SuperCoach BBL|08 Review: Adelaide Strikers
You say you're only as good as your last game, and fortunately for the Strikers they proved to be good enough to beat the Scorchers, pushing the Perth team to the bottom of the Big Bash League ladder at the conclusion of the BBL|08 season.
It was all that was stopping the side from being the first since the Sydney Thunder in BBL|05 and BB|06 to go from heroes to zeros, slipping from champions the season before to the bottom of the table.
Touted as favourites for the tournament before it began, only really Rashid Khan was able to back up his outstanding previous season, and the Strikers clearly missed the leadership and batting skills of Travis Head. Given his strong start to his career for Australia in the Test arena, it would be fair to assume he won't be representing the Strikers too often in future editions of the Big Bash League.
Top 5 players
- Rashid Khan - BWL - 70.6 average points per game
- Alex Carey - WKP / BAT - 48.6
- Michael Neser - BAT / BWL - 45.8
- Peter Siddle - BWL - 45.3
- Colin Ingram - BAT - 44.4
A model of consistency, Rashid Khan backed up his outstanding Big Bash League debut in BBL|07 with another stellar season in BBL|08. Finishing the season the fifth ranked player in SuperCoach, he was head and shoulders above his teammates. It was only against the league leaders Hobart Hurricanes that he really dipped, managing only seven points in a mauling at the hands of Matthew Wade and D'Arcy Short in which they guided their side home without a wicket falling.
After Khan, star players were in seriously short supply - Alex Carey had two 100-plus point rounds, but other than the season opener no real standout games; his second highest scoring round was when the Strikers had the double in Round 11. When the top order batsmen can't get going, then SuperCoach scores are always going to suffer as a result. Colin Ingram was the same - aside from one decent innings, he also failed to fire … and yet he still sits in their top five averaging players for the year.
Michael Neser and Peter Siddle shouldn't be close to the top five averaging players for any team with those sorts of sub-50 averages - but other than Khan, that's true of every player for the Strikers. Gallingly, it was really only having the double in Round 11 that saw Neser and Ingram climb up the average ladder.
Top 5 disappointments
- Jake Lehmann - BAT - 19.6 average points per game
- Matthew Short - BAT - 25.6
- Ben Laughlin - BWL - 37.3
- Billy Stanlake - BWL - 37.6
- Jake Weatherald - BAT - 37.9
To say it wasn't a good season for the BBL|07 champions would be an understatement. Last season, the combination of Alex Carey and Jake Weatherald at the top of the order was the equivalent of the Hurricanes' Wade and Short this time around. Weatherald had two 100+ scoring rounds, but other than that he simply couldn't get going opening the innings.
The same was true of Matthew Short, who started BBL|08 on fire with the bat and the ball, but then completely shuddered to a halt, only once topping 30 points in a round for the remainder of the season. Worse still, he dipped into negative territory in Round 10 against the Stars. That ain't bad, that's horrific.
In the previous season, quicks Ben Laughlin and Billy Stanlake teamed with Peter Siddle to provide a frontline attack that helped guide the Strikers to victory. No such heroics were had this time around, with Siddle often on standby for Australia and, when he wasn't part of the ODI set-up, Stanlake stunk it up, going for plenty and seeing his Economy Rate boom when compared to last season.
Top 5 individual performances
- Jake Weatherald - Round 11 vs Hurricanes - 137 points
- Alex Carey - Round 1 vs Heat - 132 points
- Rashid Khan - Round 1 vs Heat - 129 points
- Colin Ingram - Round 4 vs Thunder - 122 points
- Peter Siddle - Round 4 vs Thunder - 115 points
Looking ahead to BBL|09
One of the biggest queries that the Strikers need to determine ahead of BBL|09 is what sort of role does Jake Lehmann play in this side? Being a middle and sometimes lower order batsman who rarely bowls, in BBL|08 he either rarely got an opportunity or, when he did, failed to make the most of it - his top score for the year came in Round 10 when he made 53 SuperCoach points in a game in which he was the highest score for his side as they were mauled by the Stars.
If the Strikers are to rebound next season, they will need the likes of young guns such as Jake Weatherald and Billy Stanlake to rebound, and make runs and take wickets as they did in the previous season. You simply can't succeed in the Big Bash League without your top order making runs and your primary bowlers curtailing them or, better yet, taking bags of wickets. Stanlake took the same number of wickets in BBL|08 as he did in BBL|07, but his Economy Rate ballooned to 9.08.
Can the Strikers find some spin support for Rashid Khan? With this season having shown that good tweakers are worth their weight in gold, particularly when bowled in tandem, the Strikers are crying out for another option to pair with their Afghani poster boy. Could it be that the Strikers are one of the teams sniffing around Melbourne Stars' wunderkind, Sandeep Lamichhane? The idea of having the Afghani and Nepalese imports together would be a dream for their fans.