With Daniel Vettori injured and having to pull out of the Heat campaign, and Cricket South Africa not willing to release paceman Dale Steyn for his one-off game, the Brisbane Heat will be needing to make a couple of changes to its squad.
They face strong opposition in BBL|01 semi finalists the Hobart Hurricanes. The purple army has strengthened its side in BBL|02, retaining the big-hitting Travis Birt, wily spinner Xavier Doherty, and have secured Ricky Ponting for the entire competition after his retirement from the Australian squad.
Both teams are genuine chances for a crack at the BBL|02 trophy. There’s talent aplenty; from Joe Burns to Birt, and Luke Pomersbach to Ponting. To separate the two sides is difficult.
Spin in Twenty20 has become something of a weapon. Doherty was fantastic for the Hurricanes last season in the way he planned his wickets and overs. He has got a partner-in-crime – Jason Krezja – to work with against the Heat batsmen. Doherty can be very effective in blocking a steady flow of runs, and this will surely come into play against the likes of big hitters Chris Hartley, Peter Forrest and Dan Christian. Spinners getting on top could just mean vital wickets.
However, at the Gabba, pacers usually find it a dream. Ryan Harris and Alister McDermott for the Heat, Ben Laughlin and Doug “The Rug” Bollinger for the Hurricanes. That’s some pace attack.
Brisbane. The Hurricanes have the firepower and support that is needed to really post a big score on the board, which could cause the Heat some problems.
Dark Horse (Brisbane)
Joe Burns. While he has been in some stellar form over first-class and one day matches this season, the name Burns still doesn’t resonate completely around Australia. Looks to be a very solid batsman and has the potential to make it to the top level.
Ben Laughlin. Bowled brilliantly for the Hurricanes last season. Goes about his game with minimal fuss, and is able to trouble even the best of the state players.
The Gabba test last month showed big runs were capable of being scored. A minimum would be around 170. Travis Birt has shown himself to be a big exponent of the pull and hook shot – anything short may go sailing twenty rows back. If the Hurricanes bat first, and Birt is able to score big, it may be night-night Brisbane.