Looking back: Four learnings to carry into next season

Cricket Australia commentator Max Bryden looks back on the key lessons he learned from the 2021/22 Big Bash SuperCoach season.

Key Analysis

It’s done! It’s been undoubtedly the most chaotic fantasy season in BBL history.

Before we take a breather, I wanted to share some learnings from a rollercoaster of a season which I’ll use to see green arrows next season.

After starting fast – holding a top 300 spot for the first five rounds; I crashed hard in the round 6 double all the way back to 2.7k before a late season recovery got me back to 999th overall. Top 1k is top 1k!

While many serious coaches – that’s probably you reading this – already have a number of golden rules in order to master BBL SC, there were four new ones which I learnt the hard way this season which I’ll share so hopefully you can avoid them too in seasons to come.

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LESSON ONE

There is such thing as a bad DGW (the ‘Melbourne Stars’ rule)

Experienced coaches know doubles are a key part of the game, but a huge learning for me was understanding that not all doubles are created equally.

Planning your squad rounds in advance can help you get as many people on the field for a DGW as possible, but bad clubs on a double with a tough draw don’t always equate to big points as we saw repeated many times this year.

The first evidence of this was round 1 with two clubs with differing fortunes – the Sixers and Heat – both on the double.

Now, in hindsight, it seems pretty obvious that the Sixers were a great team with high-point scoring potential, while the Heat were at the other end of the scale.

In pure SuperCoach terms the class between the two teams was extremely evident with the Sixers scoring 1,201 points combined (the highest team total for any round) while the Heat just 715 – that’s a difference of 486 points.

In fact, the Sixers team total of 682 points in Game 1 almost topped the Heat total from both matches.

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Diving further into the draw also helps illustrate this point as the Sixers had two easier games against an injury plagued Stars side and a hot-and-cold Hobart team, while the Heat faced two of the best three clubs in the Scorchers and Thunder.

We saw this time and time again throughout the season where the bottom five clubs (Renegades, Heat, Strikers, Stars, Canes) generally scored poorly against the best three clubs (Scorchers, Sixers, Thunder).

Here’s some more examples of clubs with poor scores in the DGW when up against one of the top three clubs (under 800 points combined in a DGW would be considered under par)

  • Round 3: Melbourne Stars vs Sixers, Thunder – 768 points combined
  • Round 8: Melbourne Stars vs Scorchers, Renegades – 731 points combined
  • Round 10: Hobart Hurricanes vs Heat, Thunder – 704 points combined
  • Round 13: Brisbane Heat vs Scorchers, Sixers – 779 points combined

Of course even a poor team score from a double is always higher than a great single game week – and getting a piece of the action is crucial – but this rule helps illustrate that factors like fixtures and even grounds can be crucial considerations in just how big you should consider going in on a club in a DGW. 

Probably the best illustration of this point was the Stars round 3 DGW where despite one win and one loss occurring on the field, the Stars squad scored poorly.

They played two strong opposition on grounds – the Sixers @ the MCG and Thunder @ Spotless – that don’t offer a lot of points.

Those that didn’t go as heavy on that DGW and jumped on Mitch Marsh with a decent fixture against the Hurricanes were rewarded with his 167 points before his own DGW.

In a great DGW for the Scorchers against the ‘Canes and Renegades, the Scorchers combined for 987 points in the DGW meaning those that went early could trade in even more Scorchers to gain an advantage on the pack.

So of course, buy into doubles. But be a discerning buyer. Track the fixtures and form of their opposition. Try to understand which grounds offer more SC points. And buy smart. Going early on a good team can pay huge dividends.

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LESSON TWO

If they don’t bowl, there’s no such thing as a ‘keeper’ (aka the ‘Philippe’ rule)

We all know the moment. Round 6. Ben McDermott scores 348 points and it becomes a real case of the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’.

Famously on the podcast I said that selling Philippe – at the time worth $250k – was madness given his run of form.

I was warned that batters are only one good ball away from a huge price drop. He had a huge breakeven, but a pretty easy match-up against the Heat. I held him, skipped past Ben, and the rest is history.

Philippe’s score of 10 that round was a lot lower than McDermott’s, and besides the points, the remarkable form by McDermott meant that their prices basically swapped.

Philippe dropped $50k, McDermott rose $70k meaning that in one round those that swapped the two players banked $120k in team value compared to those that didn’t.

Bowlers are the most consistent performers in BBL SuperCoach. And while of course Philippe could’ve gone large himself, the lesson here is that if they don’t bowl, then the potential floor of expensive batters means that it is certainly possible to sell high and bank the price rises.

Even McDermott only managed 11 points combined in his next two rounds after even more people (myself included) had bought him in. if you’re going to anti-POD, of course the batting slots is the safer place to do so.

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LESSON THREE

Ride the hot hand (the ‘Clarke/Hales’ rule)

This rule is similar to the above, but a trend which I believe became more pronounced than ever before this season given the condensed nature of the tournament.

We know pricing on batsman can be an absolute rollercoaster.

Case in point was last year’s leading run-scorer Alex Hales who started the year at over $180k and got as low as $92k in round 9.

By that point he had averaged just 24 points per game and was getting out in some horrendous ways before ultimately he found his hands again just in time for his DGW.

By averaging an impressive 74.6 across his final five matches, that price finished right back at $175k.

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The signs were there for his return to form with a solid, if not spectacular, 26 against the Scorchers in tough conditions on the Gold Coast.

The next match, in a DGW against the Renegades, he exploded for 63 runs and kick-started his form and price turnaround. Thankfully your author was on him for the DGW.

Form has always been a factor in BBL SuperCoach, but this year I believe we have seen unprecedented form runs thanks to the condensed nature of the tournament.

Blokes caught fire and were able to string scores along for three, four or even five matches in a row at times. It meant that searching the form guides, finding the big negative breakevens, combining that view with fixtures was a really decent way to pick the next big batter. 

Some other examples of this:

  • Alex Hales: 5RA of 74.6 from rounds 10-13, up from season average of 24
  • Joe Clarke: 10RA of 63.5 from round 4-13, up from season average of 13.5
  • Ashton Turner: 3RA of 84 fro rounds 10-12, up from season average of 22
  • Jason Sangha: 4RA of 89 from rounds 4-7, up from season average of 61

There were plenty more too with runs from Moises, Munro and Renshaw as well which spring to mind.

Sometimes it is just form, but other times it could also be a role change or just a run of fixtures.

But in its simplest form, if a batter does it twice in a row, it’s okay to chase as it might happen again.

It’s always been there, but this year it’s been more pronounced so watch out for this if the tournament follows the same format in the future.

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LESSON FOUR

Select bowlers from the best sides

Another simple rule that the best already know, but for me a timely reminder that sometimes the simplest tactics are the best.

The three highest scoring teams – Scorchers, Sixers and Thunder – earn that title due to taking the most wickets.

In fact, the top five teams all lead the way in wickets taken, which is a pretty cool stat.

1stPerth98 wickets
2ndSydney Sixers93 wickets
3rdSydney Thunder91 wickets
4thAdelaide Strikers90 wickets
5thHobart Hurricanes81 wickets
6thMelbourne Renegades78 wickets
7th/8thStars/Heat77 wickets

Taking more wickets directly correlates to more SuperCoach points with wickets often bringing up to 31 SuperCoach points (wicket + catch + dot ball) in a single delivery.

Much like in other formats of the game, owning a ‘piece’ of the high-scoring teams is an effective strategy to shoot up the rankings. 

For various reasons, the popularity of the leading bowling options from these clubs was not always as high as it should have been on reflection.

After six rounds, Sean Abbott’s average was 96 yet he was only in less than 10% of teams.

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Andrew Tye was the leading total point scorer in SuperCoach after round 9 but still never peaked above 22% ownership. Ben Dwarshuis scored 132 points in round 11 with just 2.2% ownership.

Here’s some other strong averages from bowlers from the best three clubs:

  • Matt Kelly – 69.5 season average
  • Mohammed Hasnain – 63.6 average
  • Daniel Sams – 61.2 season average
  • Tymal Mills – 57.9 season average
  • Stephen O’Keefe – 57.7 season average
  • Saquib Mahmood – 57.5 average
  • Ashton Agar – 55.5 season average
  • Hayden Kerr – 54.3 season average
  • Gurinder Sandhu – 51.1 season average

It’s important to own a piece of the best teams bowling attack to give yourself a chance of maximum points.

This is especially true ahead of DGWs or easy fixtures when bulk wickets may occur. Seeing some of the starting prices on the above list of players as well as enough to make those (me) who paid $200k for Mujeeb feel sick!

Summary

Some of these may not be new, but with data and fresh hindsight I believe they’re important lessons we can carry into next year. The chaos of this season was certainly a big factor that we will have to get over but some of the lessons are bound to ring true again next year.

It’s been a pleasure to have the chance to talk cricket with you all season long. Hope you’ve enjoyed the articles and we’ll see you all again next summer!

SC PLAYBOOK PODCAST: SuperCoach season award winners, listen on Apple, Spotify or Soundcloud

Season in review:

  • Started red hot but almost hamstrung my squad development with a high investment in premium guys. Curran, Sams, Maxwell, Rashid, Philippe.
  • Need to remember that a season average of 60 involves a lot of 40s and the occasional 100, but altogether it has been super difficult to find keepers this season which meant my traditional strategy hasn’t worked.
  • Played the doubles very aggressively, which paid off brilliantly in round 1, but the approach of three in every round came undone when the team on the DGW had a tough two games.
  • For example, Strikers in round 2 had Renegades and Scorchers. They did well against Melbourne but against Perth they got smashed and posted the second lowest total team score (238) of the season. Only the Stars against the Sixers in round 1 went worse.
  • Prioritising DGW players instead of guys who were undervalued to begin with, e.g. Tye, Kane, Zahir (for the first 5 rounds), Tanveer meant I missed chances for cash gen, but most importantly meant I was always moving sideways for DGW players, and couldn’t always afford the most premium option.
  • Bringing in three Stars for their round 3 DGW meant missing going early on Marsh which cost me 100s of points and about 30k. The Stars DGW was the lowest combined total score (768) of any team, only bested by their shocker just gone of 731 combined – they also lost a ton of cash due to poor performance before the DGW. Yet both times I’ve rolled the dice on three players. I’m less upset this time given Clarke and Qais at least will make money.
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  • The big lesson here is the need to find not only the players that are undervalued which will both score well and make cash BUT also buy into the best teams, especially the best bowling attacks, as that is where the points are.
  • Buying into Scorchers early for example – their DGW had over 200 more total points so loading up on them would’ve been better, per the going early on Marsh or Agar options.
  • The Renegades were in a super low-scoring match last night, but they set their highest total team score by almost 100 points as they took 10 wickets. They beat up the Stars, and those bowling attacks LIKE the Scorchers, who have taken a huge amount of wickets are where the big consistent points are.
  • Even the Heat – they’ve gone 2 win and 2 losses in their last three games but have averaged 540 points per game, which is better than any club… this is because the bowling attack has finally clicked with Steketee back in and they’ve averaged at least 8 wickets per innings which means HUGE scores to their team. If you bought into their bowlers ahead of the DGW (or even for the DGW), well played!
  • The other big lesson has just been BATs, especially cheapie bats. Once they peak in price, don’t be afraid to sell to a guy in form.
    • Everyone who sold from Phillippe to McDermott for the Canes double did the right thing. It made sense on form alone given how good McDermott has looked.
    • People like me then chased McDermott and paid huge coin for him to then go out and fail in the SGW.
    • BATs have always been so volatile, which is why people avoid them and use allrounders in their batting spots. But this year, the tournament style game play with multiple games in quick succession means you can trust form a bit more. We’ve seen guys like Joe Clarke, Jason Sangha, Kurtis Patterson, Matt Renshaw, Matt Short, McDermott, Munro and even Moises string together multiple scores and when it rains it pours for some of those players. 
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DGW Strategy:

  • Two DGW with two teams on the double, and one team with one DGW.
  • Firstly, the two weeks with two teams I want to make sure I have at least one gun from each side so I can try to VC loop. I couldn’t do this on the Canes/Heat DGW and it hurt me no end.
  • Secondly, I want to target the best remaining DGW from the best clubs. I think that is Hobart and Thunder.
  • The Strikers have been consistently poor this season – 2nd worst scoring club each round – and I already have a couple players.
  • The Scorchers DGW will likely be weather affected and they have two really difficult matches against the Thunder and Sixers whilst missing some huge squad members.
  • Hobart play Heat which could be high scoring, and play the Thunder.
  • Thunder play Renegades at Marvel and Hobart. I like the Thunders chances and they can take a lot of wickets as a group so I will try my best to try go early on both teams, especially the ‘Canes who take on Adelaide next round.
  • The Renegades DGW doesn’t look that great to me, so I will look mostly at the draw and any inform bats.

One Response to “Looking back: Four learnings to carry into next season”

  1. Selling players, like Phillipe and Maxwell, at a likely unsustainable high down to proven guns proved to be a good move and a different form of income from just selling bargains/rookies at their 3 round peak.

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