Sports

The Big Bash League finals have arrived! Here’s what you need to know

The Aussie cricket season has almost reached its conclusion, but the BBL champion is yet to be decided. Let’s dive into the upcoming finals series.

The BBL regular season has reached its conclusion and now’s the time to play for keeps. The five teams advancing to the finals series will duke it out for a chance to become champions of the Big Bash League’s tenth season.

So let’s take a closer look at each team and their chances, plus find out how this five-way playoff system works.

Chris Lynn, BBL

Five-way playoffs?

Yep, it’s weird. Usually, even numbers are the way to go for deciding who’s going meet in the final match. Look at most major sporting tournaments around the world and this is usually par for the course.

In the BBL, however, there are only eight teams. It would be logical to expect a ‘top four’ semi-finals structure, which the league has favoured in past. But this can be slightly disadvantageous to the first-ranked team that has dominated throughout the season. They only have to have one bad night and all the good work of the season is out the window…

With the BBL’s five-team setup, the top two teams can still lose the first game of finals series and still have a chance to bounce back.

How it works

In the first round of games, fourth-place Brisbane Heat will take on the fifth-place Adelaide Strikers in the Eliminator on this Friday, January 29. Whoever loses this one is out. See you next summer.

Also in the first round of matches is the Qualifier between first-place Sydney Sixers and second-place Perth Scorchers on Saturday, January 30. The loser lives to fight another day, the winner goes straight the Final.

The winner of the Eliminator will go onto meet the third-place Sydney Thunder in the Knockout on Sunday, January 31. The winner of that match will go on meet the loser of the Qualifier in the Challenger match on Thursday, February 4, for a chance to play in the Final on Saturday, February 6. Still clear as mud? Check out Cricket Australia’s handy explainer video below.

The teams

Adelaide Strikers

In fifth place, the Adelaide Strikers have just scraped into finals this year. A former champion team, they’re used to playing in high-pressure games and have some seasoned campaigners to call upon. But superstar Afghan allrounder Rashid Khan (aka the best T20 player in the world) was a big loss for them midway through the season.

Batter to watch: Alex Carey. He’s the only player to score a century thus far in BBL10 and can hit the ball a long, long way.

Bowler to watch: Wes Agar. He’s right up there with the leading wicket-takers of the season.

Wes Agar

Brisbane Heat

Their form throughout the season — and basically throughout the history of the BBL — has been patchy, but they are in possession of some serious weapons. They have the capacity to dominate matches, but it’s just a matter of which Brisbane Heat team will turn up on the night.

Batter to watch: Chris Lynn. Now a veteran and carrying injuries, but seems to be peaking at just the right time.

Bowler to watch: Mark Steketee. Coming into his prime as a fearsome fast bowler and the Heat’s leading wicket-taker this season

Mark Steketee

Sydney Thunder

All-in-all, Sydney Thunder would probably be a little disappointed to be in third. They were on target for a top-two finish for most of the season, but recent inconsistency (losing three of the last five games) has seen them hit the finals series out of form.

Batter to watch: Alex Hales. The Thunder batting lineup is all-class, but Hales has the acceleration to be a game-changer.

Bowler to watch: Tanveer Sangha. The prodigious 19-year-old spinner has got the job done time and again this season, breaking vital partnerships at important times. The finals series could be made for him.

Perth Scorchers

A classic BBL team, the Scorchers were nigh-on unbeatable in the early years of the competition. This year, they got off to a bad start, but have stormed through the second half of the season to finish just behind the Sixers.

Batter to watch: Jason Roy. A brutal, yet creative top-order batter, who can dominate an innings from start to finish.

Bowler to watch: Jhye Richardson. With 27 wickets this seasons, it’s daylight between him and his closest rival. Seriously fast.

Jason Roy

Sydney Sixers

Along with the Scorchers, the Sixers are part of the BBL establishment. Aside from a few bad seasons, they have always been competitive. In BBL10, they started hot and have kept it up throughout the whole campaign.

Batter to watch: Jordan Silk. Coming of age this season, he’s been crucial in icing games from the middle order.

Bowler to watch: Sean Abbott. Batting, fielding and bowling at a cracking pace, he can do it all. And he’ll need to if the Sixers are going to win the league this year.

Jordan Silk