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Big Bash League: Highlights From The Season So Far

The 2021-22 season of the Big Bash League is underway in Australia, with eight teams competing for the coveted title in the shortest format of the game. The Sydney Sixers are the defending champions, aiming for their third successive title, while the improvement in squad depth of the remaining teams makes the season highly competitive. As the Ashes dominate much of the conversation during this Australian summer, the Big Bash League is trying to create its niche through high scores and dazzling innings.

We take a look at the highlights from the ongoing 2021-22 Big Bash League season:

 

SYDNEY SIXERS’ BIGGEST WIN

The defending champions and title favourites Sydney Sixers began their season with a thumping win over Melbourne Stars in the first fixture of the Big Bash League. The Sixers are pursuing their third successive title under the captaincy of Moises Henriques. Made to bat first, the opening pair of Josh Philippe and James Vince built a solid 90-run partnership for the first wicket in just ten overs. Philippe was then joined by skipper Moises Henriques to put together a century partnership, with both batsmen striking eight fours and three sixes each. Henriques and Dan Christian managed to add 21 runs off the last two overs to take the Sixers to 213/4, a comfortable score by any means.

It was the turn of Steve O’Keefe to tear through the Melbourne Stars batting lineup, as he tagged with Sean Abbott and Hayden Kerr to bowl out the Stars for just 61 runs in 11.1 overs. Just two of the Stars’ batting lineup reached double-digit scores, with even skipper Glenn Maxwell getting out cheaply for 4 runs. The 152-run victory margin is the highest in the history of the Big Bash League, bettering their own previous record of 145-run victory. For his dazzling 83-run innings with the bat, Josh Phillippe was handed the Player of the Match award.

 

COLIN MUNRO’S DAZZLING CENTURY

The first century of the season came from a New Zealand international – 34-year-old Colin Munro – in the game against Adelaide Strikers. Munro scored an unbeaten 114 from 73 balls, setting a record for the highest individual score for the team. The previous best score for Perth Scorchers was 112 by Craig Simmons more than six years ago. Opting to bat first, the Scorchers cruised to 195/1 in the first innings courtesy of Munro’s innings. Despite a brisk 63-run innings by Matthew Short, the Strikers were bowled out for 146 to give the Scorchers a perfect start to the season.

Out of favour at the international stage, Munro came into the game with a point to prove. He scored just three runs in the first match of the season, and the Scorchers needed him to step up for their season to stay on the right course. Munro survived a huge shout for leg before wicket off the game’s first legal delivery was given two lifelines early in the early stages of his innings. But the veteran opener capitalised on his chances to put on a century that saw eight fours and six sixes, with the Scorchers scoring 53 runs in the last three overs.

 

INVASION OF THE ENGLISH

England’s focus on white-ball cricket during the last decade has earned them not just a World Cup trophy, but also the opportunity to boast of world-class players that can play in any conditions. Of the 24 foreign players participating in the league, 15 are Englishmen. All eight teams feature at least one English player in their 18-player squads, and both Sydney-based teams opted to recruit Englishmen to fill their overseas spots.

The dominance of Englishmen in the league is a win-win for both the franchises and the England Cricket Board. England’s success in the shortest format of the game makes their second-tier players more attractive, giving the franchises the comfort of player availability throughout the season. The experience of the fringe players in the league, especially in Australian conditions with whom England have a historic rivalry, provides the English team with a steady supply of talented youngsters. Among the more familiar names playing in the league are the likes of James Vince and Tom Curran for Sydney Sixers, Alex Hals and Sam Billings for Sydney Thunder, and Ben Duckett for Brisbane Heat.

 

MATTHEW WADE SHINES FOR HURRICANES

Matthew Wade’s brisk innings in which the veteran batsman scored 93 runs off 46 balls gave the Hobart Hurricanes a decisive victory over defending champions Sydney Sixers. This was the second fixture between both sides in the season, with Sydney Sixers already securing a win in the first game earlier in the week.

Opting to bat first, Matthew Wade and D’Arcy Short put together a 111-run partnership for the first wicket in 11.2 overs. Most of Wade’s runs came from boundaries, with the Australian player hitting nine fours and five sixes at a strike rate of 202.17. Short was then joined by Caleb Jewell to take the Hurricanes to a massive score of 213/2, with 142 of those runs coming from boundaries.

The Sydney Sixers were given a revised target of 196 runs from 18 overs using the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method. Openers Josh Phillipe and James Vince once again gave a strong start to the Sixers. But the target proved to be too steep, and a brilliant spell by Joel Paris prevented the Sixers’ batsman from running away in the chase. The Sixers could only manage to score 151/4 at the end of 18 overs, giving the defending champions their first loss of the season.

 

 

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