Welcome to the first-ever edition of BBL Supercoach Watch, Wicky’s round-by-round preview article for the 2023/24 season of BBL Supercoach!
In this article, we’ll run through each team for Round 1 of BBL Supercoach, breaking down picks, talking strategy, and diving into venue, opposition, matchup, and other stats to help build your team for the round.
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Doubles: Stars, Sixers, Renegades, Scorchers
v Heat, The Gabba, 7/12, 6.15pm
v Scorchers, MCG, 13/12, 7.15pm
Game Day Update Wed 13/12 – The Stars have majorly reshuffled the pack for their first home game of the season. Glenn Maxwell and Nathan Coulter-Nile have been ruled out through injury and English quick Olly Stone drops out. In comes Pakistan’s Haris Rauf, a fit Mark Steketee, a now-available Beau Webster, and batter Nick Larkin.
This isn’t much use for BBL Supercoach Round 1, but watch out for how all this churn affects the playing XI. This Stars team isn’t settled at all, and game 2 of Round 1 is a source of more information for the Round 3 double.
Also named is young batter Campbell Kellaway. As mentioned below, if the churn results in his inclusion in the XI in a good batting role, you should look at him. At $62k, he’s an excellent price.
Game Day Update Thu 7/12 – So Nick Larkin isn’t part of the squad to face the Heat – that makes our analysis below moot for the Stars’ first game. Hilton Cartwright is in the squad though, so if you want to branch out with your Stars picks, that play is still an option. Wait for teams first, of course.
English all-rounder Liam Dawson is also included, but we reckon the fixtures and his availability make him an instant fade. Dawson’s available for the first three games, which takes you up to only halfway through the Stars’ Round 3 double. No upside is worth the chaos it would cause to your team.
English quick Olly Stone has been signed by the Stars and he replaces the unavailable Haris Rauf for the season opener v the Heat. If it’s an overseas player you really want, leggie Usama Mir is part of the squad and is the other main spinner available for the Stars.
We reckon all the uncertainty should strengthen the case for Maxwell and Stoinis as your only Stars picks to start the season. With the bye in Round 2, any more – and with all the availability issues, any other – Stars picks could be a real headache to manage in a first half of the season where you have three Stars doubles to capitalise on.
The fixtures have landed slightly awkwardly for the Stars in BBL Supercoach 2023/24 – doubles in Rounds 1, 3, and 5 but a bye in Round 2.
The simplest way to play this is to attack the latter two doubles (only one other club doubles in Round 3; only the Stars double in Round 5) and keep it low key in Round 1 (when three other clubs double and another triples).
Not only does this help safely navigate the bye in Round 2, you also have a clear path to trading in more Stars picks on the other side for the later doubles.
Not too many, though – they have another bye in Round 6, right after their third double.
With that in mind, only start with as many Stars as you are able to bench in Round 2. Glenn Maxwell ($118k) and Marcus Stoinis ($116k) are gun all-rounders, cheap, with great roles, and currently owned by 60% and 36% of the game respectively.
Again, we reckon this isn’t the double to attack and therefore not the double to overthink – start with a couple all-rounders, bench them in Round 2, and worry about everything else on the other side.
But is there anyone else worth looking at?
If you’re brave enough, or if you have to depart from Maxwell and/or Stoinis for whatever reason, Hilton Cartwright ($92k) and Nick Larkin ($75k) have excellent recent records against one or both of Heat and Scorchers.
They’re great value too. However, with Maxwell and Stoinis involved at the Stars this time, these two middle order sticks might not have a great role.
We’re also flagging Campbell Kellaway ($62k) as one to keep an eye on. If he bats at number 3 again, as he did a couple of times last year, you should be all over him especially with two more doubles to come.
Worst case, he’s a good enabler at that price/useful for looping.
With the Stars in Round 1, we reckon it’s all about setting up for the later doubles – start with a couple and scout roles for everyone else.
Our Men’s T20 Portal breaks down batting and bowling stats by opposition, venue, and phase of game, besides batting records by bowler type and individual head-t0-head matchups from T20 leagues around the world!
v Renegades, GMHBA Stadium, 10/12, 7.15pm
v Stars, MCG, 13/12, 7.15pm
Game Day Update Wed 13/12 – Scorchers have named an unchanged squad from the truncated game at Geelong. Weather permitting, hopefully your Scorchers picks will salvage some points today.
Long term, they’re fine to hold but not essential. Given their prices (unless they’re Cooper Connolly), your Scorchers picks are good candidates to replace with doublers after Round 1. Perth have singles from here, then consecutive byes in Rounds 4 and 5.
Round 1 is one of the Scorchers’ three doubles of the 2023-24 BBL Supercoach season. The second, however, isn’t until Round 6 – the other side of two consecutive byes.
You can go moderately hard on Scorchers early. But ship them out/bench them by Round 4, the first of those byes. Given their schedule, Perth are also a good contender for your trade boosts in the middle of the season.
Early signs point to a seam-heavy attack. Ashton Agar ($106k) is battling injury, which could leave Cooper Connolly ($70k) as the Scorchers’ only spin option.
At that price, he’s worth a shout if he’s bowling a couple of overs a game. Doubly so if he’s the champions’ main spinner on Sunday at the GMHBA Stadium. As mentioned above, it’s one of the more spin-favouring venues in the BBL.
But 2 overs a game is a massive ask for a guy who’s only bowled 2 overs full stop in the BBL. Unfortunately, with a Round 1 double, you can’t wait and see what Connolly’s bowling role is first before making your move. Watch out for any late team news between now and lockout.
Two other cheapies of note are Sam Whiteman and Nick Hobson (both $62k). Whiteman will likely get the better (opening) role, but he’s only made one 20+ score in the BBL since 2018/19.
The returning English stick Stephen Eskinazi ($141k) could partner him at the top of the order. All important Supercoach numbers suggest he’s worth the extra cash if you really want a Scorchers opener.
If you don’t think he’s worth $80k more and/or you think the brittle Scorchers top order will fail regularly enough for the guys in the middle to get a proper hit, captain Ashton Turner and England’s Laurie Evans (both $105k) might have caught your eye.
The worry with middle order sticks is always ‘will they bat enough?’. But Evans is more involved than you might think. A healthy average of 20.83 balls faced per innings in the last three BBL seasons, striking at 144, should ease some of your concerns.
The same number for Turner is 15.29. Without the safety of a top order position, honestly, most middle order sticks demonstrate genuine value only as holds over the long term.
The real safe pick is Josh Inglis ($179k), currently at 20% ownership compared to 7% for Turner and 1% for Evans.
There’s little to split these three as picks for the double. All have great records against one or both of Stars and Renegades. All have either good or negligible records at the two venues (not very helpful in deciding which of the three to go for). The other potential complicating factor is how Evans’ reintroduction will change everyone’s roles in the middle.
All told, it’s okay to not attack the Round 1 double from a Scorchers batting POV. Save that for Rounds 6 and 7, when there’s more clarity.
That leaves the bowlers. You can’t go much wrong with guns Jhye Richardson ($247k) and Andrew Tye ($185k) but we reckon Jason Behrendorff ($177k) is the Scorchers pick for Round 1.
For starters, he’s consistent against everyone but has notably good records against the Melbourne clubs.
Besides being cheaper than Richardson and Tye, Behrendorff is also an excellent shout for grabbing a juicy economy rate bonus. Here’s a chart of the best picks for economy bonus in the BBL over the last three seasons.
Behrendorff is quite reliable in hitting his 3-over threshold (required to be eligible for the economy bonus); he’s 3rd in this group for economy overall and the best seamer. If he hauls in either game, he’s well placed to gobble up bonus points too.
If you really want to branch out, though, consider Matthew Kelly ($146k). In January 2022, Kelly took 4-25 against the Stars at GMHBA Stadium. In Round 1, he (separately) plays at the same ground and against the Stars. You’ll have to wait for more concrete injury news before picking him though.
The other value of your Round 1 Scorchers picks is strategic. Including Aaron Hardie ($178k), Perth have lots of expensive assets. Besides being good picks in their own right, they could also be useful as price points to ease your switch to Matt Short in Round 2, if you’re not starting with him.
Little note if you want to do this with Inglis: pick him as one of your five batters rather than as your wicketkeeper to make the switch even easier.
We’ll be running our T20 Match Simulator during the Big Bash! Interested to know more? We’ve written a little article to explain how it works.
v Stars, The Gabba, 7/12, 6.15pm
v Strikers, Adelaide Oval, 9/12, 6.45pm
v Thunder, Manuka Oval, 12/12, 7.15pm
Game Day Update Tue 12/12 – Both sides are bolstered by the availability of the PM’s XI players. For Heat, that’s the inclusion of Matt Renshaw and wicketkeeper Jimmy Peirson, plus we might get an actual look at Nathan McSweeney this time. In accommodating all three, a quick could miss out. Hang tight for team news at the toss – it might be your pick.
If you have Heat spinners, though, they should be fine. Matthew Kuhnemann was unfortunately deprived of the chance to face a favoured opponent, Chris Lynn, at Adelaide. But he’s getting a second bite.
Thunder have Cameron Bancroft in the squad, whom Kuhnemann has dismissed twice in 14 balls in the last three years. This could unexpectedly be his haul – and he’s already sitting on 59 points.
Peirson’s return probably means the end of wicketkeeping duties for Sam Billings – something to consider if you’re holding him past Round 1. This is also the game, as covered below, we reckon Colin Munro hauls in (and he’s already made 99*). If you’ve captained/vice-captained Munro, you could really pull clear today.
Jack Wood has been left out of the squad, thus concluding his journey on the Heat’s Round 1 triple. If you have him in your team, we think the priority should now be to get rid: Heat have a bye in Round 3.
Game Day Update Sat 9/12 – The Test players are expectedly left out of the squad to face the Strikers. If you captained/vice-captained Colin Munro, congratulations. You’ve got a haul and the Thunder game’s yet to come.
If you vice-captained a Heat bowler, today is your second chance to see if they’re all playing and how they go. After tonight’s game, it’s go time if you were planning to loop, depending how it all goes down in Adelaide. You can, of course, delay the actual decision if you were aiming to swap out a Hurricanes or Thunder player rather than a Scorchers player. But you’ll get no more looks at the Heat.
Josh Brown is included and will probably replace Usman Khawaja at the top of the order. Jimmy Peirson is still unavailable so Sam Billings will retain the gloves, which is good news. He took a catch against the Stars.
The season opener was a vital source of information in seeing how the pieces of the bowling attack fit together. Unfortunately Paul Walter didn’t get much chance to shine. Early signs say he’ll find it tough to spread his (enormous) wings with Neser, Johnson, and Bartlett all playing.
But all three are rotation risks and any one dropping out could mean a bigger role for the English all-rounder. Even the Test players departing could mean a bigger batting role for him, although this is more speculative. If you’re a Walter owner, all is not lost. You should hope the other quicks are rested come toss time.
It was an excellent day out for Matthew Kuhnemann against the Stars. He finished with 59 points. Today’s the big day, the opponent he’s historically done very well against. Walking into it with a substantial cushion is a colossal boost – he’s been a great pick so far.
And it gets better – Chris Lynn has been named in the Strikers squad. Kuhnemann has dismissed him twice in eight balls in the last three years.
Game Day Update Thu 7/12 – The squad for the season opener v Stars has been named and Michael Neser is in it. He’s still a rotation risk, however, so this is a late spanner in the works. Spencer Johnson and Xavier Bartlett have both been named too. We’ll probably see all of them involved at various points during the triple.
That’s not great news but looping could help you out here. Heat play two games (Thursday and Saturday) before Scorchers (Sunday), Hurricanes (Monday), and Thunder (Tuesday) play their first. If you’re not willing to gamble your Round 1 captaincy on the Heat quicks’ fitness, there’s two games in quick succession to get the lay of the land – really, find out if your picks are playing – before you lock in your points.
The same obviously applies if you want to captain a stick. But the main consideration there is performance rather than appearance.
There’s also no Josh Brown in the squad for the first game. He might be more involved later in the round when Khawaja and Labuschagne depart for Test duty but you’re not getting three games out of him. We reckon he’s officially a fade now.
Jack Wood is confirmed as part of the squad to face the Stars. But with the Test players involved, that top order looks very crowded. He’s still in the mix, which is great if you have him, although watch out for the playing XI. Even if he’s included, first suss out if he’s named in a good role. Could be a waste of a Heat spot otherwise.
Between injuries and conflicting commitments, the Heat’s much anticipated Round 1 triple looks much less exciting now.
Several Supercoach-relevant players are either unavailable or only partially available.
However, the recent news that Colin Munro ($156k) is available from the start of the season is a major boost.
A top order stick with a triple, Munro has nine 50+ scores in the BBL since 2020, including a century. If you’re looking to captain a batter, you could do worse than him.
Recent history, meanwhile, suggests that third game of the triple – Thunder at Manuka – is the one you’re counting on for your biggest return.
In the last three seasons, Munro averages 59 against Thunder (striking at 131) and 51 at Manuka Oval (125).
Sam Billings ($116k) offers a different kind of upside. In the same period, the English keeper-bat made 20+ runs (required for the strike rate bonus) in nearly half his innings and struck at an excellent 143.
That’s the best of any wicketkeeper in BBL Supercoach this season save Ben McDermott (Quinton de Kock is making his BBL debut this year).
At the same time, though, Billings’ % of 50+ scores in this group was only 6th best.
Batting mostly in the middle, in short, his floor is fairly high but his ceiling is capped.
But with all the churn at the Heat, a consistent player could be a superb pick in a triple.
Billings is an interesting one – so here’s every keeper in #BBLSuperCoach this year (except QdK) & their 20+ & 50+ scores over the last 3 seasons.
— Wicky (@wickyai) November 30, 2023
The only note of caution to sound is with respect to where you accommodate Billings.
If he’s your keeper, there’s not many other places you could go in a single trade at that price point.
If he’s one of five batters, though, you have more options to trade him out for plus more slots in the XI and your bench in which to move him around.
In search of reliable Heat picks, you might have looked at their spinners Matthew Kuhnemann ($104k) and Mitchell Swepson ($71k).
Last season, Kuhnemann took 16 wickets to Swepson’s 5, took at least one wicket in 58% of his innings versus 30% for Swepson, and took a couple of 3-fers as well (for which there’s a 10-pt bonus in BBL Supercoach).
Swepson or Kuhnemann in #BBLSuperCoach? 🤔
You’re probably hunting for reliable Heat picks for the Rd 1 triple & maybe their spinners have caught your eye: cheap, prob play all 3 👀
But which of Mitch Swepson or Matt Kuhnemann is the better pick? 🤨
— Wicky (@wickyai) November 27, 2023
Look at the last three seasons and Kuhnemann still has the edge (although not by as much) and we reckon he’s worth the extra $30k.
Neither have dominated fixtures v their three Round 1 opponents in the same time – with the exception of Kuhnemann against the Strikers.
That’s the game you want him for – 7 wickets at 16 in three seasons, including 2-26 and a player of the match award at Adelaide Oval last campaign.
You should also hope Chris Lynn plays – Kuhnemann has dismissed him twice in the last three years.
Even with Michael Neser unavailable at the start of the competition, the rotation risk of Spencer Johnson ($125k) and Xavier Bartlett ($133k) should make you approach them with some caution.
If you’re willing to take on the risk of either or both playing, say, only two games out of three, the potential upside is significant: Bartlett has taken four wickets each against Thunder and Strikers in the last three years.
Johnson, meanwhile, has a fantastic role – he’s far and away the Heat’s most favoured death bowler, sending down more than 1/3 of his deliveries last year in the final four overs.
They’re only playing one game and little in the numbers suggests Usman Khawaja and Marnus Labuschagne (both $125k) are worth a shot for even that fixture.
Weighing up price and role, we reckon the pool of Josh Brown ($88k), Max Bryant ($66k), Jack Wood ($62k), Jack Wildermuth ($91k), and Will Prestwidge ($89k) should only supply your third and fourth (and beyond) Heat picks.
With Khawaja and Labuschagne available for the season opener, some of this group might not play all three games.
Maybe you’re also looking at English import Paul Walter ($105k), who batted in the middle and bowled slightly more than 2 overs an innings on average for Essex in this year’s Blast.
He struck at 157 for his 363 runs and bowled 22.49% of his deliveries at the death in the Blast; a role reprisal at the Heat makes him an attractive pick for Round 1.
There’s some reason to believe that’ll come to pass, too – with Neser absent and James Bazley and Mark Steketee having departed the club, the Heat have to replace their death overs.
Walter is a candidate to partner Johnson in the latter stage of the innings.
Finally, some of these picks look much less attractive without the triple, so you’ll want to trade them out after Round 1.
More importantly, the Heat have a bye in Round 3. You don’t want to be carrying too many from Brisbane into Round 3, if you’re carrying any at all – only as many as you can bench/trade out.
But that’s three rounds away. Don’t overload on Heat picks, especially with their ranks depleted, but there are two opportunities to bench and trade them out.
v Heat, Manuka Oval, 12/12, 7.15pm
Game Day Update Tue 12/12 – The first Thunder squad of the new season is missing former captain Jason Sangha through injury. They do, however, have their entire pace battery (Zaman Khan included), plus two spinners in Tanveer Sangha and skipper Chris Green, available.
This is a great chance to scout bowling picks for Thunder’s Round 4 double. Suss out who’s playing, when they’re bowling, and who you like the look of.
If, by any chance, you started with Daniel Sams we reckon that’ll pay off today v Heat, as detailed below. That could be a huge POD in a round that’s already seen a washout and a no-result after 6.5/40 overs, besides players not playing their entire doubles/triples for various reasons.
Thunder’s batting looks a bit better with Alex Hales and former Scorcher Cameron Bancroft named in this squad. This is a good chance to see how these two plus wicketkeeper Matthew Gilkes fit together in the top three. That could be useful information for the double.
He was an injury concern but Oli Davies has been named in this squad. We explain why we like him as a pick below and he should be on your radar straight away.
Lastly, watch out for the players who do well v Heat today. Thunder play Brisbane again in Round 4 as part of the double, so any stand out performers here could be good picks in just a few rounds’ time.
The Thunder’s fixtures in this year’s BBL Supercoach are rough for the first 1/3 of the season. It’s only singles in the first three rounds. Unlike the Hurricanes, though, their double lands sooner – Round 4.
That’s still a little while away, though. Plus, injury and availability issues leave Thunder with a depleted squad in the opening rounds. When available, however, you can’t go much wrong with Alex Hales ($125k; a great price) and new recruit Cameron Bancroft ($158k).
The pair could form a solid opening partnership and will certainly be the bedrock of the Thunder’s batting. They should also be back in action by the Round 4. Think of at least one for that double.
As often with this club, Daniel Sams ($162k) should be on your radar for any good fixtures. He had a remarkable season with the bat two years ago, a poor season last year, and his batting should hopefully stabilise a bit this season. Combined with his death overs role, that’s a pretty attractive package. And now, Sams once again has the form to justify the pick.
Earlier this year, in the UK’s Blast competition, Sams made 419 runs striking at 173. He also took 25 wickets at an economy of 8.4, never going wicketless in any game. His most recent T20 form is very encouraging.
There was actually merit in starting with Sams in your team. In the last 3 seasons, Heat are by far his favourite opponents with bat (average 46, strike rate 222) and ball (14 wickets at 16). Manuka Oval is his favourite batting (176 runs at 181 SR) and bowling (20 at 17) venue. Based on recent history, this is a slam dunk pick, even in a single game round.
But don’t worry even if you didn’t start with Sams. Thunder play Heat again in Round 4, as part of the double. Look at Sams as your other Thunder pick for that one and consider captaining him.
There’s nothing in the opponents or venues from the Thunder’s first 3 rounds to suggest that the quicks – Liam Hatcher ($144k), Nathan McAndrew ($159k), Gurinder Sandhu ($141k) – really stand out, especially on singles. If you’re looking at roles, though, keep an eye on Hatcher. In the last three years, the former Star bowled over 1/4 of his deliveries in the death overs. A role reprisal at the Thunder alongside Sams should at least put him on your watchlist.
But the most interesting guys at the Thunder are the value picks. Oli Davies ($117k) was a bright spark in the side that made the finals last year. When fit, he’s a great pick in his own right and a cheaper alternative to, say, Bancroft. If he’s fit in time for the Stars game at Albury in Round 3, you can even consider moving for him early. He made 65 (32) on that ground last season.
If you want to branch out a bit, Alex Ross ($85k) is very cheap and has held his own in recent seasons against three of the Thunder’s first four unique opponents – Heat, Strikers, Stars. Pretty much ditto Matt Gilkes ($101k), who could also open the batting or bat at 3.
It’s honestly not too early to pre-game for that Round 4 double. If you’re going down that road, we reckon there’s some merit in sticking a Thunder pick on your bench and holding until the double, starting them in the good singles along the way.
But the price has to be good enough to justify this. That makes Davies a contender but also consider Tanveer Sangha ($83k). The young leggie is fit again, has played for Australia this year, and is generally pretty consistent regardless of opponent. Plus, that price makes him an easy bench when you don’t want to play him.
Lastly, it’s not Sangha or bust from the Thunder bowlers. There’s one possible exception to the above-mentioned tepid records of the domestic quicks. When available, overseas seamer Zaman Khan ($105k) could be an exciting wildcard pick.
With a slingy action, he took 15 wickets for a Lahore Qalandars team that won the Pakistan Super League earlier this year. He followed that up with as many wickets as Sams – 25 – in this year’s Blast.
v Renegades, SCG, 8/12, 7.15pm
v Hurricanes, U of Tas Stadium, 11/12, 7.15pm
Game Day Update Mon 11/12 – The squad to face the Hurricanes is missing Sean Abbott due to personal reasons. That confirms he’s only playing one game of the Sixers’ only double of the season. Steve Smith has departed for Test duty – keep an eye on his replacement at the top of the order.
Todd Murphy is named here, giving the Sixers another spin option. You won’t be scouting any picks from the side in magenta for any future doubles. But given they have no byes either, it might be worth finding someone you like who could be an easy clip-on to your current team.
But most importantly, this is the moment of truth for Tom Curran owners. It’s also our first look at that long Hurricanes tail. We explain below why this is the game from which you should expect your Curran haul (he didn’t take a wicket v Renegades).
If you have Curran, hope for a big game from him today. If you don’t, see how that Canes tail goes and whether you like the idea of targeting opposition death bowlers against Hobart in future rounds.
Game Day Update Fri 8/12 – The Sixers squad named for their season opener is pretty strong – Hayden Kerr is the only injury absentee. England’s James Vince, T20 cricket’s most in-form player over the last 18 months, is named here, just in time for the Sixers’ Round 1 double. Involved in the Abu Dhabi T10 league until recently, there was a chance he could miss the first game of the Sixers’ only double so it’s great news if you started with him in your team. We reckon he’s a long-term hold from now.
The trio of Jack Edwards, Daniel Hughes, and Kurtis Patterson are all named as well and will be worth looking at for their role. Steve Smith is set to depart after this game and one of this group could well replace him at the top of the order.
Steve O’Keefe is part of this squad too, which is great news if you had your eye on him, or started with him. He only has singles after Round 1, but as the chart in the Perth Scorchers section of this article shows you, he’s one of the best picks in this game for economy rate bonus.
Izharulhaq Naveed, the replacement for Rehan Ahmed, is included as well. However, with Todd Murphy to return, it’s going to be a pretty tough group of spinners for him to break into, especially as an overseas player. Another overseas, Tom Curran, is in the squad too. As mentioned below, recent history suggests it’s the 2nd game of this double you should expect a haul from. Anything he gets today is a huge bonus.
The calendar offers a very clear strategy for your Sixers picks this time.
The side in magenta double in Round 1 and have neither doubles nor byes for the rest of the season.
There are no windows this year where you urgently need to draft in Sixers or ship them out. You could, thus, end up holding the Sixers picks you start the season with for a long time.
Doubly so if they’re on the cheaper side and shifting them won’t free up enough cash.
You’ll want guys who keep ticking over nicely, and have a high baseline regardless of conditions.
That said, the Sixers begin BBL 13 with 3/4 home games at the SCG. Venue considerations should factor into your early season Sixers picks.
Josh Philippe ($102k) is a popular choice for the wicketkeeper’s slot (50% ownership at time of writing) and rightly so. He’s a great price, has a top order role, and a double to start with.
He’s tempting to start with purely as a defensive move – literally half the game has him.
But if you’re looking at other keepers, Philippe’s home numbers might convince you to follow the crowd.
Compare with World Cup winner Josh Inglis ($179k), who has the exact same fixtures – double in Round 1, single home games in Rounds 2 and 3.
In the same time, he averages 26 and strikes at 130 at Perth Stadium.
We also like Sean Abbott ($197k) as a pick for the early rounds. He’s a gun bowler who’s ideally a long-term hold but he’s pricey.
If you’re not keen to commit to Abbott for the season, there’s merit in starting with him as an aggressive short-term play for the first two rounds.
His Round 1 double of Renegades and Hurricanes plus Strikers at home in Round 2 is a very attractive run. They are some of his favourite opponents in the BBL.
Averages of 8 (v Gades) and 16 (v Strikers) in the last three seasons tell their own story.
Plus, early signs suggest Hurricanes don’t bat very deep. That’s good news given Abbott’s death bowling role.
In fact, if you want to swing against the Heat’s triple for your captaincy in Round 1, Abbott’s a strong alternative.
What of Steve Smith ($267k)? One of the world’s leading batters scored two ludicrous hundreds back to back in the BBL last season.
This year, he’s playing the first game of the Sixers’ Round 1 double before departing for Test duty. It’s a quandary – elite player, but only available for one game. Outrageous upside, but equally outrageous price.
If the cost rules him out for you straight away then fair enough. But here’s a little insight into what might happen if you decide to splurge.
Smith plays the Renegades on Friday and if you’re confident he can play out Adam Zampa, the rest shouldn’t scare you.
His rate of scoring dropped massively against leg spin last season. Meanwhile, left arm pace posed him the most difficulty in rotating strike. He was also dismissed once each by these two kinds of bowlers last year.
If you’re looking at Tom Curran ($180k), the Hurricanes game is the one you’re expecting a haul from.
He took 3-27 at University of Tasmania Stadium in 2021. Besides, he’ll share some death overs at the Sixers against a Hurricanes side that doesn’t look like it’ll have much batting depth.
A couple of cheap wickets at the back end is exactly how he returned that 3-fer.
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v Sixers, U of Tas Stadium, 11/12, 7.15pm
Game Day Update Mon 11/12 – The first Hurricanes squad of BBL season 2023/24 doesn’t have any helpful clues about the playing XI – everyone is named. Equally, though, at least we know that Hobart don’t have injury concerns in the opening rounds. Given how BBL Supercoach season 2023/24 has gone so far, don’t scoff at that.
The fixtures aren’t great, but we’ve explained below how and why there might be value in Hurricanes picks for your BBL Supercoach team regardless. This game will be important for scouting purposes.
It’ll also be our first look at that long Hurricanes tail. That’s useful information for both batting and bowling picks. The former because the six recognised Hurricanes sticks might bat cautiously and accumulate safely to not expose that tail too early.
That makes them attractive picks with a high floor despite their schedule.
The latter because the bowlers who bat at numbers 7 and 8 could have a decent shot at batting points, becoming de facto all-rounders.
Watch out if one of the frontline bowlers is left out for Mac Wright or Sam Heazlett to increase batting depth. Heazlett himself, incumbent Tim David, and if included Corey Anderson could get larger bowling roles if the Hurricanes only start with four specialists.
It’s unlikely but nevertheless monitor if Nikhil Chaudhary starts. He’s a popular choice for looping and if he’s in the XI, you might have to look elsewhere.
At first blush, the fixtures aren’t kind to the Hurricanes – they only have one double, and way off in Round 7. But they have no byes all season either.
They’re probably a no-go to start the season (aside from enablers/looping) but if you have opportunity after Round 1, a Hurricane is worth considering. If you find the right pick, you don’t have to worry about byes and you can shift them back and forth between your bench and playing XI to cover for your picks who do have byes.
Here’s something really cool about the Hurricanes’ fixtures though. 4 out of their first 5 rounds are single home games in Tasmania, with the exception of Scorchers at Perth Stadium in Round 2. This includes three straight home games at Blundstone Arena from Rounds 3-5.
Most of your picks will be on singles after Round 1 anyway. If you make 1-2 of them Hurricanes who are good at Hobart, those are good singles picks with consistent home fixtures. As mentioned above, you can keep moving them around in your XI/bench to navigate other picks’ byes.
There’s opportunity here too – Strikers and Heat, both with early season doubles/triples, have byes in Round 3. That’s the same time Hurricanes’ little run at home in the middle third of the season begins. If you can spare the trades, definitely think about bringing in Canes after Round 1, possibly after Round 2. Set and forget, and then they double in Round 7.
With that in mind, you can’t go much wrong with Nathan Ellis ($152k). An excellent death overs operator making waves on the global T20 circuit and for Australia, Ellis has one of the best roles in this league. A staggering 40% of his deliveries in the last 3 BBL seasons have come in the last four overs.
As club captain, you have the assurance he’ll play if available. He’s also generally pretty consistent against every opponent in that same time. That’s perfect for your team given Hurricanes’ schedule.
At Blundstone, he has 25 wickets at 18 and an economy of 7.52 in that same period.
Paddy Dooley ($200k) had a breakout season last year and he’d be a good pick for similar reasons to Ellis. But that’s a steep price and good pick though he is, it’s too much to regularly stick on the bench.
A fit-again Billy Stanlake ($62k) could be an exciting wildcard pick, especially at that price, but if you’re keen on him in particular, we reckon it’s worth waiting and subjecting him to the eye test first.
All things considered, we reckon Riley Meredith ($141k) is the Hurricanes bowling pick you should look at.
Like Ellis and Dooley, his recent numbers are consistent regardless of opponent. But his case is strengthened by two things. First, his record at Blundstone (Bellerive Oval on Sundays).
In the last three years, that record reads 25 poles at 14 at an impressive economy of under 7. Same number of wickets as Ellis, but at a better average, economy, and strike rate (12.4 against 14.4).
Interestingly, he’s also been more reliable than Ellis at bowling out his quota of overs in that time – 81.58% of innings v 80.56%.
Second, at $141k, Meredith’s just within the limits of how much cash it’s acceptable to regularly leave on your bench. It’s definitely a bold pick. Maybe you can’t afford to do that, or don’t want to, and that’s fair enough. But consider him.
Any good batters? This might sound counter-intuitive, but Tim David ($158k) could be a reliable if low ceiling pick. He’s actually really good in hitting his 20+ run threshold and being a quick scorer, he’s well placed to grab some really juicy strike rate bonus points.
That chart above, in fact, suggests he’s on balance the best pick for strike rate bonus in the league. A bit like Laurie Evans at Perth, a middle order role shouldn’t be the reason you bin off David without further consideration.
The only downside, admittedly, is that the role does cap his ceiling. Less than 5% of his innings in the last 3 years have been 50+ scores.
He admittedly didn’t bowl that much last season. But there’s a somewhat plausible scenario in which David takes on more of an all-rounder’s role. Nobody else in the Hurricanes top six bowls even a little and their tail looks long.
If at any point, the Canes leadership group decides enough is enough and swaps out a bowler for a batter, bam, David takes on more of the fifth bowler’s overs.
Ben McDermott ($88k) is a good option for your bench. Recent history, though, suggests you don’t want to start him before Round 3 at least, if at all. Other sticks include Matthew Wade ($133k) and Caleb Jewell ($136k). The numbers from the last three seasons suggest it’s a complete pick ’em between these two specifically.
They’re also priced almost identically. Wade has the gloves but Jewell’s done slightly better at Blundstone lately. We reckon if it’s not David, it’s literally anyone else from the sticks. It’s tough to split the others and you’ll have to decide for yourself based on your team.
There’s a couple other sticks in the squad. Mac Wright ($94k) and Sam Heazlett ($62k) could be useful enablers at those prices. If the Hurricanes want more batting, they might be called upon, which is great news if you have them. Nikhil Chaudhary ($42k) is good for that too, plus looping. Similar to Chaudhary, but to a lesser degree, for Mitch Owen ($62k), although he does also have the flexibility of a dual position.
What about Corey Anderson ($105k) and Sam Hain ($116k)? If you’re keen on them, we reckon you should watch them first before making any moves. Even if you want Hurricanes, start with one of the bowlers or Wade/David/Jewell.
Only if Anderson and Hain offer some clear, unique advantage should you go for them, even if it means going sideways. Either way, these two plus Chris Jordan ($106k) are scheduled to play in the ILT20 in Jan-Feb, so any move will be short term.
v Heat, Adelaide Oval, 9/12, 6.45pm
Game Day Update Sat 9/12 – Adelaide’s first squad of the season is bad news if your chosen cheapies on the bench were Henry Hunt or Thomas Kelly. Great if you were planning to loop this round – that’s still on the table. But it probably makes you a bit uneasy if you wanted to sub them into your XI for the Round 2 double.
It’s a similar story with English quick David Payne – he’s not part of the squad either. He’s a good pick if selected – we explain below – but if this continues into Round 2, you might need a contingency plan.
Fellow English signing Jamie Overton is included in this squad and could be a great alternative in BBL Supercoach.
Other options are Wes Agar – we’ve made a case for him below – and Henry Thornton, also in this squad, among others. Today’s a big scouting day for your second Strikers pick for the double.
By contrast, all the news coming out of the Strikers camp about D’Arcy Short is music to your ears if you have him. Even before the game, he’s been confirmed as the other opener and named as one of the spinners in the squad, suggesting a fairly big role overall. Exciting times ahead.
The Strikers are one of 3 teams who don’t (at least) double in Round 1. But unlike Hurricanes and Thunder, they do double in Round 2.
With that in mind, you’ll either want to
(a) start with a limited number of Strikers across your playing XI and bench to pre-game for that double or
(b) trade in all your Strikers before Round 2, depending on how hard you’re planning to attack that double
If it’s option (a), you’re probably looking at Matt Short ($244k), the Strikers’ gun all-rounder and scorer of 1103 points last season.
Likely a popular captaincy choice in Round 2, he’s a decent pick to start the season as well.
The Heat are one of Short’s worst batting opponents – average 19 v Brisbane in the last 3 BBL seasons. But they’re his best bowling opponent in the same time.
Essentially, with his role, Short’s not the worst pick for the Heat game. Plus, starting with him saves you the headache of figuring out how to get him in for Round 2.
There’s a couple of interesting bowlers at the Strikers too. Rashid Khan’s withdrawal from the BBL has led the club to sign English left-arm quick David Payne ($139k) as an overseas replacement.
He played a few games including the final for the Scorchers last season and took 10 wickets in all.
Payne could quietly be a good pick for the Rd 2 double of Thunder + Sixers:
– did well v both last year (total 6 wkts)
– bowls in all phases of the inns
– bowls out his quota quite reliably (83% of inns)
– clears his 1-wkt & 3-over thresholds quite reliably+#BBLSuperCoach https://t.co/5DozjWSpR9 pic.twitter.com/uRv6j2LSSn
— Wicky (@wickyai) November 28, 2023
Meanwhile, Wes Agar ($149k) is another strong contender for your non-Short Strikers pick for the early season.
Adelaide play Heat in Round 1 and a double of Thunder and Sixers in Round 2. Agar has done very well against all in recent seasons, particularly Brisbane.
He’s not going to win many bonus points for economy rate. But Agar takes wickets – and especially against his first three opponents.
Last season, six of Payne’s 10 wickets came against the Thunder and the Sixers.
If you’re looking beyond Matt Short, it looks like Agar’s the Strikers pick you want to start with. Payne’s the one you want to trade in for the double.
But two of the Strikers’ first three games, including the Round 1 single v Heat, are at the Adelaide Oval. This is a ground where Payne took 3/20 last season, including Short for a duck. The Strikers were rolled for 92 and Payne was named player of the match.
It was one game, so treat these numbers with due caution. Less so for Agar, who has 28 wickets at 17 and an economy of 8.21 at Adelaide Oval since 2020. Nearly half his deliveries were dot balls.
Besides picks for your XI, Strikers have a number of cheapies who could be great enablers if you’re struggling for cash and/or for looping – D’Arcy Short ($67k), Ben Manenti ($75k), Henry Hunt ($69k), and Harry Nielsen ($63k), among others.
Watch Saturday’s game v Heat closely. If your cheapies of choice are playing, you can bring them into the XI for the double next round.
You can do this by benching your Stars, who have a bye the same round!
Lastly, Strikers have a bye in Round 3. Only start with in Round 1 and carry as many into Round 2 as you’re able to trade out and/or bench on the other side.
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v Sixers, SCG, 8/12, 7.15pm
v Scorchers, GMHBA Stadium, 10/12, 7.15pm
Game Day Update Thu 7/12 – Besides the expected Quinton de Kock omission, there’s two notable absentees from the Renegades’ first squad – Shaun Marsh and Peter Siddle.
Siddle has an excellent price, an attractive fixture list with 5 games in the first 3 rounds, and bowled at the death for the Strikers. But his exclusion here confirms his risk of rotation as his workload is managed. We might only sparingly see Siddle in action during the Renegades’ packed early season, which makes his upside moot.
The exclusion of Marsh here is bad news if you had your eye on him. However, it’s good news for Jake Fraser-McGurk and captain Nic Maddinson, who could now complete the top three with Aaron Finch to follow.
Ruwantha Kellapotha is left out, dashing hopes of a three-pronged Gades spin attack. It also suggests Adam Zampa and Mujeeb Ur Rahman could be the only slow bowlers to get a free run at Perth on Sunday at the more spin-friendly GMHBA Stadium. If you have either or both, that’s the one you should expect your haul from.
Any Renegades you start with are a hold for the first 1/3 of the season. They have doubles in Rounds 1 and 3.
The news that Quinton de Kock ($180k) will miss the first of those reduces his attractiveness as a long-term pick.
He’s been in excellent form lately, though, making four hundreds in the 2023 Cricket World Cup.
Definitely an option upon return, the main challenge with trading in de Kock after Round 1 comes from his price tag. You might need two trades to get to de Kock from your existing keeper.
Even with de Kock out, the Gades’ choice of top six bats isn’t much clearer. Captain Nic Maddinson ($87k) looks great at first glance. He’s got an excellent price, bowls a bit, good fixtures, could have a top order role.
He’s coming off an injury, but as captain you can at least rest assured he’ll play if available.
Maddinson has a truly appalling record against Jackson Bird – a couple of dismissals at 1.5 and a strike rate of 21 in the last three years. That first game against the Sixers could go south very quickly. But it’s still five games in three rounds for the club captain.
There’s three other Gades sticks of interest – veterans Aaron Finch ($125k) and Shaun Marsh ($114k) and young tyro Jake Fraser-McGurk ($62k).
Last season, Finch hit four fifties from his middle order position. For his part, Marsh batted long – an average of 29.67 balls per innings.
Fraser-McGurk is the cheapest of the three and made the fastest List A hundred in history earlier this year.
He’s incredible value for an excellent set of fixtures but isn’t assured of a spot.
Meanwhile, we can’t imagine Marsh bats outside the top three, so he’ll probably have a great role if selected.
The old hands are potentially more reliable. When you look at the Renegades fixtures in the first three rounds – Scorchers twice, Sixers, Heat, and Hurricanes – and how they’ve matched up to these sides in the past, you can see the appeal.
It’s worth pointing out that history favours Marsh against more of the Gades’ early season opponents than Finch.
But with the pair winding down their careers, your main concern will be if they’ve massively regressed since last season.
That campaign was also a big one for the all-rounder Will Sutherland ($158k) – 210 runs at 150 SR and 7 wickets at 8.41 economy.
He’ll be involved this season too but as one of the fifth bowlers and a floating hitter lower down the order, his price is unappealing given how role-insecure he’s likely to be.
Let’s put some numbers on it. Sutherland faced 10 balls a hit on average last season, reaching 20+ in 28% of his innings (with no fifties).
He only bowled out his quota 42% of the time. He also took at least one wicket in an innings in the same proportion.
Without a massive role expansion this year, that price is tough to justify.
What about the Renegades’ bowlers? The signing of Adam Zampa ($131k) is a huge coup. One of the world’s leading white-ball spinners and a key cog in the Australian World Cup-winning machine is a colossal boost for any side.
His quality and reliability are not in doubt but the most interesting thing concerning Zampa at the Renegades is his role.
The short version is that for the past three years at the Stars, he was bowling a greater and greater portion of his deliveries in the final four overs – and bowling them well.
He’s genuinely unique among BBL spinners for this, being a regular death bowler.
Last season, by proportion and volume, the Gades’ most regular death bowlers were Tom Rogers ($184k) and Kane Richardson ($143k).
In Zampa and fellow recruit Peter Siddle ($75k), they’ve added two more capable of bowling at the end.
— Wicky (@wickyai) August 28, 2023
Siddle looks like a steal at that price and with that schedule but he might be a rotation risk.
Watch that Round 1 double closely. It’ll give you some important information on whether and how much Zampa and (possibly) Siddle will eat into Richardson’s and Rogers’ death overs.
If you get word that Richardson’s shaken off any injury worries, he’s a good cheaper alternative to Rogers.
He has an excellent role, one of the most attractive in the league. Over the past three seasons, nearly 32% of Richardson’s deliveries have come in the last four overs, with that proportion climbing as high as 37% last year.
One last note about Renegades bowling picks. Their Round 1 double is a game each at SCG and Geelong.
Here’s how spin and pace have performed at those grounds in the last three seasons, with some other venues offered as a point of reference.
Straight away, that diabolical strike rate for spin at the SCG jumps out. Slow bowling just hasn’t proved a wicket taking threat here recently.
It’s the main note of caution to sound for your Sixers & Renegades bowling picks in Round 1.
On the flipside, GMHBA Stadium has the best economy for spinners in the same time.
It also has the smallest difference between pace and spin strike rates of all these venues. That suggests comparable potency for these two weapons.
Zampa has a poor recent record against Scorchers, averaging 77 in the last three years. The venue might help level things up a bit.
Besides Zampa, Renegades also have Mujeeb Ur Rahman ($126k) and Ruwantha Kellapotha ($79k) as spin options.
Couple that with the likelihood that Scorchers will head into their season opener with no frontline slow bowler, a spin choke might be the Renegades’ best gameplan against the defending champs – and your Gades’ spinners could have some fun on Sunday as a result.