Was Dwayne Bravo of the Stars a success or a disappointment in BBL|08?
Was Dwayne Bravo of the Stars a success or a disappointment in BBL|08?

SuperCoach BBL|08 Review: Melbourne Stars

The Melbourne Stars appeared to be cruising to their first Big Bash League championship against the Melbourne Renegades at 0/93, chasing 146 for victory, needing about a run a ball in the remaining five overs to claim victory.

Then disaster struck, panic set in, and before they knew it the dream was over; they had gifted glory to their cross-town rivals, as a bumper crowd in excess of 40,000 cheered the 'Gades home at their Marvel Stadium home ground.

Despite this cruellest of finishes to a season, to go from last in BBL|07 to second in BBL|08 was quite an achievement, particularly so given that at the middle stage of the season the Stars were missing all of Marcus Stoinis, Glenn Maxwell, Adam Zampa, and Peter Handscomb to the Australian short-form set-up as well as Nepalese spin sensation Sandeep Lamichhane to the Bangladesh Premier League T20 domestic competition.


Sandeep Lamichhane of the Stars was a sensation
Sandeep Lamichhane of the Stars was a sensation

Top 5 players

  1. Marcus Stoinis - BAT / BWL - 96.9 average points per game
  2. Sandeep Lamichhane - BWL - 61.4
  3. Glenn Maxwell - BAT / BWL - 60.8
  4. Liam Plunkett - BWL - 54.1
  5. Dwayne Bravo - BAT / BWL - 51.2

Clearly the stand-out performer this season, Marcus Stoinis was massive for the Stars, particularly with bat and occasionally with the ball. He regularly hit or cleared the boundary, smashing 47 4s and ten 6s on his way to averaging 54.89 with the bat at a Strike Rate of 133.51. In addition, he claimed 14 wickets with 59 dot balls from just 150 balls bowled, averaging a miserly 14.80 runs per wicket, albeit at a high Strike Rate of 8.28. He was Player of the Match in a third of his 12 appearances, and it was no wonder his SuperCoach average was over 35 points per game higher than his nearest teammate.

Sandeep Lamichhane was an incredible find for the Stars, and what they wouldn't have given to have had him available for the full campaign. At season conclusion he had played seven games, claiming 11 wickets at a miserly 6.97 Strike Rate and an average of 16.30, with 68 dots from 154 balls bowled. He regularly bamboozled facing batsmen with his thrilling leg-spin and looms as one of the most in-demand signatures for the BBL|09 season. Replaced by English speedster Liam Plunkett whilst he was playing in the BPL, the Stars would have loved to have had both these imports available at the same time.

Glenn Maxwell's leadership as the BBL|08 season came to a conclusion was a key part of the Stars' ride to the Final, with his batting, bowling, and field placements against first the Sydney Sixers then the Hobart Hurricanes absolutely superb. He lead the way and had exactly the sort of season that he needed to have ahead of the ODI World Cup in England later in 2019, showcasing that his experience and nous will prove invaluable to Australia no matter where he comes in in the order.

Dwayne Bravo might have finished fifth overall in the SuperCoach scoring averages for the Stars, but it's arguable that he could just as easily slide into the top 5 disappointments list. Brought in from his cross-town rivals, he really only had a couple of standout moments and too regularly failed with the bat, with his run-out against the Sixers in the final regular season game absolutely comical.

Was Dwayne Bravo of the Stars a success or a disappointment in BBL|08?
Was Dwayne Bravo of the Stars a success or a disappointment in BBL|08?

Top 5 disappointments

  1. Evan Gulbis - BAT / BWL - 16.3 average points per game
  2. Nic Maddinson - BAT - 21.3
  3. Seb Gotch - BAT - 25.5
  4. Ben Dunk - WKP / BAT - 35.1
  5. Peter Handscomb - WKP / BAT - 41.6

While their averages were low for their number of appearances, it's hard to place fault in Evan Gulbis' and Seb Gotch's appearances for the Stars - quite simply, they didn't get to the crease all that often with bat or ball, with Gulbis facing just 71 balls from seven innings, two of which he was not out in. Gotch appeared in one more innings, finishing with three not-outs, and 126 runs from 108 balls. Gulbis also bowled a mere three overs in his 12 games, failing to claim a wicket.

Nic Maddinson was unfortunate in that just as he made his maiden century for Victoria he suffered a broken arm, curtailing his inaugural campaign for his new home State and delaying the start to his Big Bash campaign for his new side. In the end, he suited up ten times, getting to the crease in all but one, but with a high score of 19 and a total of 109 runs made from 110 balls at an average sub-20, it was a disastrous debut for the Stars for Maddinson.

Making the Final, there's little doubt Ben Dunk enjoyed the second year of his long-term deal with the Stars more than his debut in green in BBL|07. Statistically, it wasn't much improved. He nearly doubled his average runs per innings, but going from 11.50 to 20.36 is hardly thrilling. His outstanding innings in Moe aside, it was another disappointing season for Dunk.

Switching between multiple formats - Test, ODI, and T20 - must be a tough ask for any player, and it was no surprise to see that Pete Handscomb's form was up and down. When he teed off, he struck it sweet - his Strike Rate of 130.41 from his eight appearances was great, and he was calm behind the stumps, taking three catches and executing two stumpings. Expect him to have Dual Position Player status in SuperCoach in BBL|09.

Top 5 individual performances

  1. Marcus Stoinis - Round 9 - 199 points vs Melbourne Renegades
  2. Marcus Stoinis - Round 4 - 194 points vs Melbourne Renegades
  3. Glenn Maxwell - Round 13 - 184 points vs Sydney Sixers
  4. Marcus Stoinis - Round 10 - 122 points vs Adelaide Strikers
  5. Sandeep Lamichhane - Round 13 - 153 points vs Sydney Sixers
Ben Dunk had another season where he couldn’t quite go to another gear
Ben Dunk had another season where he couldn’t quite go to another gear

Looking ahead to BBL|09

The priority signing for the Melbourne Stars must be Sandeep Lamichhane. Spinners really came to the fore in BBL|08 - there was the continued excellence of Steve O'Keefe at the Sydney Sixers and Adelaide Strikers' Rashid Khan, his fellow Afghanis 17-year old Mujeeb Ur Rahman debuting strongly in Brisbane and 18-year old Qais Ahmad coming out of nowhere at the end of the season for the Hurricanes. The latter vies with Nepalese 18-year old Lamichhane may loom as the hottest prospect - particularly if they play an entire season - in BB|09.

The conflict between the domestic T20 league and international commitments will once again put the Stars in a bind in future seasons. They definitely want the likes of Stoinis, Maxwell, Zampa, and Handscomb as part of their squad, but the depth needs a lot of work - whereas exciting local youngsters debuted at seemingly every other outfit, the Stars were very reliant upon their experienced foursome. With the likes of Maddinson, Dunk and Bravo not exactly firing on all cylinders, they need some more emerging players - particularly with the willow - to place pressure upon underperforming experienced players. The Stars could also do with a bit of luck with injury, with Maddinson and quick Dan Worrall having delayed starts to their campaigns.

Speaking of which, the question has to be asked - was Ben Dunk's long-term contract a mistake? The Stars must've thought they had secured a reliable performer at the top of the order when they poached him from the Strikers, where in his final season of BBL|06 he struck three 50s on his way to an average of 52 with a Strike Rate of 163.96. Suffice to say, no such heroics for the Stars in his two seasons in green, and the rising 32-year old will need a big BBL|09 season to justify his opening batting position.