The 2014 edition of Australia’s Big Bash League is at an end, with the Perth Scorchers celebrating winning the tournament after beating the Hobart Hurricanes by 39 runs in the final in Perth.
Now the BBL is over after plenty of big hitting and explosive bowling featuring some of the best Twenty20 players from around Australia and the world.
Before we look ahead, let’s first reflect on the league as a whole and see which teams and individuals can count themselves as winners, and which can count themselves as losers.
All stats courtesy of ESPNCricinfo.
Having been beaten finalists in the first two editions of the BBL, it must be a relief for the Perth Scorchers to finally be victorious, especially on their home ground of the WACA.
The Scorchers have been incredibly consistent in reaching all three finals of the BBL, and their first tournament win is a superb achievement.
It is a great achievement to win what has been a testing tournament, especially after a rather inconsistent start in the group stage.
The Melbourne Stars dominated the group stage of this year’s BBL, finishing top of the table and did not look like losing a game.
However, when they reached the knockout stages they were defeated by the Hobart Hurricanes by seven wickets in what was the biggest upset of the tournament.
Because of the format of the BBL, the Stars will now not be able to represent the tournament in the next Champions League Twenty20, due to be held in South Africa later this year.
The Stars have reached the semi-finals in all three BBL seasons, but they have never reached the Champions League T20 despite such consistency in the league.
On the basis of this tournament, there are a number of Australians with plenty to offer on the cricket field despite their advancing years.
He was only the second man to go past 300 runs in the tournament, helping the Scorchers reach the final.
The evergreen Mike Hussey also showed he still has what it takes to dominate opposition bowling attacks in the shortest form of the game.
The Sydney Thunder captain enjoyed the occasion once again and may well force his way back into Sheffield Shield cricket with Western Australia, per the Sydney Morning Herald.
It is easy to forget that White once captained Australia in this format, was touted as their next great all-rounder and a possible successor to Shane Warne.
Now, revitalised at the top of the order, White was brought back by his country after a number of hard-hitting displays as a BBL opener.
Even better, in Australian colours he did not score less than 41 in any of the three games as the hosts whitewashed England in the T20 series.
For so long regarded as one of the unluckiest batsmen in Australia as he found himself behind players of the calibre of Ricky Ponting, Damien Martyn and Mike Hussey, could Hodge’s time finally have arrived?
Only time will tell for the 39-year-old.
Last year, the Brisbane Heat squeaked into the knockout stage by virtue of their superior net run-rate in what was a very close competition.
The Heat went on to beat the Perth Scorchers in the final by 34 runs to take their first ever BBL title, and they went on to be one of Australia’s representatives in the subsequent Champions League T20.
This year, the Heat had an incredibly talented and experienced squad, and they would have been hoping for a similar showing this year.
However they ended up falling just short, one point outside the knockout places and so unable to defend their title from last year, which desperately disappointing.
Before this tournament, 31-year-old Craig Simmons had struggled to make much of an impact in Australian state cricket.
Having represented New South Wales and Western Australia, he had managed just one half century in the Sheffield Shield and only two more in the Ryobi Cup.
He hadn’t had the best time of it in this year’s BBL for the Perth Scorchers, being dismissed in single figures in all three of his previous innings.
However, he exploded against the Adelaide Strikers to make 102 from just 41 balls before being removed by Jon Holland in the 12th over.
His effort now sits at No. 7 in the list of fastest Twenty20 centuries of all time, and it means his name will forever be immortalised in the record books.
However, Simmons wasn’t done there, as he hit 112 against the Sydney Sixers in their semi-final to power the Scorchers to 193-5 from their 20 overs.
Perth went on to win by just five runs thanks to the Duckworth/Lewis method, and without Simmons’ 58-ball innings they would have struggled enormously.
Simmons goes to prove that even the most ordinary state players can be world-beaters in the BBL.
This year’s BBL has been longer than the previous two editions for a number of reasons, and it can be said that the tournament itself has suffered because of it.
A gap of a week was introduced just before the finals stage to make room for the three Twenty20 Internationals and allow players to represent Australia and England.
However, this week has meant that attendance was well down in the first semi-final, with just 12,000 people coming to the MCG, per The Roar.
This lengthened schedule is also exacerbated by the addition of an eighth round to allow extra inter-city matches as local derbies.
If these extra games were removed so teams played each other once, the schedule could become far more condensed and we could avoid a situation where a semi-final has a very small attendance.
The BBL could also consider days that have more than one fixture—a system that works well in the Indian Premier League—and so could make things much more compact.
This year’s BBL wasn’t just a good place for senior players to show they still have the ability to compete, it also showed that there are a number of good young Australians ready to challenge for international spots.
Ben Dunk of the Hobart Hurricanes missed all of last year’s BBL, but he came roaring back this time with 348 runs as an opener at an average of 49.71.
The 26-year-old was named the player of the tournament and after a succession of solid performances at the top of the order may well put some pressure on for an international call-up.
Meanwhile, seamer Josh Hazlewood has been highly rated by Cricket Australia for some time and impressed yet again in this year’s BBL.
He was rewarded for his form with a call-up to Australia’s T20 squad for their series against England, and he showed some promise in his two matches.
His 4-30 in Sydney was key in helping stymie England’s batting effort, and he showed he has plenty to offer in international cricket.
Another to impress in the BBL was Chris Lynn, whose 198 runs in the tournament propelled the 23-year-old into Australia’s recent T20 squad.
He showed his potential in the first match in Hobart with 33 not out, a just reward for what was an encouraging BBL campaign.
With 11 players present in the BBL this year, England were the best represented international team and were hopeful of their players hitting form in time for their T20 series against Australia.
Expectations were high as Luke Wright, Ravi Bopara and Craig Kieswetter all looked in form, while it was hoped that Eoin Morgan and Alex Hales would peak at the right time.
However, it did not quite work out that way, as those who represented England looked very much second-best to their Australian counterparts across all three fixtures.
Wright especially had promised much with his 288 runs, but he failed every time at the top of the order as England floundered in the shortest form.
Having so many English players in the BBL was a nice idea and while it did not quite work out this time, perhaps it could set a precedent for future English involvement in other T20 tournaments.
It took them 20 games, and 753 days, but the Sydney Thunder finally won a game of Twenty20 cricket when they defeated the Melbourne Renegades by nine wickets.
Their last victory had come in the 2011-12 BBL against the Adelaide Strikers, thanks in large part to Chris Gayle’s unbeaten century to lead them home by six wickets.
It ended a two-year losing streak, in which time Australia had three Prime Ministers, and in the end it was rather comfortable as the Renegades were bowled out for 104.
In reply, the Thunder went past that total for the loss of just one wicket, thanks to Tillakaratne Dilshan’s 46 and Usman Khawaja’s 46 not out.
It may have been the only game they won in this year’s BBL, but it was an enormous relief for the Thunder to get that particular monkey off their backs.