. In fact, in the eighth season of BBL, he and Ben Cutting combined to score 94 in the six overs of Power Play, in a match against Melbourne Renegades. 

Tom Cooper has been a veteran in BBL and has played every season since the inception of the league. After spending the past nine editions with Melbourne Renegades, he has now come over to Heat. A former Netherlands international, Cooper has 75 BBL matches under his belt. 

Experience is also an asset with the wicketkeeper batsman Jimmy Peirson. He has been in a BBL match 60 times and has managed an average of 19. This may look ordinary but unlike wicketkeepers who prefer batting in the top order, Peirson is in the old mould, providing boost lower in the order, thanks to a strike rate of 123.12.

In conclusion, it can be said that the batting stocks of Brisbane Heat have diminished considerably since last season. The mammoth hole in their line-up left by AB de Villiers cannot be fully filled up. It will require a big return to form from Lynn to provide weight of runs to his side. 

Heat would also be hoping that players such as Lawrence, Heazlett, and Bryant step up to score more runs they have so far. 

Bowling Prowess

The Test series between Australia and India hasn't just affected the batting department of Heat. Among the players that would be on Australia duty is Mitchell Swepson. A highly useful leg-spinner, Swepson has been a long-time servant of Heat and has more wickets than any other tweaker for the Brisbane-based team. 

With him away with the Australian Test side, the player to take the load of spin bowling for the team would have been Afghan unorthodox off-spinner Mujeeb Ur Rehman. Unfortunately, as stated above, Rehman's testing positive for COVID has ruled him out of the early part of the season. 

As a result, Heat would only have part time spinners to rely on in the begining of their season. Unless they opt for the relatively unheralded Matt Kuhnemann. A slow left-arm spinner, Kuhnemann is a largely unknown commodity in this league. 

When he does get ready to play, though, Mujeeb can be a very tricky bowler for Australian batsmen. A man with many variations in his bowling armoury, Mujeeb has managed to clamber up the T20I bowler rankings thanks to impressive performances last year. The success of his compatriot Rashid Khan in BBL would also motivate him to go further. 

The pace bowling department of Heat looks more assured. Morne Morkel's addition to the squad cannot be overstated. With his tonnes of experience, he could be the difference maker this season. He would also provide much needed guidance to other bowlers in the group. 

Among them is young Xavier Bartlett. Yet to play a BBL match, he has been with the team for some years. Now 21, with experience of 13 List A matches under his belt, he may finally be ready to get going on the big stage. 

At the other end of the age spectrum is 37-year old Ben Laughlin. With over 100 wickets in the league, he would have spearheaded his team's attack if it wasn't for the entry of Morkel. Still, his experience would be very useful. Last season did not go as well for him as expected. An economy rate of 8.77 and a strike rate just under 18 isn't very impressive. But that was the case with other bowlers in the team also. 

Another useful seamer in the squad is Mark Steketee. His stocks have risen in the last few days thanks to a brilliant performance against the Indian team in a practice match. He picked up a five-for in the second innings, which, though not necessarily a harbinger of success in an entirely different format, is a proof of his ability. 


A depleted batting line-up and a temporarily deganged spin attack are not an auspicious sign for Heat at the begining of the season. But the experience in their pace attack and young talent in the batting department are things which captain Lynn and coach Lehmann would be hoping sees them through. 

One big positive for the side is the fact that they would play seven of their matches, that is half, at home. This enlarged home advantage has to be used by the former champions to buttress their chances of getting to the title a second time. 

The Heat start their campaign on the second day of the league, December 11, against 

Brisbane Heat Squad

Chris Lynn (C), Joe Burns, Max Bryant,  Sam Heazlett,  Tom Cooper, Lewis Gregory, Matthew Kuhnemann, Marnus Labuschagne, Ben Laughlin, Dan Lawrence, Simon Milenko, Morne Morkel, Jimmy Peirson (Wk), Lachlan Pfeffer, Mitch Swepson,  Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Mark Steketee, Xavier Bartlett,  Jack Wildermuth, Matthew Willans, Jack Wood

Overseas Players: Lewis Gregory (Eng), Dan Lawrence (Eng), Mujeeb Ur Rahman (Afg)

Coach: Darren Lehmann

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Cricket South Africa confirms first tour of Pakistan in 13 years

The South Africa cricket team will tour Pakistan for the first time in 15 years in the January-February window next year for a T20 and Test series, Cricket South Africa has said in its release. The Proteas will play three T20Is and two Test matches from January 26. The Proteas will arrive in the country on January 16 and will undergo quarantine before they could begin training for the series and they will also play an intra-squad match to get ready for the first Test that will be played in Karachi from January 26, followed by the second Test from 4 February in Rawalpindi. The Test series will be quickly followed by a three-match T20I series scheduled to take place on February 11, 13 and 14 in Lahore. Notably, South Africa will be the only fourth team in the world to have agreed to tour Pakistan after a terrorist attack on the Sri Lanka team in 2009 which led to international teams and their players showing hesitation and strong reluctance to return to the country. South Africa had toured Pakistan the last time under the captaincy of Graeme Smith, and the tourists had won the Test series 1-0 while the ODI series was won by the margin of 3-2. The Test series was an iconic one as one of the best batsmen of Pakistan, Inzamam-ul-Haq played his last Test match of a decorated career in the final Test of the series and missed out on breaking Javed Miandad’s record as the leading run-scorer of Pakistan’s cricket team at that time by just 3 runs. 15 years later, Graeme Smith is in a different role for the South African side as he is the Director of Cricket with CSA and he has welcomed the confirmation of tour and lauded the ‘cricket-loving’ people of Pakistan while also thanking them for giving enormous support on the previous tours when he was there in the country as a player and the captain of the Proteas team. “It’s pleasing to see so many countries making a return to Pakistan – a proud, cricket-loving nation. Cricket South Africa is delighted to be counted among them. As someone who has toured the country on more than one occasion back in my playing days, I know how much passion the people of Pakistan have for the game as well as the love and support that the Proteas enjoy there as a team,” Graeme Smith said. Tour Schedule 26-30 January – 1st Test, Karachi 04-08 February – 2nd Test, Rawalpindi 11 February – 1st T20I, Lahore 13 February – 2nd T20I, Lahore 14 February – 3rd T20I, Lahore Powered by Froala Editor


BBL Matchday 1 Preview | Sydney Sixers and Hobart Hurricanes to kick start season 10

Defending champions from the last season, Sydney Sixers would feature in the opening match of this season as they take on Hobart Hurricanes at the Bellerive Oval, in latter team's city. Both sides would be missing key players due to their presence in the Australian team as well as some international imports who are coming later in the season. Sixers enjoyed a great season last year where they performed strongly in the league phase and remained clinical in the finals also to win the title. Hurricanes, on the other hand, reached the play-offs but couldn't progress further. However, starting the season at their home ground does given them a good chance in this match. Sixer's Combination This year, they would be missing Steve Smith as the latter would be busy with the Australian national side. So would be Mitchell Starc, though he thinks he could make an appearance towards the end of the season. So, the Sydney team would be relying heavily on last season's find Ben Dwarshuis. He would lead the attack and hope for good support from the other frontline bowlers in the team, as well as the all-rounders who have a good presence in the team. In the absence of Tom Curran, who also withdrew due to the stress of being in bio-bubbles, the Sixers would have to rely on the expertise of bowlers such as Jackson Bird and Gurinder Sandhu with the new ball. But there are some very prominent names among the all-rounders who can make a mark. Carlos 'Remember the Name' Brathwaite has been signed up by the team. Along with him, there is captain Moises Henriques and Daniel Christian. All three of these players are capable bowlers. All three are all-rounders as well, which will help balacne the team. The batting looks more solid with the enigmatic James Vince in the line-up. Vince, a failure at the international level, has been very impressive in T20 leagues, especially BBL. His opening combination with Josh Philippe is likely to continue. The likes of Daniel Hughes and Jordan Silk will have to take greater responsibility in the absence of Steve Smith. Henriques too, now becomes the most crucial element of the middle order witih Smith not in the line-up. West Indian Brathwaite has a great opportunity to regain some of that stardom which he gained after his heroics in the final of World T20 in 2016. He would be used in the lower order to give a much-needed boost to the team. Hurricanes' on Home Soil Hurricanes would not just be playing at home but may be favorities owing to the presence of some highly capable players. D'Arcy Short and Matthew Wade formed a devastating opening partnership last season. If Wade plays in the first match, this opening pair would pose a great threat to the opposition. A lot would also depend on captain Peter Handscomb. The nuggety batsman has managed to carve a niche for himself in the shortest format also. His appointment as captain shows the faith this team have shown in him. While not a big striker of the cricket ball, Handscomb may be useful in the middle overs to keep the scoreboard moving at a decent pace. An important addition to the team is South African Collin Ingram. He adds much needed experience to the middle order as well as big-hitting ability. Handscomb and Ingram's addition makes the batting line-up look a lot more reliable. The bowling department would be enthused by the entry of veteran South African Johan Botha. Out of international cricket for nearly nine years, Botha's comeback into the league is a surprise. But he would add experience to the bowling unit. The main focus, however, would be on last season's star performer with the ball for this team, Nathan Ellis. He proved to be the perfect T20-style bowler with yorkers and slower balls in his armoury. Ellis' efforts last year played a key part in taking his team to the play-offs. He should get good help from James Faulkner. Once a member of Australia's World Cup-winning squad, Faulkner can get the ball to bounce sharply from the left-arm over angle. Not to mention, Faulkner is also a very dangerous batsman down the order. Two other men would be in contention to be members of the pace battery. Scott Boland is the local option while Keemo Paul from West Indies has been brought over with great hopes also. Paul would be ahead on the pecking list at the moment. Hobart Hurricanes vs Sydney Sixers: Match Details Venue: Bellerieve Oval, Hobart Broadcast: Sony Sports Network, Sony LIV Date and Timing: December 10, 1:45 PM IST, 7:15 PM Local, 8:15 AM GMT Pitch Report The pitch at Hobart is different from the ones at other venues of the country. In first class matches, it provides great help to swing bowlers. Jackson Bird had been very successful here in the past thanks to that quality of the wicket. However, for a T20 match, there isn't likely to be too much grass. That should make the surface more batsmen-friendly. Weather and Toss Weather is expected to suit the players by remaining cool. Some clouds are expected to appear in the skies but not threaten any rain. Since it's an evening match, the captain winning the toss may not be too bothered about batting first and second. In such situations, batting first seems to be the default option. Probable XIs Hobart Hurricanes: D'Arcy Short, Matthew Wade, Colin Ingram, Peter Handscomb (C), David Moody, Ben McDermott (Wk), James Faulkner, Johan Botha, Nathan Ellis, Scott Boland, Macalister Wright Sydney Sixers: Josh Philippe (Wk), James Vince, Daniel Hughes, Moises Henriques (C), Jordan Silk, Jack Edwards, Carlos Brathwaite, Daniel Christian, Steve O'Keefe, Ben Dwarshuis, Jackson Bird Dream11 Fantasy League Team: Josh Philippe, James Vince, Colin Ingram, Peter Handscomb, Moises Henriques, Jordan Silk, James Faulkner, Carlos Brathwaite, Ben Dwarshuis, Nathan Ellis, Steve O'Keefe


Inside Out: What Virat Kohli, an ODI great, doesn't get about batting in T20s

Virat Kohli has been an undisputed king of limited-overs cricket over the last decade and all the stats about batting are stacked heavily in favour of his supremacy in international cricket. But, with T20 being an always-evolving format, is Virat Kohli, the master of chasing and a template for young batsmen across the world on how to pace an innings, faltering on the lines of lack of dominance for the sake of reliability and consistency? Is he batting with the wrong approach in T20s and trying to be consistent and in the process of attaining that, becoming a liability for the team. These questions started doing rounds again after India lost the final game of the three-match T20 series on Tuesday, 8 December at the SCG. Fans and pundits weighed in on the fact that despite Kohli staying till the 19th over India dropped the game with 12 runs to spare, albeit the hope was there till Kohli was batting in the middle. But, an honest look back on the middle phase of the game would hint that Kohli took a lot of time and left a lot to do for himself and Hardik Pandya in the last three-four overs. Understand the context of Virat Kohli’s approach and the negative impact it carried onto the batting line up in the last game India lost. In the chase of 187 in the last game, Kohli scored a 61-ball-85 and that left the team with only 51 balls to score remaining 102 runs and ultimately, India were defeated by 12 runs in Sydney. A 61-ball-85 does not look or sound a bad score or a bad strike rate but the impact of those 61 balls was telling on other batsmen such as Sanju Samson, Hardik Pandya and up to certain extent Kohli himself who was looking grumpy after missing balls he believed should have disappeared to give him and the team some impetus while the rate was surging higher and higher. To be fair to Kohli, his hands were tied by regular fall off wickets at the other end but scoring a fifty off 41 balls while the team is in pursuit of 187 runs does not bode well for the batting might of someone as Kohli. Or maybe, it’s the might of his batting and the enormity of the value he puts on his wicket is not letting him bat freely in T20s. Kohli bounced back a bit better, scoring his next 35 runs in mere 20 balls with a strike rate of 175, but his lack of ‘intent’ that everyone else in his team is blamed for in case they lacked in a match, put a lot of pressure on other batsmen and resulted in wickets. Another defence to Kohli’s batting approach in the last T20 could well be that Aussies bowled well to him and bowled with a specific plan and if he had gone out in quest of breaching those tactics, the visitors would have been in trouble anyway. But, Virat Kohli, would do well to take a leaf out of Brendon McCullum or Eoin Morgan’s book to understand that there are no marks for taking the game close or losing by a thin margin. One does not need to go beyond his scoring pattern in the last game to understand what is plaguing Virat Kohli in the T20 format. Australian captain Aaron Finch introduced the spin twins of Adam Zampa and Mitchell Swepson from the seventh of India’s attempt of the chase and since that time India got only one four and that came off Dhawan’s bat while Virat could not hit a solitary boundary between a dismissive off-drive off Sean Abbott on the first ball of the sixth over and the last ball of the 14th over that too was bowled by Abbott. He was batting at 31 from 21 balls at the end of the sixth over while at the end of the 14th over, his score read 64 runs from 48 balls, implying that the Indian captain took as many as 27 balls to score his next 31 runs. That is as abysmal as it gets for the standards set by batsmen like his friends AB de Villiers and his deputy in limited-overs cricket for India, Rohit Sharma. As stated earlier, Virat Kohli needs to understand there is no point scoring 80 odd runs and scoring 180 runs as a team when the flatness of the pitch allows batsmen to score as many as in excess of 200 runs. There will be no prize for either him and his team if they bat well and mount 180 odd runs with the loss of only two or three wickets and the opposition defeat them in the game of domination and aggressive batting approach. Kohli has been a master of understanding and reacting to the frailties in his own game and he would do well if he can utilise the time to find a balance between an aggressive approach and what he is doing now. He needs to unlearn a bit of discipline and the substantivity he has brought in his batting after suffering very few loss of forms in his fairly long batting career. Kohli needs to be realistic and weigh in his options while keeping in mind that he is no AB de Villiers or Rohit Sharma in terms of six-hitting or maybe even Jos Buttler purely in terms of ball-striking abilities to turn things around rapidly as they may have been able to do. Rohit too has been guilty of making slow starts in his innings, but he has always made sure that once he gets his eyes in, he starts making boundary lines smaller and smaller and similar is the case with AB de Villiers. Unlike those batsmen, Kohli’s game has not been built on ball-striking and that he relies on finding gaps and playing his natural strokes to get going even in T20s and those attributes don’t always work when the team needs 15 runs an over in a chase or as many as possible every over while setting up the total.


Sehwag attacks Glenn Maxwell again; says he comes to IPL for 'free drinks'

In a fresh attack on Australian all-rounder Glenn Maxwell, former Indian opener Virender Sehwag said that the Australian comes to the Indian Premier League just to enjoy and have free drinks while sitting in the hotel rooms during his stays. Commenting on the impressive performance of Maxwell in the recently-concluded ODI and T20 series against India, Sehwag said that Maxwell do realise that it will be tough for him to bounce back in the Australian team if he fails for a longer period of time as he does in the IPL and hence his level of performance never dips while playing international cricket but his numbers in the IPL has been terrible in the recent past. “His attitude changes when he plays for Australia. When he goes to Australia, he knows that if he has two or three bad innings, he will be left out of the Australian team and it will be difficult to make a comeback,” Sehwag said on the Sony Sports Network where has been an analyst during the ongoing series between Australia and India, has not made such remarks on Maxwell for the first time. Earlier, Sehwag, while reviewing the performance of the Australian all-rounder in the IPL 2020, Sehwag had ripped into his poor showing and called out his inefficient attitude in the cash-rich league. He had labelled Maxwell as a ‘Rs 10 crore cheerleader’ to which Maxwell had replied saying that he is aware of Sehwag’s outspoken dislike for him and that he is in the media because of those statements he makes of him. Maxwell also said that he takes Sehwag’s comment with a grain of salt and moves on. Notably, Maxwell was a force to reckon with in the white-ball series vs India as he unleashed onslaughts against Indian bowlers in both the formats while his batting form was abysmal, to say the least in the IPL held earlier this year where he could not hit even a solitary six and that’s quite appalling for a batsman of Maxwell’s standards.