Cricket / jos buttler

BBL Round 3 Review & Fantasy League Update
As we are now 13 games into the tournament, we can begin to see how the teams are shaping up, where their strengths lie and also what weaknesses exist within their squads. Hobart Hurricanes are setting the early pace and the team from Tasmania will be keen to avenge their defeat in the finals last year at the hands of the Adelaide Strikers. At the other end of the table The Brisbane Heat have yet to win a game but at the same time they have had over a week off from their last match (22nd December) in order to fine tune their tactics and starting 11. As with all T20 cricket, the beauty of the short form game is that anyone can beat anyone on the day. As opposed to writing about the individual results from this round, I thought I would concentrate on some of the pitches and conditions that certain venues are providing as it is becoming obvious that these are having a dramatic effect on the types of games that we are seeing. This should also provide a good guide for those of us in the fantasy league as to which type of cricketers we might want to pick to be successful in certain conditions - horses for courses if you will. The Marvel Stadium aka Docklands Stadium (Melbourne Renegades) Which Avengers do you think would make the best cricketers? I mean the Hulk and Thor could presumably smash it about a bit at the top of the order. Spiderman would be great in the field and Dr Strange would be a first-rate finger spinner. source The Marvel Stadium, like so many of the venues in Australia, is a multi-purpose sports arena that hosts cricket in the summer and AFL in the winter. This means that the pitches are "drop-in" pitches i.e. the wicket is prepared away from the ground and is then "dropped" into place for the match to take place. By in large these kind of pitches do not have the same kind of pace or bounce that one would usually associate with Australian conditions. Indeed, the 2 games that have taken place at the Marvel Stadium this season have seen a high score of just 137 and a net run rate of just 5.88 across those 4 innings - not exactly thrilling cricket! To date, it has been seamers who have variations in pace that have been able to do the damage in the games hosted at the Marvel Stadium as the below graphic demonstrates. However, in yesterday's game the Sixers spin bowling pair of Stephen O'Keefe and Ben Manenti (making his debut) both looked dangerous and found turn from the wicket so it will be interesting to see what the likes of Rashid Khan and the plethora of wrist spinners plying their trade in this tournament can get out of it when they have their chance. We saw from the game yesterday between the Renegades and the Sixers just how soft and spongy the conditions underfoot were at this stadium not only on the wicket itself but also on the whole outfield which also looked to have a fair amount of sand on it. Given the slow nature of the pitch and the fact that batsmen aren't getting full value for their shots when they do connect then you'd be a brave man to bank on hitters getting you points when playing at the Marvel Stadium. It's also worth remembering that there is a retractable roof on this stadium which has been in operation for both games thus far. Obviously that takes away the influence of certain atmospheric conditions such as wind and in general, it must make for a fairly strange environment for cricketers who are used to playing in the open air. The Blundstone Arena (Hobart Hurricanes) One of the smaller venues in this contest but one that is seeing its fair share of runs and big hitting is Hobart Hurricanes home ground at the Blundstone Arena. Unlike the bowl-shaped modern stadiums that have developed in the other major cities of Australia this century, The Blundstone is a throwback to a more traditional type of cricketing venue and with its grassy banks set along the backdrop of the bay, it looks like a lovely place to watch a game of cricket. source This pitch is almost the antithesis of the Marvel Stadium and provides good pace and consistent bounce that allows batsmen to strike through the line of the ball with confidence. The outfield is fast and the boundaries short meaning that once a batsman gets on a roll they can be very hard to stop here. Of course, big runs by batsmen mean that bowlers figures can often take a pounding and that has particularly been the case with the out and out pace bowlers. In the game between the Hurricanes and the Thunder this round the likes of Rainbird, Sams, Meredith and Archer, all bowlers who consistently push the 140kph mark each went at over 11 an over. At this point it's also worth mentioning this most franchises in the BBL will play at multiple home venues throughout the tournament. Hobart Hurricanes, for example, have played 3 home games this season with 2 of them at the Blundstone Arena and the game completed today at Launceston. If you are betting on cricket or planning your fantasy team then you absolutely need to take into account the pitch conditions so don't be fooled by the fact that these teams will change venue every now and again for their home matches. The Optus Stadium (Perth Scorchers) The last of Australia's classical Test venues the WACCA has been replaced by this modern looking monstrosity. The WACCA was a bit of crumbling dump but it had character and had witnessed a lot great games of cricket over the years. The Optus Stadium built just the other side of the river is shiny and sleak but to date, it looks to be providing the same assistance to pace bowlers as the old ground did. source Although we've only seen one BBL game at the Optus Stadium so far, it resulted in the Adelaide Strikers being knocked over for their lowest ever score in the competition (88 all out). However, it looked like the kind of pitch that if they had made 120-140 they would have been in with a chance, particularly with the likes of Billy Stanlake in their ranks. If you aren't convinced that 1 game can necessarily dictate how a pitch will play in the future then it is also worth considering that 2 internationals have been completed at this venue in the last couple of months that have both seen fast bowlers dominate. When you consider that Perth have the likes of Behrendorff, Tye, Willey, Coulter-Nile and Richardson available to them, I'd be very surprised if they look to take away any of the grass covering that has been evident in matches so far and as such we will probably continue to see seamers dominate and batsmen struggle at the Optus Stadium this year. Fantasy League Update This week my team ( Sixers) faced @fraste in the head to head league and despite a fairly average points haul managed to come out on top 798 to 715 points. As you can see none of my players managed to pull off a really big score with Jofra Archer, my captain and a player who took part in 2 games this round only managing to add 124 points to the total (I'd be hoping for over 200 points in that situation). Ultimately though it was his points total above that of Fraste's captain Marcus Stoinis that probably won it for me. In other 3rd round fixtures, @hassan scored over 1000 points to record his first win of the season and beat @raamesa. @jpm8341's 100% record was ended by cricket Analysist Harsha Bhogle and @lama10 endured a 3rd straight defeat. This week I play @birjudanak's team Choks11 who to date have won1 and lost 2 of their head to heads. Looking at his team, it should be a very closely fought contest and I'll need a few of my players to perform a bit better than they did this week. To help me try and get the win I have traded out James Faulkner for Fawad Ahmed primarily because Ahmed is bowling well for the Thunder who also play twice during this round whilst the Hurricanes have a bye. Elsewhere Simon Milenko also of the Hurricanes failed to get much time at the crease and he is dropped for Manenti, the young off-spinner who impressed on debut for The Sixers in their win against The Renegades this week. At $57k he still something of a bargain although I've left him on the bench for this particular round. The final trade I made saw Pakistani left-armer Shinwari come into the side at the expense of Henriques. As you can see I've changed the balance of the team in general by putting Bravo and Sams in as batsmen and therefore opening up a bit of room for those bowlers to come in with big money buys Rashid Khan and Chris Lynn also returning to the 11 following their byes in the 3rd round. With wrist-spin proving so dominant this year, I now have 4 of them in my starting 11! Other 4th round fixtures see @raamesa take on @jpm8341 in an all Scorum clash while @hassan goes head to head with Mr. Cricket himself, Mike Hussey.

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