Christian, Heat and Sangha all winners

Most deserved winners: Sydney Sixers

The Sixers have done everything that’s been asked of them so far.

They topped the Group Stages, which is proof that they were the most consistent team over 14 games.

They then beat the Scorchers as underdogs in the Qualifier to book their place in the final at the first time of asking, winning that game pretty comfortably in the end.

Unlike the Scorchers, whose Top 2 finish was built around winning five straight games at home in Perth, the Sixers won everywhere and were consistent wherever they were playing rather than just bossing it at home. They may not go on to win the final as 1.9620/21 favourites (odds before Friday’s Eliminator is played) but they certainly deserve to.

Most improved team: Brisbane Heat

Only one winner here. The Heat lost games, then they lost Chris Lynn. Skipper, opener, game-changer, talisman. They also had to make do without Tom Banton, who opted out late in the day, and then wait for Joe Denly to arrive and Joe Burns to be released from Test duty.

So, it’s a testament to them that they kept going. Their fortunes began to really change when Lynn recovered from injury, Burns started playing some good cameos and Morne Morkel was finally fit to add some spice to their attack.

Chris Lynn.jpg

And the result was five wins in a row, including a must-win game over the Scorchers in their final Group outing, a solid win over the Strikers in the Eliminator match and an excellent win over the Thunder in Sunday’s Knockout game. They’re 4.94/1 to go all the way and it would probably rank alongside the Renegades in 2019 as the biggest upset the BBL has seen, if they did so.

Player of the Tournament: Dan Christian

Shortlisted were Alex Hales, Josh Philippe, Jhye Richardson and Mark Steketee but I’m giving it to Christian. Now at his fourth BBL team, the 37-year-old nicknamed Siri (apparently you can ask him anything and he’ll know the answer) has done the real job of an all-rounder in making key contributions in all three disciplines. 13 wickets in 15 games despite averaging less than three overs a game, to go with his 13 catches, a lot of them under-pressure efforts on the rope.


But it was with the bat that he was just outstanding. His 252 runs included two fifties, both in man-of-the-match efforts, and a 49 not out where he also got the team over the line in a tough chase and could easily have got the match gong for a third time. His strike rate is a barely believable 186 for the tournament and he may not be done just yet.

He’s already won BBL titles with the Heat and the Renegades (two of the eight he’s won in T20 cricket in total) and it would no surprise if he makes it three with a third team. As he said himself at the start of this BBL: “old guys win things.”

Find of the tournament: Jason Sangha

Despite making his bow at this tournament, the young legspinner took 21 wickets in 15 games at an economy rate of just over 8. Bowling legspin in T20 cricket can be deadly or it can be cannon-fodder so it’s testament to Sangha’s ability that he almost always came out on top against some of the world’s best hitters.

With Adam Zampa not really kicking on at international level the way many hoped, Sangha’s potential gives the Australian Selectors plenty to think about.

Innings of the tournament: Sam Heazlett

This could have gone to one of the two centurions for the season- Alex Hales or Alex Carey- or to one of the many players who got to 90-odd.

But the most important, most unlikely knock was arguably that of Sam Heazlett for the Heat against the Thunder, in Sunday’s must-win Knockout tie.

Coming in with the Heat in all sorts of bother in a stiff chase, he’d played seven games so far, with a top score of 48 and no other score bigger than 20. By all accounts, he was mostly only playing because they didn’t have any other left-handers in the side.

For the first 20 balls or so, he couldn’t get it off the square, eating up deliveries, putting his team behind the eight ball. Then Marnus Labuschagne got out.

With no choice but to hit out, he suddenly found his groove and it all clicked. By the time he’d scored an unbeaten 74 off 49, the Heat had made an almost impossible-looking chase seem a doddle, wining with five balls to spare. It’s 5/1 he top scores for the Heat against the Scorchers.

Flop of the tournament: Aaron Finch

Aussie ODI and T20 captain Finch was pretty vocal about the strains of ‘Bubble life’ after a full IPL, followed by an ODI and T20 series against India and a whole BBL campaign after that.

It can’t be easy on anyone but then again, here are just a few of the other players who went through the same schedule as Finch: Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Alex Carey, Daniel Sams, Adam Zampa, Marcus Stoinis, to name but a few. Every last one of them had a good BBL at worst, in some cases pretty impressive ones.

Aaron Finch Melbourne Renegades.jpg

He can blame what or who he likes but Finch had a shocker.

In 13 games he scored just 179 runs at an average of 13, failing to get to fifty. He found new and increasingly curious ways to get out as the tournament progressed, testament to a man with a muddled mind, whose technique and belief is shot to pieces.

He’s not the sole reason for the Renegades’ own dismal season but as skipper and opener, he certainly didn’t help the cause.

Worst feature of the BBL: No DRS

The sight of Mitch Marsh, arms out, mouth open, starting to walk off and then actually turning round to shout something untoward at the umpire who has just given him out, wasn’t a pretty one. We’re all taught to accept the umpire’s decision in cricket before we’re big enough to hold a proper cricket bat but some of us may have thought…can you blame him?

There was at least six inches of daylight between his bat and the ball bowled by Steve O’Keefe in Saturday’s Qualifier against the Sixers, gobbled up by Philippe behind the stumps.


But up the finger went. At a crucial time in the game, no less.

Marsh is incredibly lucky to have just escaped with a 5,000 AUD fine rather than a suspension as well and I wonder to what extent the disciplinary panel took into consideration just what a shocker the decision was. So, he’s free to play against the Heat on Friday and is 15/2 to be Scorchers’ top bat and 17/1 to be man of the match.

As bad as the decision was, it could all have been avoided. With DRS.

There will be those for and against the increase to three overseas players, the Bash Boost point and the Power Surge. But no-one, starting with Marsh, will argue you shouldn’t be using the technology if it’s available. Good thing they’ll have it next year.

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