Sunday 5 December, 8.35am
Ed Hawkins bemoans the Big Bash 'farce' as Heat desperately try to find a team for the action in Geelong on Thursday...
"They could also be bolstered by the eventual return of Travis Head and Alex Carey in time for the play-offs"
Melbourne Renegades v Brisbane Heat
Thursday 6 January 07.00
TV: live on BT Sport
Brisbane Heat's match with the Sydney Sixers was postponed at the last-minute on Wednesday as the Heat were unable to field a team due to Covid. This fixture could still go ahead, however.
Those who are well enough have flown to Melbourne. It is unclear how many players short of the required 13-man squad Heat are but considering it has been reported that at least 12 players are isolating it will be a hotch-potch contingent of club cricketers, also-rans, has-beens and never-will-be's.
Fakhar Zaman, the Pakistan international, was thought to be set to debut in the Sixers clash. He may well have nothing to beat for top Heat bat.
Renegades have one Covid case in their camp so they should be fine to put together a squad - for now. In time, however, they could be in a similar situation. Training was cancelled following the positive test.
They beat a Covid-ravaged Stars last time out in the clearest indication yet that the tournament has become a farce. Renegades, who had won only five of their previous 20, shouldn't celebrate too hard. It appears they have found their level.
Reece Topley will definitely not be involved. He has been called back to England to ensure all players are fit and healthy for the forthcoming tour of West Indies. His spot is likely to go to all-rounder Will Sutherland who has an economy of ten this season.
There have been only three matches in the Bash in the last three years at Geelong. Renegades lost each of them. Last January Perth defended 178 while in 2019 Thunder chased 169 and Strikers defended 158.
And as if we needed any more grey areas to deal with after the team news and limited pitch info, the weather forecast is poor. Thunderstorms are expected in the afternoon and evening. It would not be a surprise if this was a reduced-overs affair if they make the field at all.
Strikers could be boosted
Renegades are 1.412/5, which is the sort of price you would expect given that Heat are expected to field a club-grade team.
With Covid rampant, however, we have to start taking an interest in the outright market. Could Renegades even be a bit of value at 34.033/1 to continue to take advantage of weakened teams?
One team which really stands out is Adelaide Strikers, who beat Hobart Hurricanes on Wednesday. They are priced at 40.039/1and have a good chance of making the top five. They could also be bolstered by the eventual return of Travis Head and Alex Carey in time for the play-offs.
A back-to-lay of Strikers could well pay off and we can see that price being chopped in half if they make the knockouts.
Heat, meanwhile, are 3.259/4to finish bottom. Taking any of these prices is a flyer. It could well prove beneficial for a team to get its outbreak over and done with as fast as possible. Stars, for example, are currently bottom and Glenn Maxwell has just tested positive.
However, within a week they could well be back to full strength just when others are starting to fall by the wayside. One thing we do know: the tournament has become a farce. There is no competitive integrity and one could be forgiven for thinking where the desperation to keep it going comes from.
The answer is Cricket Australia, who have announced a top-up pool of players franchises can use to top-up their squads. And it won't matter if a player has appeared for another franchise.
The Sportsbook traders, understandably, are awaiting team news before pricing. But it could be worth checking top runscorer odds if Xavier Bartlett or James Bazley have not come down with the illness. Both are decent hitters who may be asked to take on extra responsibility with more established batters missing.
Stake £20 on multiples over the course of a day, and, after the bets have settled, you'll get a free £5 to use on multiples. Bets must settle before 23:59 on the day they're placed. No opt-in required, T&Cs apply. And we will also be offering No Cash Out suspensions on all match odds bets on the Sportsbook for the Big Bash.
Sunday 5 December, 8.35am