The new season of the Australian Big Bash League is almost upon us. With bio-secure bubbles, new innovations, crazy rule changes and more overseas signings, the 2020/21 BBL promises to feature some of the summer’s most entertaining and thrilling cricket games. Ahead of the start of world cricket’s most innovative tournament, we preview how the Brisbane Heat could fare this season.
After a dismal seventh place finish last season, the Brisbane Heat will be hoping to bounce back and fight for a play-offs spot this time around. They have lost a few key players, including star batsman AB de Villiers, as well as Ben Cutting and James Pattinson. But head coach Darren Lehmann will be hopeful that with their core of talented youngsters, led by Chris Lynn, can upset the odds this season.
The Heat will only be able to field two overseas players for the start of the tournament, with Tom Banton and Lewis Gregory away on England duty in South Africa. England’s Dan Lawrence has been called up as a replacement player, and the highly rated batsman will be aiming to make a big impact during his short stint in the competition. Lawerence and Banton are considered to be two of England’s most talented young batsmen, and they will no doubt give the Heat some explosive firepower at the top of the order. Mujeeb Ur Rahman is the Heat’s other international recruit. The Afghanistan off-spinner has an excellent record in the BBL, having picked up 15 wickets at an economy rate of just 6.09 in 18 matches in the competition. The Heat will also be able to call on legendary South Africa pacer Morne Morkel, after he gained Australian residency this year. Facing him often used to be a stuff of nightmares for opposition batsmen. And even at the age of 36, he can still be a handful in the tournament.
Brisbane’s Australian core features a lot of young players, including talented pacers Xavier Bartlett and Matthew Willans. Bartlett especially, is rated very highly in Queensland, thanks to his ability to swing the ball with pace. In just five first class games for Queensland, Bartlett already has 20 wickets to his name. Max Bryant is another player with lots of potential who will get his chances this season. He could open the innings alongside Chris Lynn, who has seen his value depreciate on the international level in recent years. But the hard-hitting batsman still remains a vital player for the Heat.
A look at the Brisbane Heat squad suggests it could be another season of struggle for them. Strengths appear to be few and far between, but if the likes of Chris Lynn, Tom Banton and Max Bryant find their form, they could potentially lead the Heat to some high scores. Having a youthful and inexperienced squad could go in their favour, and it could help them pull off a few shocks in the tournament. And they have an experienced coach in Darren Lehmann, who can no doubt get the best out of this squad.
The Brisbane Heat will have to make do without star trio Marnus Labuschagne, Joe Burns and Mitchell Swepson for the majority of the tournament. While Tom Banton will also be missing for the first few games. There are also big question marks over their bowling line-up, especially with Swepson out. The Heat seem to be lacking proven pace bowlers, and will have to count on veterans Morne Morkel and Ben Laughlin to take the lion’s share of wickets.
Players to Watch
The last 18 months have been rough on Chris Lynn. He may be the leading run scorer in the history of the BBL, but he has seen himself fall out of the pecking order for Australia. And he also warmed the bench for the Mumbai Indians in the recently concluded IPL. Still only 30, Lynn will feel that this season of the BBL will present the perfect opportunity for him to prove his doubters wrong. On his day, Lynn is one of the most devastating strikers of the cricket ball. And his form will no doubt will crucial to the Heat’s hopes this season.
The highly rated Xavier Bartlett will likely get his chance to impress this season, after showing glimpses of his quality during the early round of the Sheffield Shield this season. Bartlett is a very exciting prospect who is capable of delivering peach deliveries at will, as evidenced by his Jaffa to dismiss Tim Paine in the Sheffield Shield in October. The Heat’s pace bowling attack looks quite slim, and that could present the perfect opportunity for the 21 year old to have a breakthrough tournament.
Chris Lynn (c), Tom Banton (England), Xavier Bartlett, James Bazley, Max Bryant, Joe Burns, Tom Cooper, Lewis Gregory (England), Sam Heazlett, Matthew Kuhnemann, Marnus Labuschagne, Dan Lawrence (England), Ben Laughlin, Morne Morkel, Jimmy Peirson, Mujeeb ur Rahman (Afghanistan), Mark Steketee, Mitchell Swepson, Jack Wildermuth, Matthew Willans
Ideal Lineup for the Season
Tom Banton/Dan Lawerence
Sam Heazlett/Marnus Labuschagne
Mujeeb Ur Rahman
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December 14: Thunder vs Heat
December 23: Heat vs Strikers
December 27: Heat vs Hurricanes
December 30: Hurricanes vs Heat
January 02: Heat vs Sixers
January 04: Heat vs Thunder
January 07: Heat vs Stars
January 10: Sixers vs Heat
January 14: Heat vs Renegades
January 19: Heat vs Scorchers
January 21: Strikers vs Heat
January 23: Renegades vs Heat
January 26: Heat vs Scorchers