England are set to get a busy year of cricket underway tomorrow in Sri Lanka as they start the first of two behind-closed-doors Test matches in Galle but before we shift our focus completely to that, it’s time to cast our eyes down under to the Big Bash League.
Five weeks into the competition and the Sydney Sixers have, fittingly, opened up a six-point gap at the top of the table with their city rivals the Thunder in second, while down the bottom the Melbourne Renegades struggles have continued.
But which England players have stood out over the past two weeks?
Alex Hales (323 runs @ 32.30)
The opener is deserving of a place on our list for a third consecutive week as his blistering form with the bat has continued.
Only Josh Phillipe has scored more runs than Hales’ 323 in this year’s competition and he has shown no sign of slowing down either.
The right-hander has surpassed 40 three times in his five innings since the turn of the year and has got people talking about a potential return to the England side.
Jason Roy (212 runs @ 42.40)
One issue Hales may face is that we’re not short of top-order talent, as Roy’s recent form shows.
Having arrived late, the opener has wasted no time in showcasing his quality. He’s now made more than 200 runs in his six innings for the Perth Scorchers in this year’s competition and has the third-highest average of any player to surpass that milestone.
Roy’s brilliant 74 against the Hobart Hurricanes yesterday was yet another reminder of his quality.
Sam Billings (137 runs @ 27.40 and 9 dismissals)
On the back of a hugely impressive international summer, Billings has arrived in Australia full of confidence and his performances for the Sydney Thunder over the past fortnight have reflected that.
A valiant 83 from 48 balls in a losing effort has been his highlight with the bat, while his glovework has been simply outstanding – he has taken six catches and three stumpings leaving him just two short of Josh Phillipe in terms of total dismissals in this year’s tournament.
Jake Ball (5/152)
Another late arrival, Ball has proven the Sixers made the right move by selecting him as a replacement for Tom Curran.
The pace bowler has taken five wickets in his four games over the past fortnight, including 3/25 in a win against the Brisbane Heat.
The 29-year-old will be looking to continue his bright start and serve the selectors a reminder of his quality over the next few weeks.
Dawid Malan (175 runs @ 29.16)
The world’s number one T20I batsman announced himself in the BBL in style at the start of 2021, hitting 75 from 56 balls as he helped the Hobart Hurricanes blow away the Melbourne Stars.
His quality has quickly shone through and will likely be key if his side are to climb the table over the next few weeks.
What about everyone else?
Danny Briggs has been a regular fixture in the Adelaide Strikers side in what has been an impressive debut BBL season so far (8/223 and 47 runs at 23.5), while the experienced James Vince (203 runs @ 22.55) has continued to show his quality for the Sixers.
One of the latecomers, Lewis Gregory (96 runs @ 42 and 6/186) has continued his strong tournament with both bat and ball for the Brisbane Heat, as has the Perth Scorchers’ Liam Livingstone (123 @ 20.5 and 1/13) though he’s had fewer chances to bowl.
Phil Salt (221 runs @ 22.10) has quickly established himself as a key man in the Adelaide Striker’s batting lineup, with scores of 31 and 59 in his last two games helping him take his total for the tournament past the 200 mark.
Opportunities have been hard to come by for Joe Clarke (44 runs @ 14.66) at the Perth Scorchers over the past fortnight, as they have for the Hobart Hurricanes’ Will Jacks (44 runs @ 11 and 0/13), and Benny Howell (0/36) at the Melbourne Renegades.