The Melbourne Stars, who were the runners-up last year, will be looking to win the sixth edition of the Big Bash League. In the 2015/16 final, they lost by a narrow three wickets in the final over, which was a heartbreaking end to their season. They have immense depth in their squad and boast some of the most exciting names in T20 cricket. Captain David Hussey has by far one of the strongest sides in this competition and will be aiming to take them all the way.
No Shortage of Firepower
When one thinks about the best T20 batsmen, it is hard to look beyond Glenn Maxwell. In recent years, Maxwell has proven himself to be arguably the most powerful batsman in world cricket. Earlier this year, he blasted a record breaking unbeaten 145 off just 65 balls against Sri Lanka. That innings included an incredible 14 fours and 9 sixes and was at a strike rate of well over 220. This shows how amazing a player he is and the Stars will be delighted he looked in similar touch during the warm up matches.
Englishman Luke Wright will also provide a huge a boost the Stars middle order. Wright is a highly talented T20 batsman and is vastly experienced in the format. With a career strike rate of over 145, Wright is an extremely dangerous player and would get into most sides. Admittedly, his recent form has not been exceptional. Representing Sussex in the T20 Blast, he managed 285 runs in the 12 matches he played. Slightly more concerning is the fact that he hasn’t played competitive limited overs cricket since the end of that tournament in early August. However, the Stars will be delighted by Wright’s performance in the warm up matches. In the final warm-up match, Wright blasted a 62 off just 37 deliveries. This shows Wright’s natural ability and if he finds form could be one of the players of the tournament.
Also in the spotlight is the controversial figure that is Kevin Pietersen. The ex-England international finds himself back in Melbourne for this year’s competition. Since his disputes in English cricket, Pietersen now travels the world playing in domestic limited overs competitions. The South-African born star featured in the Ram Slam recently, and appeared in fine form for the Dolphins. In his last few innings, Kevin looked at his best and hit an 81 and a 79 against some good bowling attacks. KP also appeared to be at his best in the warm ups, hitting 45 off 28 against the Premier Cricket All-Stars. His firepower and experience will be key to the Melbourne Stars’ chances this year.
The Stars have one of the best bowling attacks in the tournament. They currently have the seventh best T20 bowler in the world: James Faulkner. Faulkner has recently become an excellent death bowler and he has a wide range of variations. He is now one of the first names on the Australian limited overs team sheet, and he picked up two wickets in each of the ODIs he played against New Zealand. His contributions with the bat make him a highly valuable player.
Young leg-spinner Adam Zampa will also continue to play for the Melbourne Stars this year. Zampa has had a fantastic year, which has seen him rise to be the number one leg-spinner in Australia. He has represented the Aussies on numerous occasions this year, playing ODIs as well as IT20s. He looked extremely impressive especially against Sri Lanka in September. Zampa made the most of the turning conditions and took an impressive 3-16 in Colombo. His international T20 economy of under 6 shows that he is also extremely miserly, showing that he can help build pressure even when the pitch isn’t assisting the spinners. He is an extremely useful asset to the Melbourne Stars and they will be relying on him heavily in the spin department.
Should They Win It?
As last year’s runners-up, the Melbourne Stars will be desperate to finally win their maiden trophy. Ever year they’ve managed to get into the knockout stages and it is likely that this year is no different. On paper, their side is definitely good enough to win the competition. All they need to do is just live up to their potential and play a good brand of aggressive cricket.
You can see the Melbourne Stars in action on Boxing Day, where they will come up against the Hobart Hurricanes; that promises to be an exciting clash.