Sydney Thunder are out of BBL07 following their defeat by the Melbourne Renegades on Wednesday January 24. They will finish either in sixth or seventh place with a 4-6 win-loss record in the first expanded season where each team play ten games.
The Thunder’s 40% win ratio is, in fact, their second most successful performance after their premiership season, BBL05 in 2015-16.
Thunder used just sixteen players this season. I have given my assessment of each player based on their performance in BBL07, along with my opinion of their prospects for return next season and, where applicable, their chances in this weekend’s IPL11 auction.
Players are listed in order of matches played in BBL07:
Shane Watson (captain)
10 games, 331 runs, strike rate 139, highest score 77, 15 sixes from 238 balls faced.
17.4 overs bowled, 3 wickets, economy rate 9.5
“Injury free” are the two words worth noting about Watson’s season, and he was one of the star individuals across BBL07. Reluctant to bowl himself though and probably should have given himself the 20th over in a few matches. Now aged 36 he is keen to continue playing for the Thunder into the future.
Watson is Lot 4 at Saturday’s IPL auction on a reserve price of Rs.100 lakh.
10 games, 111 runs, strike rate 133, highest score 45
29 overs bowled, 9 wickets, econ rate 7.05, strike rate 19.3
What should have been a breakthrough season for Nair was marred when he was reported for a suspect action against the Hurricanes on December 30; a subsequent 90-days suspension prevented him from bowling in the final two BBL matches. Nonetheless he continued to make his mark as a big hitting late-overs batsman. If he can resolve the issues with his bowling, he can be one of the best finger-spinners of the T20 game in the manner of Sunil Narine.
Nair is Lot 489 with a base reserve of Rs.20 lakh. Although his bowling suspension expires before IPL11 begins (and is not binding outside Aus domestic cricket anyway), team owners may be reluctant to take him on in that situation.
10 games, 40 overs, 12 wickets, econ rate 6.12, strike rate 20
In a tournament where wrist spinners have begun to dominate, Ahmed has blossomed as one of the best. Eleven years younger than Brad Hogg so he has plenty of time ahead of him yet, and could well add at some stage to the two T20I caps he earned in 2013.
Ahmed is Lot 151 in the IPL auction with a reserve of Rs.50 lakh. His batting and fielding capabilities may count against him.
10 games, 88 runs, strike rate 139, highest score 63, 6 sixes from 63 balls faced
36 overs, 7 wickets, econ rate 7.36
A mainstay of the Thunder lineup over the past two and a bit seasons and likely to remain that way, as they have him under contract for two more years. The only member of the Thunder squad with no first-class experience, and this is not likely to change any time quickly.
Green was picked up the Lahore Qalandars for last year’s PSL but did not play a game. He is Lot 396 in the IPL11 auction with a base reserve of Rs.20 lakh and I would not be surprised if someone grabs him.
10 games, 136 runs, strike rate 160, highest score 48
A useful middle-order batsman and valuable outfielder, but at age 36 and having retired from the longer genres of the game it is unclear if he will return next year. I reckon the Thunder will welcome him back if he does. A regular for the Delhi Daredevils in 2013, he no longer chases IPL selection.
10 games, 39.2 overs bowled, 11 wickets, strike rate 21, econ rate 9.14
High profile international signing who quit the NZ system to go freelance last year, McClenaghan has been a frustrating mixture of good and bad in BBL07. One of the competitions leading wicket takers but also one of its most expensive, too often used as a death bowler for the Thunder. Considering they have built their attack around three spinners for much of the season, it is not his fault that he has been mis-deployed in some matches. Not by any means the worst overseas signing the Thunder have ever made (Chris Gayle has that title safely in his keeping), but if Andre Russell is available after suspension next year I know who I would be choosing.
Lot 6 in the IPL auction with a reserve of Rs.100 lakh. He’ll be at full throttle for one of the eight franchises this season for sure.
8 games, 185 runs, strike rate 106, highest score 48, 1 six from 174 balls faced.
Frustrating. A good player and unpretentious accumulator of runs but not quite what one would expect from a top-flight T20 batsman. Much as I hate to say it, he needs more unorthodoxy in his batting to succeed in this genre. Fortunately he does have one more year on his Thunder contract. Should be in the Australian Test team but probably needs to change his surname to Marsh first.
7 games, 102 runs, strike rate 104, highest score 37
Unfortunately Cal’s season was book-ended by leg injuries but he’s on a three-year contract with the Thunder so hopefully we’ll see him at his best next year.
His IPL days are well behind him, 2011 and 2012 for the Pune Warriors in fact.
7 games, 24.3 overs bowled, 9 wickets, econ rate 8.77, strike rate 16
After two poor seasons which must have had him close to losing his state contracts, Sandhu has looked much improved in all three genres this summer. Certainly a better choice of death bowler than McClenaghan. A rare one-club player in the BBL who holds a number of team records at the Thunder and hopefully they will hang on to him even longer.
A three-game veteran of the Delhi Daredevils in 2015, he is not in this year’s auction.
6 games, 202 runs, strike rate 143, highest score 81, 10 sixes from 141 balls faced. Ct 6 stumped 0
A surprise choice to open the batting but gained momentum throughout his stint in BBL07, continuing through to England’s ODIs against Australia. I would have played him as a specialist batsman and given the highly competent Jay Lenton the keeper’s gloves.
Buttler is Lot 41 on Saturday with a reserve of Rs.150 lakh
6 games, 30 runs, strike rate 71
Coming to the crease a bit late to properly show his stuff but displaced from the matchday XIII once Khawaja returned from Aus duty. T20 career (10 innings) strike rate is 93 and he is yet to advance from the “prospect” status. Nonetheless, he has a Sydney Thunder contract until 2019-20.
4 games, 41 runs, strike rate 170. Caught 1 stumped 1
Make no mistake, Lenton is, or at least should be, the new Chris Hartley of the Thunder setup. Had to wait till Buttler left for England duty to take his place in the 11, but in my view should have been in the team all along. Very useful striker of the ball and a sound wicketkeeper.
3 games, 137 runs, strike rate 145, highest score 85
The Thunder looked a different side once Uzzie returned from Test duty, but a thumb injury at the end of the season kept his appearances to three games. With next summer’s Test series against India expected to stretch deep into January, it is possible that Khawaja may be unavailable for most if not all of BBL08 if his Test spot holds.
Khawaja is under contract to the Thunder until 2019-20.
3 games, 75 runs, strike rate 125, highest score 40
Limited opportunities for the Thunder to date, as a late season replacement for Eoin Morgan in BBL06, and then in for Jos Buttler this year. Illness kept his BBL07 appearances to three, and I think we’ve seen enough to have him back next year for a full season if possible. Pretty sure he won’t have any Test commitments for England.
Not gunning for IPL riches yet.
3 games, 15 runs
Almost a forgotten man of the Sydney Thunder. Played a valuable part in the last-ball win over the Sixers on opening night. Mumbai Indians veteran from 2011 and 2012 but with the likes of Sangha and Uppal waiting in the wings for promotion to the full Thunder squad his Manuka Oval appearance on January 24 may have been his BBL finale.
3 games, 9.5 overs, 1 wicket average 94.00, econ rate 9.55
His prior BBL record was uninspiring and Fekete lasted three expensive games before being dropped for Gurinder Sandhu, who never looked back. Sheffield Shield for Tasmania beckons.
The following players were in the Sydney Thunder squad but played no games:
Test and ODI commitments kept Cummins away from BBL07, and although he has one more year on his Thunder contract, it appears unlikely that he will be seen in green and black in BBL08 either.
Lot 50 on auction day with a reserve of Rs.200 lakh.
Replacement for Cummins in the Thunder squad, McAndrew had prior BBL experience, playing two wicketless matches in the premiership season of BBL05. But none this year.
One of the stars of the Thunder’s premiership season BBL05, not did not even make it to a match-day 13 this time around. Would he have been a better death bowler than Mitch McClenaghan? We’ll never know.
Injury replacement for Callum Ferguson.
Will the record books show that Ed Cowan was twelfth man for the Sydney Thunder for one game in 2017-18? I doubt it.