The eleventh season of BBL cricket gets underway on Sunday night.  See our preview of each team plus suggested tournament futures bets.

Adelaide Strikers

Are never an easy team to beat, especially in front of a packed out Adelaide Oval but I have some big question marks on their squad.

I think the loss of Alex Carey, who has been drafted into the Aussie squad to replace Tim Paine, could prove telling.  The Strikers will also be with out Travis Head, well at least for the first half of the season.  He is also part of the Test squad and looks likely to play the first test and therefor won’t be released.   They are going to be heavily reliant on Jake Weatherald with the bat to have a monster tournament at the top of the order.

Leg spinning all rounder Rasheed Khan, who lays claim to being the best international in the competition returns.  He’s a wicket taker and is capable of carnage at the end of an innings with the bat.  Peter Siddle is their other quality bowler of note, while Englishman George Garton is unproven with both bat and all.

Overall a lot of question marks.  Having something on the Strikers to finish in last place.

Brisbane Heat

The Heat won BBL 2 but haven’t managed a top two finish since.  Their very reliable keeper bat Jimmy Peirson takes over the captaincy reigns from Chris Lynn who can get back to fully focusing on causing carnage at the top of the order.

They have bolstered their batting with English pair Tom Abell and Ben Duckett.  Duckett scored the second most runs in The Hundred and has played international cricket for England in all three formats.  A quality player.  They will be looking for a monster tournament from him!  Twenty year old Afghan spinner Majeeb also returns and will play a crucial role for the heat with the ball.

The Heat are not a betting proposition for me.

Hobart Hurricanes

Hobart are not the easiest team to assess.  They tend to mix their form a bit and I would say have under achieved over the journey.  They finished sixth last year.  Never the less they will be a threat for anyone who comes up against them.  Matt Wade is very damaging at the top of the order in this format and will be full of confidence after his T20 World Cup heroics.  Ditto his opening partner D’arcy Short who scores his runs at a decent clip with seemingly little risk by T20 standards.  Then there is Ben McDermott.  He has plenty of power and class in their middle order.  The wild card is Yorkshireman Harry Brook.  He is unproven on these shores but is a youngster who performed very well in The Hundred.  Look out for him.

Riley Meredith is another one to keep an eye.  He bowls genuine Heat with the new ball and is capable of rattling through any top order on his day.  International Sandeep Lamichhane is a handy slow bowler and Nathan Ellis has really made a name for himself in recent years.

Overall the “Canes” appear to have a pretty decent squad.  My only knock is they may be a bowler short.  Looking to save on them in the competition winner market.

Melbourne Renegades

Currently the rank outsiders with the bookies after a poor BBL 10.  However they do have a habit of bobbing up the Renegades and punching above their weight.  If they are to do that they need more runs from the Aussie limited overs skipper Aaron Finch who has relinquished the Renegades captaincy for this season.  He is currently nursing a knee injury so will miss at least the first round but look for him to bounce back strongly this year after a terrible BBL 10.

Nic Maddinson comes across from the Stars to captain the side.  He has been in rare form in domestic cricket to start the summer and adds some much needed depth to the batting.  However he is injured and will miss early.  So will veteran Shaun Marsh – he has a calf injury.

Other players of note.  Pakistani international Mohamad Nabbi is back again.  He bats in the middle order and does a good job with the ball.  Keeper bat Sam Harper is only small but scores quickly at the top of the order and could be ready to explode. Mackenzie Harvey showed signs last year as did young gun Jake Fraser McGurk.  Both are capable of clearing the pickets.

Note the Renegades had a big win over cross town rivals the Melbourne Stars in the final practice game on Friday.

Melbourne Stars

The Rockstar’s of the competition.  They always have a number of high profile players in their squad and this year is no different.  Marcus Stoinis & Glenn Maxwell with the bat and Adam Zampa with the ball.  All three were part of the Australian XI in their recent T20 World Cup victory.  They lose West Indian Nicholas Poor and also Nick Maddison.  Gain leg spinning International Quais Ahmad and batter Joe Clarke from England who has a handy enough record in the shortest format of the game.  They have also signed little known 19 year old Pakistani leg spinner Syed Faridoun.

The Stars are rock bottom odds for mine in futures markets, however I am surprised Marcus Stoinis isn’t a clear favourite for Top Stars run scorer.  Stonis has a clear edge on Maxwell as he opens the batting and made the most runs in the tournament two years ago.  Also comes here full of confidence after recent heroics in the T20 World Cup.

Perth Scorchers

Historically a very strong team having won the competition three times and finished runners up another two.  That’s a top two finish in five out of ten seasons – very impressive!  They were sixth last year after a really poor start, but did fly home to just miss finals.

Their squad is very strong again.  Big hitting Kiwi Colin Munro is back for another stint.  And there is plenty of other quality in their top 6.  Mitch Marsh will be full of confidence off the back of an outstanding T20 World Cup, keeper bat Josh Inglis is touted as a future Australian player, Ashton Turner is an outstanding middle order player and Laurie Evans is an Englishman with a strong T20 record.

Lots of quality with the ball also.  Jason Behrendorff, Andrew Tye & Ashton Agar headline a star studded attack.

The only concern with the Scorchers is what the availability will be for their international limited overs players towards the back end of the tournament with Australia scheduled to play a one day series with New Zealand starting two days after the BBL Final.  Players such as Marsh & Agar are likely to be in the Aussie squad.  Regardless I think they are one of the teams to beat.

Sydney Sixers

Current favourites with the bookies and that’s fair enough given they’ve won the competition the last two years. Like the Scorchers they always seem to have a strong squad.  All three internationals are quality, Chris Jordan, Tom Curran & text book batter James Vince who did very well in The Hundred.  The skipper Moses Henriques has steered the ship home time after time with the bat and Jordan Silk is very under rated in the middle order. He brings in some strong form from the Sheffield Shield / Marsh Cup.

Overall the Sixers have very little weakness and look about their mark to win it at $4.5.  Will be saving on them.

Sydney Thunder

A team that historically plays their home ground very well.  Giants stadium is quite a slow wicket and they have a number of quality spinners who probably don’t get the reignition they deserve.  Love their signings.  Englishman Alex Hales and Sam Billings are back after monster tournaments last year.  Proven performers who can score quickly.  Big ticks from my end.  It remains to be seen the availability of captain Usman Khawaja who finds himself back in the Australian Test squad after a scintillating start to the domestic season.  He is not expected to play the first test so could be released to play big bash cricket.  Youngster Oli Davies burst onto the scene last year and is one to watch again with the bat.

As I mentioned at the top, the Thunder have a number of spinners who do a good job for them with the ball – especially at home.  Daniel Sams was in the Australian World Cup squad and is a wicket taker up front with the ball.

I expect the Thunder to be right there when the whips are cracking and I think they represent the best value in the Futures Market.

Suggested Betting Strategy

BBL 11 Winner Market

1.5 Units | Sydney Thunder @ $8 (TAB)

2 Units | Perth Scorchers @ $5 (TAB)

1 Unit | Sydney Sixers @ $4.50 (TAB)

.75 Unit | Hobart Hurricanes @ $6.5 (TAB)

Other Bets

2.5 Units | Marcus Stoinis Most Runs Melbourne Stars @ $2.80 (Sportsbet)

1 Unit | Adelaide Strikers to finish bottom @ $5.50 (Sportsbet)