We’re gearing up for a Bash, and some top Poms are too
Adam Collins and Geoff Lemon, from ABC radio, take an offbeat look at the latest edition of the Big Bash
Geoff Lemon: El Golpe Grande, they call it in Spain. The smash that is the largest. The bash that is bashed most bigly. It’s time for the Big Bash again. It doesn’t even seem strange anymore, does it? It’s kind of friendly and familiar. Adam Collins: There’s this rhythm of the Australian summer we all grew up with. But that’s entirely different now. Every night people are tuning in, regardless of the teams or the colours they are playing in. That, as much as anything, is summer in Australia in 2016. Those who wish it were otherwise need better hobbies. GL: I have to say, it was the colours that made it hardest for me to adjust at first. So much luminous fluorescence – it was like Ken Kesey had organised a game at Willy Wonka’s private coral reef. But my brain has figured out how to turn down the magenta and puke-puce now, and there’s something reassuring about being able to flick on the telly any given night in summer and find a game. I don’t know who’s playing most of the time and I don’t remember a day later, but it’s great while it’s happening. Soma. AC: Last summer highlighted this. When the West Indies were being whacked, the summer was dead. Then the Big Bash started and 80,000 showed up to the MCG – utterly unheard of. No serious player on the T20 circuit wants to miss it now, Kevin Pietersen the case in point. Shunned by England, still pretty much a genius for the Melbourne Stars. Losing so many players to international duties, he’s clearly the most important in determining whether they can finally win a comp. GL: Yeah, national selection guts a great list on paper. Handscomb for the Tests, then Faulkner, Maxwell, Zampa, and likely Hastings for the ODIs. The Sydney teams are the others losing bulk players this year. It’s odd: in the women’s competition the Sixers and Thunder are the two biggest sides. For the men they’ll both probably struggle. AC: The Sixers have shed Steve Smith on the basis that he won’t play a game. Starc and Hazlewood probably won’t either,
with Maddinson, Lyon and Bird in the Test squad as well. Even Sam Billings, their big UK signing, may end up in India. Counterintuitively, such a talented list looks set to collect its second wooden spoon running. GL: Right, and the Thunder have Mike Hussey retired, Eoin Morgan for five minutes before England duties, Khawaja in the Tests and maybe ODIs, Cummins in the ODIs or injured, Andre Russell gone for missing too many drug tests, and of course the legendary calf muscle of Shane Robert Watson twanging like a Deliverance banjo. An utter shambles for a reigning premier. AC: Yep, they’re shot. There’s no replacing Usman as the in-form player on planet Earth last summer. The Renegades have lost Chris Gayle’s runs, but have James Pattinson’s pace on the comeback trail, Brad Hogg’s wrist-spin at a million years old, and Sunil Narine’s mystery spin. Tremain is one of the in-form Shield bowlers in the country, with a handy bloke called DJ Bravo spinning the tunes. All led by Aaron Finch who will be playing a lot more if his tenure in Australian ODIs is rescinded. They’re my pick. GL: Tell him he’s dreaming. Last season showed Red Melbourne as an organisation with shambolic management and some pretty ordinary principles. Gayle’s expulsion looked to be Cricket Australia’s doing. I doubt any of that can translate well onto the field. My pick would be Perth, boringly, to win for the 48th time. Ian Bell comes in from England – lovely timer of the ball, could be the guy to build an innings around. Mitch Johnson comes back, can put the frighteners up some players and hit sixes down the order. Then there’s the core of local support: Klinger, Voges, Agar, Paris, Tye, Bancroft, Whiteman, Cartwright, and a couple of Marshes. How about Adelaide? Cut off the Head and the body will die? AC: They’re an odd bunch, the Strikers. Always good for a semi, never a final. Kieron Pollard back from a knee reconstruction, Dunk transferring from Hobart, they’re going to hit more sixes. But Adil Rashid won’t be back, the best spinner of last year’s comp. They wouldn’t want to lose Chris Jordan to England duties either, already losing Travis Head for Australia. The theme continues: teams remain in contention by avoiding the affliction of their players being a bit too good. Which sets up the Heat. GL: I reckon so. Tell me, whose elevator did Chris Lynn break wind in, to be so rarely discussed for higher honours? AC: Ordinary for Australia last summer, injured in Sri Lanka. But the best player in the tournament last year, and certainly the man social media loves most. Brendon McCullum’s arrival gives ballast and ballistics. They’re bowling is weak, but I fancy they’ll have plenty to play with. GL: They have Samuel Badree, the leggie who inspires all my lines about charging and terminals that no one appreciates. Just about the hardest T20 bowler in the world to hit, took a ridiculous five-for last season. Hobart has one of the stronger bowling line-ups: Shaun Tait if he can land them; Cameron Boyce, who bowled the most expensive over in the world when he flew to Cardiff for six balls against England; and they’ve added Stuart Broad.We saw an ad for height-enhancing shoes, I’m sure he’s wearing some. No matter how the years tick by, he still looks like Draco Malfoy on stilts. AC: Plenty to play for, too, if Broad wants a way back into the England team before the Champions Trophy. I’m sure he’ll be welcomed warmly. Always is in Australia, right? GL: Coming over was a brilliant strategy. This way, at least one-eighth of local fans have to be nice to him.
We saw an ad for height enhancing shoes and I’m sure Broad has some. No matter how the years tick by he still looks like Draco Malfoy on stilts
A genius in Melbourne: KP will be starring once again
Expect fireworks: Pyrotechnics at the MCG, left, and raw pace from Shaun Tait