We finish another week of the BBL with a clash between two bottom three teams desperate to hold onto their finals aspirations. The Stars are hosting the Heat at the MCG, with these two teams probably the hardest hit by COVID throughout the tournament. With more than a full games worth of points between them and the Hurricanes/Strikers in 5th place, they’ll just about to need to win all of their remaining games to make it. That makes this a must win game for both teams, and thankfully it looks like Melbourne with give us a perfect day of cricketing weather.


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Expected Stars Xl: Clarke, Maxwell, Burns, Stoinis, Cartwright, Webster, Zampa, Rainbird, Hinchcliffe, Daniyal, Couch (Faridoun, Coulter-Nile)

Expected Heat Xl: Lynn, Zaman, Duckett, Heazlett, Bryant, Peirson, Bartlett, Bazley, Kuhnemann, Neser, Swepson (Cooper, Guthrie, Steketee)


The Stars are $1.73 favourites, which actually seems a little generous if both teams are near full strength. Of course the teams strength lies in Aussie representatives Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis and Adam Zampa; but all three have had a reduced impact after their World Cup winning heroics. Stoinis in particular is yet to contribute anything of substance, although injury has played its part. One potential boon could be the inclusion of Nathan Coulter-Nile, who is a class above the BBL and is back in the squad. Other than him and Zampa, the bowling is looking pretty shaky with Clint Hinchcliffe and Ahmed Daniyal very hit-and-miss, and Brody Couch having a middling impact but not really winning any games on his own.


The Heat get another wave of players back with Jimmy Peirson, Max Bryant, Fakhar Zaman, James Bazley, Michael Neser, Mark Steketee and Mitchell Swepson all returning to the squad. That means we can effectively ignore any recent form as the replacement players are no longer on the scene. One loss that will hurt is that of Mujeeb Ur Rahman, who has left on international duty. The class of Neser and Swepson playing their first games of the season will help cover that, but neither can be considered a T20 specialist. Fakhar Zaman having an impact would help kickstart the innings and take the pressure off Chris Lynn and Ben Duckett, while Bryant and Peirson need to offer more towards the back end of the innings (if they bat ahead of Bazley & Bartlett who have been immense with the willow).


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Love It- Fakhar Zaman $11,100

While his only BBL game so far didn’t deliver much, the Pakistan international has shown his explosiveness for his country and in other T20 competitions around the world. This looks to be a very generous price for someone who is capable of scoring very quickly at the top of the order. The potential for failure always looms large with pure batsmen, but this is a risk well worth taking against this Stars bowling attack.


Love It- Xavier Bartlett $16,200

Bartlett and Bazley have both broken out this season, stepping into the void of various teammates out of action to have an impact with both bat and ball. Bartlett is the superior bowler, combining pace and movement to strike early in the match fairly often. His skillset is probably still more suited to the longer forms of the game, but he’s more than good enough to excel at the BBL standard. Throw in a few very handy knocks and we have a bowling allrounder that is yet to reach the price tags of some bigger names around the competition. Bazley stands out just as much as a player who bowls his 4 overs every game and has taken 11 wickets in 8 matches this year.


Don’t Love It- Glenn Maxwell $21,300

Does Maxwell care about the BBL right now? After winning the World Cup and having COVID, he has gotten himself out in some very ordinary ways more often than not recently. He’s also been bowling less and having very little impact when he does. While it’s a bit harsh to doubt such a star of the competition, he’s given us 50+ points in 10/24 games in the last two seasons, or 80+ in 8/24. That’s a 33% chance that he’ll give us enough points to pay off a big price tag, and this Heat bowling unit is actually looking pretty good. Maybe not a full fade, but I prefer many of the mid-tier plays with limited cheapies to jam in.


Don’t Love It- Clint Hinchcliffe $12,900

Hinchcliffe has had a couple of nice games recently, but his career average of 32 in 21 games is propped up by a handful of 70+ scores. Those scores show us that he has the ceiling for this price tag, but I’m ready for his output to revert to the 14/21 scores under 31. He still might have a bigger role than usual with the bowling unit depleted, but Coulter-Nile coming back in would be enough to shift that balance a little. Again, perhaps not a full fade, but be wary.


Who Knows- Michael Neser $15,600

In a way what I’m about to say applies to both Neser and Swepson, as they’ve been limited to less than 10 games in the last 2 season (6 and 8) but being on standby for the test team throughout COVID times. Neither has a standout BBL record in the long-term, with averages in the mid 30s in the last 5 seasons (38 games each). Swepson has at least played this season and has the slightly superior record, so I’m putting the big question mark on Neser and what kind of impact he can have in an evolving heat team.


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