Season in a nutshell
A lot of hype, a lot of money spent and ultimately an even more acute case of the same old Brisbane Heat problems. When the Heat unveiled AB de Villiers after last year’s Ashes series, much to the delight of their new coach Darren Lehmann, many installed them as tournament favourites without a second thought. But in this case, some second thoughts would have been useful, as the high profile signing simply added more to the club’s “crash through or crash” approach, as championed by their captain Chris Lynn and Brendon McCullum before him. Undoubtedly it helps bring in the crowds at the Gabba, but a poor record on their home ground has been key to repeated failures to contend for the BBL title. Add this campaign, sluggish at the start and fidgety at the finish, to the list.
What went right?
On the few occasions the Heat did get things right, they were undoubtedly a bewitching combination. Victories over the Sydney Sixers at the SCG and Hobart Hurricanes at Bellerive Oval reaped tallies of more than 200, while de Villiers’ arrival was greeted by a summary thrashing of the Adelaide Strikers in Brisbane. However…
What went wrong?
Not even the bottom-placed Melbourne Renegades could boast as many catastrophic defeats, starting with a limp opening loss to the Thunder on the tournament’s opening night. Elsewhere, the Heat were crushed in Adelaide and Perth, and only two home wins out of seven matches made for a damaging ledger. But the Heat’s imbalanced squad and muddled approach was best exemplified by the fact that they lost twice to the Renegades, at home and away, after de Villiers joined them. For Lehmann it was a humbling return to coaching after the cultural malaise of the Australian team on his watch. Lynn, who ended the tournament all but calling for a show of hands to make bowling changes in the closing defeat at Docklands, looks unlikely to remain captain.
Performance of the season
It is difficult to separate two displays, at the SCG and Bellerive, where Lynn went off with scores of 94 and 88 – 182 runs from 90 balls in all – to pile-drive his team to victories. But these were the exceptions that proved the rule, as he tallied just 205 more runs from his remaining 12 innings at an average of 18.64 and a far more modest strike rate.
Player of the season
Tom Banton‘s impact was plain in his brief early stay, topping the Heat’s averages and strike rates. However, in a difficult season, the continued improvement of Mitchell Swepson was perhaps the most positive element of the campaign, after he had made similar strides for Queensland in the Sheffield Shield. In fact, an economy rate of 7.32 opened up questions about why he only played 10 matches, and in those only bowled 31 of his allocated 40 overs.
Key stat (Gaurav Sundararaman)
One of their biggest pain points was their inability to play spin. The Heat lost 46 wickets to spin (48.4%) and averaged just 20.78, the lowest in the league. That’s 16 more wickets lost to spin than any other BBL side this season.