Plenty of value about at the MCG for the early game in tonight’s BBL double header.
The Thunder have runs in them but as always the toss will be big, hopefully the Stars win and bat well which will avoid the obvious Thunder Stack that many coaches will employ against this horribly out-of-form Stars outfit.
Big watches are on whether Nair plays and the Thunder omit Fekete / opt to take Watto in as their fifth bowling option. There are only 5 players on the Stars' 13-man squad who aren’t bowlers and one of them is Maxy – brave to expect 4 overs out of any Stars bowler tonight.
Stars: Handscomb, Dunk, Pieterson, Maxwell, Gotch, Faulkner, Gulbis, Hastings, Coleman, Worrall, Bowe (Fallins, Hilfenhaus)
Thunder: Khawaja, Patterson, Watson, Vince, Ferguson, Nair, Lenton, Green, McClenaghan, Sandhu, Ahmed (Rohrer, Fekete)
The knives are out at the Stars after a horrible season so coaches can expect the unexpected when it comes to their final XI.
Despite being recalled I’m not sure why they would play Hilfenhaus other than for sentimental reasons, more likely they will go with youth in Coleman and Worrall who both have a T20 future.
Bowe is the spinner of mine that will sneak into the XI ahead of Fallins but this will be a coin flip. Expect Maxwell to get an over or two if only one spinner is named.
Gulbis is lucky to be there but they like his power hitting late and with Wright not there I expect them to carry Gulbis for some batting insurance.
For the visitors Nair wont bowl (suspension) but is still playing as a batsman. Likely to bat #6 but given Green’s knock last start, that lower order will fluctuate depending on game situation.
Can see them playing Patterson and just banking on Watto to bowl his four but Vince opening with Uzzie will tempt them also, allowing Fekete to play which will put Fergy at #4 and Nair at #5 – the Patterson/Fekete selection will be huge so big wait and watch there.
Lock Watto in for his 4 overs if Fekete is left out.
Peter Handscomb should open the innings for the Stars tonight in Wright’s absence after his 49pt (41runs) effort two starts back doing similar. They may pull a swifty and open Maxwell but regardless Handscomb will bat top four which is great exposure for a player under 10k. Especially up against an out-of-form Dunk and a lower order keeper in Lenton.
If banking on a Stars top order collapse then Seb Gotch at 8k is a steal. Will bat #5 and is a good avenue to Khawaja and/or a general Thunder stack. Sandhu at $11.7k is a steal. Will get his four overs and is a good chance to dot Handscomb up early then come on late for some cream.
Watson goes very close here on opposition alone. Good chance to bowl his 4 overs if selection falls his way and will bat #3 so great exposure, but it’s the fact that Nair wont bowl and Faulkner/Gulbis have been horribly out of form that really makes Watto a must-pick. If the Stars bat first Khawaja becomes very hard to leave out also.
John Hastings will go the journey tonight but I’m not liking many Stars bowlers to be honest. Worrall/Hilfenhaus (only one will be picked you’d think) can be a force if the ball swings. If it doesn’t, they'll go for 40+n runs which means single digit scores. Can’t have Ferguson even if he bats #4, he just hasn’t had the impact I expected, tending to rush the big shots instead of build with two’s and smart cricket shots.
Pieterson will not have the ownership he has enjoyed in recent games with the likes of Maxwell, Vince and Khawaja all likely to be higher. So long as KP doesn’t get sucked into attacking Ahmed, a monster beckons for him here with 12 overs of medium pace and 4 overs of Green’s darts. He has let me down so much this comp but price and game situation dictate KP must be looked at strongly here. Gulbis and Faulkner should both be excellent POD’s tonight for brave coaches.