On paper, the Brisbane Heat have one of the best sides in the 2016/17 edition of the Big Bash. Having won the tournament in the 2012/13 edition, the Brisbane Heat have failed to play to their potential in recent seasons. A key focus heading into the tournament is their bowling attack, as they have been overly reliant on their batsman in the past. However, they have attempted to address this issue in their latest signings.
Best Batting Line Up in the Tournament?
There is a strong argument for the Brisbane Heat having the best batting side in the tournament. It is likely that they will opt for the formidable opening pair of Brendon McCullum and Joe Burns. Ex-New Zealand captain McCullum was unable to represent the Heat last year, due to his international commitments. However, now that he has retired, McCullum is likely to be available for the whole tournament. Moreover, Brisbane Heat Head Coach Daniel Vettori has hinted that McCullum will be taking over captaincy duties from Chris Lynn this year. Vettori said:
“We’ve captained each other, we’ve played in the same team for a long time and now we get to go into a coach-player, coach-captain role,”
There is no doubt that McCullum is one of the most explosive limited overs batsmen in the world. His career statistics are simply phenomenal and his vast experience makes him one of the most dangerous batsmen to face.
His partner Joe Burns is also an extremely talented player. With the retirement of Australian opener Chris Rogers, Burns has recently had the opportunity of opening the batting for the Australian Test side. His Test average of around 37 shows he’s made a steady start to his longer format career. However, Burns is also an extremely dangerous limited overs batsman. Burns has a domestic T20 strike rate of just under 120, showing his ability to play aggressive cricket.
The Brisbane Heat are also lucky to have the last year’s leading run scorer with them again. Chris Lynn had a phenomenal season last year in which he amassed a remarkable 378 runs. At times Lynn looked unstoppable as he scored his runs at a strike rate of over 170. Yet, as mentioned earlier, there is a strong possibility that Lynn will not captain this year. Hopefully this doesn’t deter him from his batting and may even serve to improve his batting, by allowing him to focus more. If he is able to replicate his form this season, there is no reason why the Heat can’t challenge for the title. However, they will need to have a relatively strong bowling attack to support them.
The Brisbane Heat have the world’s third best T20 bowler in the form of Samuel Badree. The West Indian leg spinner has seen lots of success recently, both internationally and in various domestic competitions. In the World T20 earlier this year, Badree had one of the best economy rates in the tournament. He picked up his nine wickets at an economy of just over 5.3 an over. His recent form, however, has not been exceptional. In the recent T20 matches against Pakistan, Badree only managed to take two wickets across the two matches he played. Yet, he was still economical and was playing on pitches that did not have any assistance for the spinners. The pitches will be similar in Australia, so Badree has to ensure that he is economical if he is unable to consistently pick up wickets.
Ben Cutting, the fast-bowling all-rounder will be another key piece to Brisbane’s side. Like many other Australian players, Cutting enjoyed a stint in the IPL and had lots of success. Playing for the Sunrisers Hyderabad, Cutting helped his side reach the final of the competition. He took five wickets against some world class players and only went at just over 7 an over. His contributions with the bat were exceptional as well, as he finished with a strike rate of around 191. Perhaps Cutting will be able to transfer the experience he has gained to the Big Bash and become a true threat.
Young leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson is likely to partner Samuel Badree in a two-pronged spin attack. Swepson is new to the domestic scene but enjoyed remarkable success in last year’s tournament. Indeed, the 23-year old has 14 Big Bash wickets to his name but more impressive is the economical side to him. Throughout his overall Big Bash career, he has only conceded his runs at a remarkable 4.6 an over. However, he is still a very young player and it may be the case that his inexperience will start to be exploited.
Can They Win the Title?
With such a powerful batting line-up, the Brisbane Heat will be hoping to definitely qualify for the knock out stages. However, the real test of this side will be how well they cope in the field. Their bowling attack isn’t as strong as most other teams, and they will be definitely relying on their batsmen to carry them.
Also, there may be a slight issue in terms of the captaincy. If Brendon McCullum does replace Chris Lynn, it may take the team a while to get used to their new captain. It may actually be worth sticking with Lynn as captain to ensure that the team continues to operate in a way they are used to.