After another scintillating Big Bash, the Aussie league has clearly established itself as the No2, if not the No1 T20 tournament on earth.
Big crowds, 12,462 runs, 443 sixes and 325 catches it has been non-stop thrills per minute – and the 2017-18 season has also seen the emergence of some great talent including the remarkable Territorian D’arcy Short and teenage Afghan leggie Rashid Khan, who spun opposing bats into a twist.
Here are our picks for the top five BBL stars of the year, including one veteran who just won’t go away.
D’arcy Short (Hobart Hurricanes)
It’s been a meteoric rise for the young indigenous bat from WA. He is the top scorer in this year’s BBL with 504 runs, at a scarcely believable strike rate of 147.8, including a freakish 122no from just 69 balls against the Brisbane Heat. His outstanding form has seen him snared by Rajasthan Royals in the IPL and selected for his T20I international debut.
Alex Carey (Adelaide Strikers)
The 26-year-old South Australian is a rare athlete, captaining the GWS Giants AFL club in 2010 before returning to Adelaide to carve a cricketing career. 2017-18 has been a breakout year as the keeper notched up 425 runs (strike rate 143.09) with his first century, 100 exactly, coming against Hobart Hurricanes. This knock saw him flown to the Gabba two days later to make his ODI and soon after he was named in Australia’s T201 squad for the Trans Tasman Series.
Shane Watson (Sydney Thunder)
The much maligned all-rounder is surely reaching the twilight of his career but he refuses to slip quietly away. In an underperforming Thunder side the 36-year-old still totaled 331 runs at a strike rate of 139.07. His bowling was expensive (three wickets at 9.51 per over) but he still did enough to see the Chennai Super Kings fork out the tidy sum of Dh2.8m
Travis Head (Adelaide Strikers)
His ODI form for Australia in the recent England series was not great but in the BBL the 24-year-old was at his best, guiding his beloved Strikers to their first ever BBL final. He scored 330 runs in just eight matches at an average of 47.14 with a strike rate of 130.95. His superb 85 in the semi-final was crucial to Adelaide getting home by a single run against the Renegades.
Rashid Khan (Adelaide Strikers)
The 19-year-old Afghan leggie has had a dream debut in the BBL, topping the bowling stats in most wickets (18) and best economy rate (5.65) in what some are calling the greatest BBL ever by a bowler. Unfortunately he won’t play in the final as he is in Sharjah with his national team taking on Zimbabwe. Can Adelaide still do the business without the spin wiz?
Ben Stokes has been included in England’s one-day squad to face New Zealand “subject to any court obligations”, the England and Wales cricket Board has announced.
The England all-rounder has not played since police launched an investigation into an incident outside a Bristol nightclub in September.
He has since been charged with affray, which he denies, and is due in court later this month.
Stokes missed England’s 4-0 Ashes defeat to Australia and the 4-1 ODI series victory against the same opponents.
The England ODI squad to face New Zealand:
Eoin Morgan (Middlesex, capt.)
Moeen Ali (Worcestershire)
Jonny Bairstow (Yorkshire)
Sam Billings (Kent)
Jos Buttler (Lancashire)
Tom Curran (Surrey)
Alex Hales (Nottinghamshire)
Liam Plunkett (Yorkshire)
Adil Rashid (Yorkshire)
Joe Root (Yorkshire)
Jason Roy (Surrey)
Ben Stokes (Durham)
David Willey (Yorkshire)
Chris Woakes (Warwickshire)
Mark Wood (Durham)
Former Pakistan captain Salman Butt has said he played in the T20 league in Ajman and is happy that it’s being investigated by the International Cricket Council (ICC) after realising there “were a lot of flaws”.
On Tuesday, the ICC opened a probe into the T20 Ajman All Stars League, which was played last month after a video went viral on the internet.
In a series of clips from one match, televised on Neo Sports, batsmen, who have not been identified, appear to deliberately get themselves dismissed when attempting to run between wickets.
ECB confirmed the tournament was not “approved” and sanctioned by either themselves or the Ajman Cricket Council.
Butt, who served a five-year ban between 2010-16 for match-fixing, confirmed he played in two matches of the league.
“I went there as I was not picked for the national regions one-day cup by Lahore and I was doing nothing. But when I reached there I realised it was just an amateur level event which had no match referee, ICC anti-corruption representative or even scorers,” Butt told PTI.
“Since the spot-fixing scandal, I try to stay away as far as possible from any related controversies. I am happy the ICC is investigating the event because they were lot of flaws in it. But I played just two games and than went away to Dubai.”
He added: “They told me it was a private tournament and not sanctioned so no NOC was required to play. When I went there I realised it was just a badly managed street level event and it made no sense to me.”
Meanwhile, ECB board member Zayed Abbas reiterated they will always have a strong stance and not tolerate any suspicious activities in the UAE.
“There’s nothing I can add to this. I don’t know what to say because this was unsanctioned cricket and not approved by Emirates Cricket Board,” he said. “Once we found out, we highlighted it and reported it to the ICC.
This is unbelievable........ https://t.co/pojcPZaiak— Michael Vaughan (@MichaelVaughan) January 30, 2018
“When this incident happened, we took the right action and informed the authority and that was the ICC. This is the action we will continue to take every time. That’s the same as what any other cricket board would do.”
The Ajman Ovals, where the matches were played, is now longer affiliated to Ajman Cricket Council and Abbas reiterated it’s up to the Cricket Councils to be responsible for any matches played in their Emirate.
“The domestic tournaments are held under the Emirates Cricket Board. Some of the tournaments are done privately by private ground owners or organisations. Some of these things (unsanctioned cricket) keep on happening,” Abbas added.
“This one became a big issue because it was televised on some networks. Our authorities are already aware of this and the Cricket Councils are the ones responsible for cricket in their Emirate. Ajman Cricket Council took action with the rules being clear.”