Big Bash League XI: Team of the Group Stage

By (Featured Columnist) on January 28, 2014

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Scott Barbour/Getty Images

The group stages of the Big Bash League are done and dusted but who have been the stars of the show so far?

And no, it isn't the flashing bails, the cheerleaders or even the celebrity stationed in the crowd looking to catch a six and make some fried-chicken guzzling family a million dollars.

There's been some stand-out performances from new and established names alike and here is Bleacher Report's Big Bash XI at the end of the group stage.

Please note, preference is given to players who have played the majority of the competition.

 

* All stats obtained from the Big Bash League official website and ESPNCricinfo, unless otherwise stated.

1: Ben Dunk

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Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

Innings: seven

Runs: 348

Strike rate: 146.83 

4s/6s: 29/13

Perhaps the tournament's surprise package with the bat, Ben Dunk is one of the main reasons for Hobart's late successful charge into the semi-finals.

Primarily, Queensland's reserve wicketkeeper, the big-hitting left-hander scored 66 more runs than his nearest rival Simon Katich to comfortably top the batting charts.

If Dunk can continue the form that has seen him bludgeon 13 sixes and score more than 28 in every innings bar one, then an IPL team may see him as an ideal squad member.

2. Aaron Finch

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Michael Dodge/Getty Images

Innings: six

Runs: 262

Strike rate: 148.02 

4s/6s: 23/12

Despite missing two games through international duty, Aaron Finch's stock continues to rise in T20 circles around the world.

One of the few players to average over 50 in the tournament, the powerfully-built opener has done his best to give the disappointing Renegades some positive starts.

At one point, Finch scored three half-centuries in six days and his overall tally of 12 maximums are enough to tie him for third in the sixes table despite playing less innings than his contemporaries. 

If he can sustain his form then the ICC World T20 competition could see some fireworks like this.

3. Luke Wright

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Robert Prezioso/Getty Images

Innings: eight

Runs: 275

Strike rate: 151.93

4s/6s: 35/12

At last, an Englishman who can play cricket Down Under. But seriously, the English raiders have performed well in this year's Big Bash League and none more so than Luke Wright.

The 28-year-old sits third in the run charts having struck comfortably more boundaries than any other batsman and has also scored at a faster rate than any of the other 12 highest scorers.

Throw in Wright's useful bowling and the Sussex man is one of the main factors behind the Stars' perfect record although he has to drop down the order to get in this side.

Let's hope he can do some damage like this for his country in the forthcoming T20 series with Australia.

4. Mike Hussey (C)

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Brett Hemmings/Getty Images

Innings: eight

Runs: 258

Strike rate: 130.96

4s/6s: 17/8

The ageless Mike Hussey's performances demand a place in this side and his vast experience would enable him to add some steel to the middle order.

Despite finishing his international career over a year ago, the 38-year-old is still going strong in T20 cricket and has recorded three Big Bash League fifties at a more than useful click.

Sadly, most of Hussey's runs were wasted as his team won just once in eight games to finish bottom of the table.

That hasn't stopped talk of the trusty left-hander making a comeback, per Brad Elborough of the Sydney Morning Herald, in first-class cricket for Western Australia in the Sheffield Shield competition.

5. Simon Katich

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Scott Barbour/Getty Images

Innings: eight

Runs: 282

Strike rate: 134.28

4s/6s: 30/4

Simon Katich is another experienced campaigner and his volume of runs make him impossible to leave out here.

The Perth Scorchers man relies less on brute force than some of the other players but has still registered two fifties and remains a master at manipulating the ball into the gaps.

Having got out in single figures just once, the 38-year-old will have a serious part to play in his team's semi-final against the Sixers.

6. Chris Lynn

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Matt Roberts/Getty Images

Innings: eight

Runs: 198

Strike rate: 144.52

4s/6s: 9/14

It's Chris Lynn's ability to hit a long ball that makes him such a dangerous player and he's earned a place in this side despite a dip in form over the last few innings.

The 23-year-old began the campaign in a blaze of glory with a blistering 81 against the Scorchers and followed this up a few games later with a 56 against the Thunder.

Not many batsmen hit more sixes than fours though, and it's this power that has seen him named in Australia's T20 squad for the three forthcoming games against England.

7. Tim Paine (wk)

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Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

Innings: seven

Runs: 163

Strike rate: 142.98

4s/6s: 15/4

Wicketkeeper Tim Paine just edges out England's Craig Kieswetter behind the stumps based on his significantly superior strike rate.

The Australian international showed his class to make a vital half century in the must-win game against Brisbane, which helped secure Hobart's semi-final berth and remains a more-than-handy glovesman.

With Brad Haddin's days surely winding down soon, Paine will be keen to keep his name in the international mix, although he missed out to Matthew Wade in Australia's latest T20 squad.

8. John Hastings

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Scott Barbour/Getty Images

Matches: eight

Wickets: 12

Economy Rate: 5.93

All-rounder John Hastings hasn't had to do too much with the bat so far in this campaign but with the ball he's been sensational.

While boasting the lowest economy rate among the top-20 wicket-takers, barring Muttiah Muralitharan, the Melbourne Stars man's 12 scalps underline what an asset he's been to skipper Cameron White.

Having made one Test appearance in 2012, Hastings' international days could be behind him but if he can maintain this form then an overseas T20 opportunity isn't out of the question.

9. Muttiah Muralitharan

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Scott Barbour/Getty Images

Matches: eight

Wickets: 8

Economy Rate: 5.41

Not much more needs to be said about Muttiah Muralitharan's incredible career but at the ripe old age of 41, the spinner remains a handful.

The most impressive thing about the Sri Lankan ace's Big Bash performances is the miserly economy rate, which can often be more crucial than wickets in the shortest form of the game.

Yet to concede more than 30 runs in a single match, nobody can say Murali didn't do his best to help an otherwise disappointing team campaign as the Renegades, who won just three matches, were eliminated before the semi-finals.

10. Cameron Gannon

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Matt Roberts/Getty Images

Matches: eight

Wickets: 18

Economy Rate: 8.16

With five more wickets than his next nearest rival, the competition's runaway leading wicket-taker Cameron Gannon gets a spot in the bowling attack.

Using his height to good advantage, the 25-year-old has taken three or more wickets on four occasions from just eight appearances, including 4-10 against Sydney Thunder.

Having fought his way back from being banned in the 2012-13 season for an illegitimate action, it is hoped that Gannon can continue to develop in all formats of the game.

11. Jackson Bird

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Michael Dodge/Getty Images

Matches: seven

Wickets: 13

Economy Rate: 6.71

It's easy to forget that Jackson Bird played in one of the Ashes Tests in the English summer, but the seamer's recent form suggests an international recall might not be far away.

Opening the bowling for the Melbourne Stars, the 27-year-old has taken at least one wicket in every game while a tight disciplined line has meant he's yet to concede more than 33 runs in a single game.

City rivals, the Renegades, suffered most at the hands of Bird, who took seven wickets in total, including a 4-31, across their two clashes.

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