In one of our recent reviews of the Big Bash League, we noted that many of the ‘best’ Australians (a term comparable to ‘warmest iceberg’) have now left the competition to play for the national side. Whereas in lesser competitions these gaps would have been unfilled, the fact that the BBL is the least-worst T20 tournament around means that some Galacticos have been recruited, players who are unequivocally sexier, more famous and just plain better than those they’re replacing. Step forward, Alex Hales and Adrian Dmitri Mascarenhas.
On debut for Melbourne Renegades, the Nottinghamshire and England man smashed 89 runs at a strike rate of over 170. His new side finished top of the table and thus should be favourites to win the giant bucket of fried chicken that is awarded as a trophy. Meanwhile, Mascarenhas only scored one run for Melbourne Stars, but he did take two wickets. The Stars have also qualified for the semi-finals. Before this, the Hampshire six-hitting supremo had played a couple of matches for New Zealand’s Wellington, matches in which his contribution was so un-noteworthy that we’re going to move on and laugh at Matt Prior (which is something we never thought we’d say, and something we promise never to do again). Playing for the hopeless Sydney Thunder, Prior’s run of scores are 17, 4, 4 and 7. At least he’s no doubt picked up a nice suntan.
Another of England’s globetrotters is playing for the other Sydney team – the slightly less hopeless Sixers. We do sometimes question the point of Michael Lumb on this site, and his scores of 34, 20, 61* and 21 are characteristically not bad, just not hugely inspiring. Someone else who can be filed under ‘meh’ is Owais Shah, whose cramped, twitched and juddered his way to 138 runs from eight innings for the Hobart Hurricanes, which to put it another way, is worse than both Glenn Maxwell and Dan Christian. The final Englishman who has been in the BBL – and who previously had been tearing shit up – is Luke Wright. After a brief interlude of playing for England in India, Wright has returned to the Stars and knocked 69 runs from three innings.
Of course, wintering abroad is not just about the Big Bash. Other tournaments do exist, just with fewer endorsements from KFC. For example, Phil Mustard is playing for Auckland in the HRV Cup. His run of scores is remarkable: 0, 14, 97*, 0, 0, 13 and 2, i.e. exactly the kind of form that has made Craig Kieswetter a permanent member of the England team. Before reporting for international duty in India, Chris Woakes had also been playing down under (and to the right a bit). In his last two matches for Wellington, he only took one wicket, but did make a final innings of 55* from 28 balls.
The two lesser lights in New Zealand are Steven Croft and Peter Trego. The former had started superbly for Northern Districts, but his form seems to have dropped off slightly, with only one score in excess of 22 in his last five innings. However, he is the fourth leading run-scorer in the HRV Cup, (top being the legendary Jesse Ryder). The Somerset man however, has been less successful for Central Districts. He has scored just 21 runs in three T20 games (but taking four wickets), and in the first-class competition he averages 36.75 with the bat and 50.66 with the ball.
Last and least, to Zimbabwe. Moeen Ali appears to have gone missing, but Mark Pettini is still plodding away for Mountaineers. In the Pro50 Championship he recently made 85*, whilst his scores in the T20s have been consistent if not spectacular (31, 49 and 24). A place on the 51allout England Ladder seems somewhat unlikely.