THIS is about as wide open as it gets.
The KFC T20 Big Bash League kicks off on December 17 and every single team is in single figure odds at WilliamHill.com.au.
That’s right, eight teams and the longest shot is the the Brisbane Heat at $9.
The Melbourne Stars are favoured to win it all at $4.75, ahead of the Perth Scorchers at $5.50, while both the Hobart Hurricanes and the red side of Melbourne, the Renegades, are $6.50.
But clearly, the punters have no real idea at this early juncture.
The Stars are favourite for a reason. They’re led by ageing master blaster David Hussey, who has nearly 6000 runs in T20 competitions, placing him in the top five of all time.
Hussey averages 30 in the Big Bash, but there’s an even bigger fish in the ridiculously talented Englishman Kevin Pietersen.
Any one who has seen the video floating around of KP whacking straight drive sixes blindfolded will know that this guy is one of the all time greats. That footwork is just dreamy and it will be a key to how the Stars finish.
And if those two boys don’t get you, then The Big Show Glenn Maxwell probably will. Those are three of the finest T20 batsmen in world cricket and they are joined by English gun Luke Wright, who is a brilliant striker of the ball
Throw in a bowling attack of John Hastings, Ben Hilfenhaus, Marcus Stionis and gun all rounder James Faulkner and you have a recipe for success.
Faulkner will be Hussey’s vice captain and the latter says he doesn’t want the side to end up bowing out in the semi finals for the fifth season in a row, like it did against the Perth Scorchers last year.
“It’s an interesting decision by the Melbourne Stars,” Hussey said.
“James Faulkner’s going to be the vice captain and he’s going to be a great person to bounce ideas off.
“I’m really focused on helping the Melbourne Stars.
“I want to win some silverware
“It is frustrating.
“We’ve been semi finalists every year since the inception of the competition.”
But they’ve never made it to the big dance.
And they might have even had former Australian captain Michael Clarke to add to that already imposing line up.
But the just retired legend of the game has decided to take a break, rather than play in the short form competition over Christmas and New Years.
“I think with all the emotion over the last 10 months or so, I felt now was the right time to have some meaningful time away from the game and focus on the next exciting phase of my life, which will include the birth of our first child,” Clarke said of his decision.
“I have made this decision now, as I didn’t want to let the Stars down if I wasn’t 100 per cent committed to playing.
“I will reassess everything cricket related sometime in the new year.
“The Stars have been particularly supportive of me and I’m sure I will be involved with this fantastic club in some capacity in the future.”
The Scorchers, who won last year’s incarnation by defeating the Sydney Sixers ($8), have played in every single final of the Big Bash League and taken home the title twice.
They possess a litany of big hitting batsmen, each capable of plundering a massive score off very few balls.
None are better than opener and the tournament’s highest scoring batsman last year, Michael Klinger, who plundered 326 runs last campaign.
The captain Adam Voges has had some success at international level and will bring that recent top line experience to his already considerable talent.
Lightning quicks Jason Behrendorff and Nathan Coulter-Nile will enjoy support from spinners Ashton Agar and Brad Hogg, who has signed on for yet another year at the ripe old age of 88 (44).
The evergreen Hogg still has a thirst for it and reckons he will play for as long as his body allows it.
“That’s the beauty of age – you know your strengths and don’t take yourself too seriously,” Hogg said.
“I said I’d play as long as I still have something to contribute and as long as my ageing body doesn’t let the team down, so it’s a year by year thing for me at nearly 45.
“Thankfully, the body is holding up, I’m feeling as fit as ever, so I’m thrilled to be back for the fifth year of BBL.”
The next big Pommy thing in David Willey has also signed on to play, instead of joining the English Lions.
Scorchers coach Justin Langer said the big hitting Willey, who in 2015 opened both the bowling and batting in T20 cricket at Northamptonshire, was a “really good package”.
“David Willey is an up and coming, hungry, hard-working young player who will hopefully provide with some power hitting in the middle overs,” Langer said.
“He offers left arm swing bowling and has showed how well he can do that against the Australians in the one-dayers a few months ago.
”He’s also a gun fielder and is renowned for his work ethic and character.
“On some of the other grounds, he might be a power hitter we can use up the front of the innings as well.
“It’s a really good package.”
The Hurricanes are a popular pick every season, but failed to even make it to the finals, despite being one of the favourites last season.
And there will be a bit of a changing of the guard in Hobart, with gun wicket keeper batsman Tim Paine set to take over the captaincy by Australiain gun George Bailey.
Bailey has stood down due to national duty and his 30 year old successor, who has played four Tests for Australia, is ready to step up to the challenge.
“I’m happy to be leading the boys in purple in BBL 05 and I can’t wait for the team to come together in December in the build up to the tournament,” Paine said.
“We have a really strong team and we are keen to put on a show for members and fans.”
Bailey should get a few games in throughout the season, but reckons the team is in safe hands with Paine.
“Tim is extremely capable and ready to lead the Hurricanes,” Bailey said.
“We have worked closely over a number of years and he is going to be a great leader of our team.” Sri Lankan living legend Kumar Sangakkarra makes them a contender alone, while lightning fast tower of power Shaun Tait will lead a bowling attack that features multi talented West Indian Darren Sammy.
And the Renegades have a pair of spin twins to join West Indians Dwayne Bravo and Chris Gayle to lead their charge.
Nathan Hauritz and Xavier Doherty will bring international experience to a side that lost Fawad Ahmed, but has re-signed fast man James Pattinson to a three year contract extension.
Renegades head coach David Saker said Hauritz and Doherty would provide a potent spinning attack on the turning Etihad Stadium wicket.
“The combination of having Nathan and Xavier Doherty as the right and left arm spinners was something we think can work for us this season – particularly at Etihad Stadium,” Saker said. “Nathan brings years of experience to the side and he’ll be an important influence around the group.”
2015 KFC Big Bash League tournament winner markets
Melbourne Stars ($4.75 with WilliamHill.com.au)
Perth Scorchers ($5.50)
Hobart Hurricanes ($6.50)
Melbourne Renegades ($6.50)
Adelaide Strikers ($7)
Sydney Sixers ($8)
Sydney Thunder ($8)
Brisbane Heat ($9)
Odds provided by WilliamHill.com.au
2015 KFC T20 Big Bash League tournament top run scorer markets
Chris Gayle ($8)
Kevin Pietersen ($10)
Michael Klinger ($11)
Aaron Finch ($13)
Shane Watson ($13)
Ben Dunk ($15)
Shaun Marsh ($15)
Chris Lynn ($15)
Kumar Sangakkara ($15)
Luke Wright ($15)
Nic Maddinson ($15)
Brendon McCullum ($17)
Michael Lumb ($17)
Cameron White ($17)
Usman Khawaja ($18)
Jacques Kallis ($19)
Tim Ludeman ($19)
Tim Paine ($21)
Travis Head ($21)
Craig Simmons ($23)
Matthew Wade ($23)
Joe Burns ($26)
Marcus Stoinis ($26)
Odds provided by Sportsbet.com.au
2015 KFC T20 Big Bash League tournament top wicket taker markets
Samuel Badree ($8)
Jason Behrendorff ($11 with Sportsbet.com.au)
Ben Laughlin ($11)
John Hastings ($13)
Gurinder Sandhu ($13)
James Pattinson ($13)
Brad Hogg ($15)
Dwayne Bravo ($17)
Nathan Coulter-Nile ($21)
Josh Hazlewood ($21)
Cameron Boyce ($21)
James Faulkner ($21)
Pat Cummins ($23)
Andrew Fekete ($23)
Mitchell Starc ($26)
Kane Richardson ($26)
Andrew Tye ($26)
Scott Boland ($26)
Adam Zampa ($26)
Odds provided by Sportsbet.com.au
2015 KFC T20 Big Bash League tournament round one odds
Sydney Thunder ($2.30) vs. Sydney Sixers ($1.60)
Adelaide Strikers ($2.10) vs. Melbourne Stars ($1.70)
Brisbane Heat ($2) vs. Melbourne Renegades ($1.80)
Sydney Sixers ($1.60) vs. Hobart Hurricanes ($2.30)
Melbourne Stars ($1.40) vs. Sydney Thunder ($2.90)
Perth Scorchers ($1.65) vs. Adelaide Strikers ($2.20)
Odds provided by Sportsbet.com.au
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