SuperCoach BBL|08 Review: Sydney Thunder
IN THE cruellest of ways, the Thunder bowed out of BBL|08 after a four-wicket win against ladder leaders the Hobart Hurricanes in the final round of the season.
After opening their season at Manuka Oval with up-and-coming batsmen Jason Sangha putting on a clinic with the willow in a 63 not-out display, Manuka Oval would also be the ground where the Thunder said goodbye after a season of missed opportunities.
With guys such as Usman Khawaja, Pat Cummins, and Sangha on their roster, joined by English imports Joe Root and Jos Buttler, the Thunder had all of the weapons to make a dent in BBL|08, but it just never came together.
It's a bitter pill to swallow for the Thunder, who welcomed back Pat Cummins, the recently crowned Alan Border medallist, to the team for round 13, when he played his first game in more than two years for the Thunder.
In doing so, he claimed the important wickets of Matthew Wade and D'Arcy Short and looked in fine touch. He was joined by Test teammates Khawaja and Kurtis Patterson in the Thunder side but it was too little too late with the Thunder needing to win their rain-affected game inside 11.3 overs or less to prolong their season.
It was a year of ups and downs for the Thunder, who were good in parts and got the wrong end of the stick in others. They were robbed of vital points after the lights went out at the Gabba against the Heat in a game where evergreen all-rounder Shane Watson turned back the clock and the Thunder put together an incredible innings that undoubtedly would have been beyond Brisbane's ability to chase down.
Top 5 players
- Pat Cummins - BWL - 84.0 average points per game
- Daniel Sams - BAT/BWL - 59.1
- Usman Khawaja - BAT - 59.0
- Jos Buttler - WTK/BAT - 57.4
- Jono Cook - BWL - 49.2
It says a lot when two players on this list played only one game while another made a fleeting five-game appearance before national duties took him out of the tournament.
Cummins and Khawaja made an appearance in the round 13 win over the 'Canes at Manuka Oval.
Buttler continues to show he's a solid SuperCoach selection, and his ownership was high in a season where his position meant he could be selected as a wicketkeeper or batsman. Buttler was fantastic in his time, even having a three-game rolling average of 112.3 between rounds two and four.
Daniel Sams was a picture of consistency, playing a Ben Cutting-like role for the Thunder, and was influential with the bat and ball. He played a total of 14 games for the Thunder in BBL|08. His form in the back half of the competition tailed off, but he started strong out of the blocks and became a big trade-in target after scores of 168 and 149 in the first two matches.
The same can be said of Jono Cook. The 29-year old made the most of his opportunities, with four of his nine games resulting in scores of 70 points or more - including two centuries.
Top 5 disappointments
- Sam Rainbird - BWL - 19.4 average points per game
- Joe Root - BAT - 21.1
- Jason Sangha - BAT - 21.3
- Anton Devcich - BAT / BWL - 21.9
- Gurinder Sandhu - BWL - 34.7
Of all the players to head this list, it was arguably Sangha who was the most disappointing. While he opened with a big score in round one, he failed to get going from there.
He had an ownership flurry after a score of 112 SuperCoach points and looked to be the next big thing in the game, but from there he just never got going.
It's hard to have high expectations of a teenager, but he sold us SuperCoaches a dream and we were left high and dry, desperately trying to move him out of our teams SuperCoach points failure over the next two months.
Root made his Big Bash debut in BBL|08, but the English captain failed to register more than 50 SuperCoach points in his five appearances and was a flop, given his high starting price.
Gurinder Sandhu continues to be a great tease in this format, but such is the life of a bowler! "Big G" played 11 matches but averaged just 34 SuperCoach points with ample game time, which means you can probably put a line through him as a SuperCoach option in the future - no matter how good his JLT form is!
Top 5 individual performances
- Callum Ferguson - Round 10 - 197 vs Perth Scorchers
- Daniel Sams - Round 1 - 168 vs Melbourne Stars
- Shane Watson - Round 8 - 158 vs Brisbane Heat
- Daniel Sams - Round 2 - 149 vs Sydney Sixers
- Jos Buttler - Round 3 - 140 vs Hobart Hurricanes
Looking ahead to BBL|09
The Thunder will likely be unable to lure back their marquees in Buttler and Root in BBL|09 as they will be touring South Africa over the December/January period, meaning the franchise will be in the market for new international imports. Holding on to Sams and Callum Ferguson, who were two of the Thunder's best players in BBL|08, will be a local priority.
Sangha has proven to be a player of the future. In BBL|09 he'll look to be putting together more consistent performances, but it's clear he needs to bat higher up the order to have an impact.
The Thunder were unfortunate to miss out on finals, but in terms of putting together winning scores with the bat there's plenty to like about them when looking forward to BBL|09.
They ranked third amongst all teams for fours scored, with 164, whilst also ranking fourth for sixes. But many of these came from the bat of Buttler - they will need to find a suitable replacement for him.
If they can combine that firepower with some better bowling performances they'll be more than capable of returning to finals action.