Have the Brisbane Heat finally got their team composition right?

Samuel Badree bowls for the Brisbane Heat. He will be hoping to lead his side to Big Bash League success.

T20 franchise cricket is very young, with tactics and team building strategy still evolving. Within these leagues, the wide-ranging decisions when it has come to composing squads is one of their most fascinating elements. In the IPL this year the Royal Challengers Bangalore met the Sunrisers Hyderabad in the final. RCB’s way of thinking about T20 was clear throughout the season, batting power was seen as the key to victory. The top three of Gayle, Kohli and de Villiers demonstrates this. The Sunrisers took an alternative approach, Dave Warner was recruited as the star power with the bat but investment in allrounders Moises Henriques and Ben Cutting also proved shrewd, while the biggest success was the Bangladeshi wunderkind Mustafizur Rahman who proved to be the outstanding bowler throughout the whole tournament. The Sunrisers won the final, RCB’s two overseas bowlers, Shane Watson and Chris Jordan, where not massively effective and a score of 208 proved too much to chase despite Gayle and Kohli providing a blistering start.

With this range of tactics and with nobody quite sure what the best route to success is, it is interesting to look at those sides who have under performed to try and work out what went wrong. Those teams who seem to perennially fail also provide the greatest draw to those cricket watchers who are naturally disposed to support for the underdog and have sympathy or take pity in a team’s haplessness. In India the Kings XI Punjab have taken up this role and in Australia it is probably the Brisbane Heat. Both the Heat and the Kings XI have manged to have one outstanding season surrounded by some dismal performances. In 2014, with the IPL being played in the UAE the Kings XI clicked for the only time in their short history. With the batting on David Miller, George Bailey, Virender Sehwag, Wriddhiman Saha and Glenn Maxwell they powered their way into the final. Maxwell was the key, he hit four fifties and finished with 552 runs at strike rate of 187. This year also saw young Indian players impress with the ball for Punjab. Axar Patel, Rishi Dhawan and Sandeep Sharma were all effective, providing excellent foil for the pace of Mitchell Johnson. This formula has never been repeated for Punjab. The local bowlers could not repeat their performances from this season, Mitchell Johnson got older and Maxwell and Miller have never been able to provide consistency.

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Criticism of Hesson, Larsen and Williamson too hasty as New Zealand face difficult rebuilding job

Colin Munro sees his bat break as Australia beat Kane Williamson and New Zealand in the first Chappell Hadlee ODINew Zealand’s rise in stature as a one day side can be roughly traced back to the appointment of Mike Hesson as coach in July 2012 and Bruce Edgar as chief selector in 2013. One of Hesson’s initial moves was to make Brendon McCullum captain of New Zealand and, while he undoubtedly mishandled the dismissal of Ross Taylor at the time, this decision was the beginning of the country becoming a white ball force. In the next few years New Zealand would find themselves winning series’ in South Africa, England and the UAE against Pakistan, as well as going six series unbeaten at home including two wins against Australia. But the most incredible achievement was reaching the World Cup final in 2015.

Fast forward to December 2016 and, with Edgar and McCullum gone, New Zealand find themselves on the receiving end of two poor displays in India and Australia. Hesson, Gavin Larsen (who replaced Edgar following his decision to stand down following the World Cup) and newly appointed captain Kane Williamson are already finding themselves under pressure. On the face of it the criticism does feel faintly ridiculous, it was only February this year that New Zealand beat Australia in a three-match series at home. But that was MuCullum’s farewell and miserable performances since, which have seen the side collapse from 63-3 to 79 all out in Vizag and be comfortably whitewashed by Australia, does create an understandable feeling of concern surrounding the team’s direction. There is much work to be done on the New Zealand one day team looking ahead to the Champions Trophy next year. However, how far can these results be purely put down to Williamson, Hesson and Larsen? The amount of change over the last 12 months meant this situation was largely inevitable. Larsen has not been given the chance to select a stable side and Williamson has had the unenviable task of captaining a team in Australia with only one batsman, apart from himself, that he could rely on in Martin Guptill.

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