Renegades and Stars are giving Melbourne plenty of Christmas cheer in the Big Bash, says Matt Floyd
The Renegades and the Stars are giving Melbourne plenty of Christmas cheer, says Matt Floyd.
Last Updated: 23/12/12 4:33pm
We are exactly half way through the group stage and the two Melbourne teams are looking almost as dominant as the two Manchester teams are in the Premier League.
The Renegades have been a revelation. At the beginning of the competition many people (including myself) looked at their not exactly star-studded squad and presumed they would struggle to better last year's effort of finishing second from bottom. We couldn't have been more wrong.
Their bowling has been superb with the three-pronged spin attack of Murali, Aaron O'Brien and Marlon Samuels proving too hot to handle for most sides they've come across.
Aaron Finch is by far and away the tournament's leading run-scorer (will he be rewarded with a place in the Australian T20 team, I wonder?) and as the bowlers have been going so well the side has been able to rely on him to get the lion's share of the runs.
Having said that, he couldn't see them home in their last game against the Brisbane Heat and the middle-order showed the necessary skill and nerve to take 60 from the last six overs to win the game. They unquestionably look like the team to beat.
Their city rivals the Stars are close behind and having lost to the Renegades in the first match have won three in a row. Shane Warne is one of the most confident men to have ever walked onto a cricket field and that belief seems to have rubbed off on to his team.
Lasith Malinga looks close to his best, Luke Wright is probably in the form of his life and young Aussies like Glenn Maxwell and James Faulkner have impressed. Not only that but the skipper himself has started to rediscover some of the old magic - in the Stars' last game against the Sydney Sixers he successfully predicted on the mic that Moises Henriques wanted to slog sweep him and would top edge if he bowled slower and outside off stump.
In general being able to listen to Warnie on the mic throughout most of the game is a fascinating insight into the mind of the modern day captain and bowler - it's something that hasn't been done to this extent before and I reckon that only he can captain, bowl and commentate at the same time while continuing to win.
The one team who have looked like they might be the fly in the ointment in terms of the Melbourne domination of the Big Bash is the Adelaide Strikers, the surprise package of the tournament so far.
Like the Renegades they are a team of few big names (Kieron Pollard being the biggest) but seem to have a great team spirit. As the highest scoring side in the tournament they are also very watchable. I've got them in the office sweep so they better keep on winning!
The Hobart Hurricanes and Perth Scorchers are lurking behind them and can't be counted out. The Hurricanes just thrashed the Sydney Thunder to make it two wins out of four thanks to a Ricky Ponting Man-of-the-Match performance.
Having only played about 25 T20 games in his life there were those who were starting to doubt whether he was actually any good at the format but the Ponting who scored 63 off 45 balls looked in scintillating touch. He even managed to turn his arm over and pick up a wicket! You couldn't have written a much better script for his first game of the competition at the Bellerive Oval.
The Perth Scorchers have recovered from losing their first two games to win their next two and they are in the mix as well. There is bad news for all Sydney cricket fans I'm afraid - your teams are propping up the bottom of the table.
The Thunder's presence there perhaps isn't a surprise but not many expected the defending champions the Sixers to be where they are. With just four games left they might have to win all of them to ensure qualification for the semis.
So that's basically what's been going on in a nutshell; I've got a couple of days off to stuff myself full of turkey and mince pies and I hope you do to! Merry Christmas!