Our prediction is Adelaide Strikers to win.
The 2018-19 season of the Big Bash League gets underway with reigning champions Adelaide Strikers travelling to Brisbane Heat. The highly successful tournament will thrill crowds around the world and always keen to innovate, they have done away with the toss – well, sort of. Instead of tossing a coin, captains will flip a bat and instead of calling heads or tails, they will call hills or flats.
These two sides have met seven times before and the Strikers just edge the head-to-head with four wins to three. There was no corresponding fixture last year although when the Strikers hosted Heat, they won by 56 runs at Adelaide.
Even though Australia are currently in action against India, there are plenty of huge stars on show in this opening match. Brendon McCullum lines up for Heat and the Strikers will need to keep him quiet. On their side, they have drafted in Colin Ingram and Rashid Khan – who made quite an impact in the Mzansi Super League – as their overseas players.
Brisbane Heat have won the BBL once, back in 2012-13. Since then, they have not fared as well, dropping to the very bottom of the standings in 2014-15. Overall, they have played 60 matches, winning 26 of them for a 44.16 win percentage – bettering only Sydney Thunder. They have also twice conceded 210 runs so when it goes wrong, it goes badly wrong for Heat.
They will hope that having McCullum for a full season, as well as experienced internationals Chris Lynn, Joe Burns, Matt Renshaw and James Pattinson in their squad will put them in good stead. One to watch is Afghan mystery spinner Mujeeb Ur Rehman, something of a left-field pick but he comes highly rated. With none of their players on international duty, they have a full squad to pick from for the opener.
Brendon McCullum (c), Chris Lynn, Marnus Labuschagne, Matt Renshaw, Ben Cutting, Jason Floros, Jimmy Peirson (wk), Josh Lalor, Mark Steketee, James Pattison, Mujeeb Ur Rehman
In recent years, the Strikers have been one of the most consistent BBL teams, and in their 59 matches since the tournament’s creation, they have 31 wins for a 54.38 win percentage. Only the Perth Scorchers have a better record.
As defending champions, the Strikers will be keen to make a good start to prove they are in good shape to make another tilt at the title. However, they start without their captain, Travis Head, who is on duty with Australia, meaning Colin Ingram will take the reins. They have been given a boost with the news that Peter Siddle is available alongside options including Ben Laughlin and Billy Stanlake to take up the slack.
Alex Carey (wk), Jake Weatherald, Colin Ingram (c), Jonathan Wells, Jake Lehmann, Kalvin Smith, Michael Neser, Peter Siddle, Ben Laughlin, Billy Stanlake, Rashid Khan
There is rain around in the next few days in Brisbane but by the time of the match, it should be dry. It is also expected to be humid, which could slow the pitch a little and bring seamers into play. The Gabba is usually good for batsmen even though the playing area is huge. The average score batting first at the Gabba is 174 in Twenty20s.
The Gabba is one of Australia’s biggest venues – both in size and stature. It has a rich history dating back to the 19th century, but perhaps surprisingly, Australia have only ever played four Twenty20 Internationals at the venue despite it hosting the country’s first, back in 2006. Nevertheless, it is the home of the Heat, although they haven’t always excelled in front of their home crowd.
There is an almost even split between sides winning after batting first or second at the Gabba (15-13 with one tie) so the toss may not be of paramount importance. Heat only won the toss at home once last season and chose to field. The Strikers favoured batting first last season so if they win the toss expect them to ask the home side to field first.
It is always difficult to work out exactly what will happen in the early stages of a tournament, although at least with the BBL, the squads are very similar to last year. Heat tend to blow very hot or very cold while the Strikers are far more consistent. They won the last time these two sides met and will likely field a very similar side to the one that won the competition last year. We back them to get their title defence off to a winning start.
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