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The Big Bash League has just gotten underway, but one potential contender has gotten off to a ragged start. Slow starts have been something of a trend for the Melbourne Stars in years past, but this season’s lackluster beginning has to be particularly concerning. The Stars” odds of challenging for the play offs are dwindling with each passing match.
The season is now 10 games long, but losing each of your first 3 matches is not the way you want to start a new campaign. With just 8 games on the schedule 3 years ago, the Stars were still able to make it to the semifinals despite an 0-3 start. So, there is still reason to believe Melbourne can turn it around.
Unfortunately, the team’s latest setback was a rough one. The Stars looked completely helpless during their drubbing at the hands of Brisbane Heat at the MCG on Tuesday night, and fans and media alike are concerned that the team looks lost and directionless.
The loss put the Stars into an unenviable position ahead of the upcoming MCG derby. The Stars will have to do battle with the Melbourne Renegades, who have looked excellent in the season’s early stages. The Renegades have gone 2-1 through their first 3 matches, though they did lose a close one against Perth Scorchers last time out.
The Stars had no answer for the Heat’s leggie tandem of Yasir Shah and Mitchell Swepson. Swepson (3-14 from four overs) and Shah (1-16 from four) made their way to 7-141.
Brisbane opened with “Bash Brothers” Chris Lynn and Brendon McCullum, which paid off handsomely. The tandem put 101 in less than 11 overs as McCullum led the charge with a knock of 61 from 30 balls. Lynn eventually made his way to 50 in less dramatic fashion, but the duo still put on quite the display.
It’s safe to question whether Melbourne captain John Hastings deserves his spot in the side. He missed all of last season with an injury, but he hasn’t looked like the same player since returning. Hastings made a duck and continued to struggle with the ball, as he went for 22 from two overs.
The struggles can’t entirely be pinned on Hastings, however, as the Stars lost by nine wickets with 32 balls still to spare.
Coach Stephen Fleming has some work to do if his side is going to turn things around before the play offs. The off-season acquisition of Ben Dunk drew rave reviews, but thus far he has failed to live up to lofty expectations. Dunk made just five against Brisbane, which brings his total to only 11 runs on the young season. Luke Wright has not yet gotten more than 21 in a match, either.
The Stars have a golden opportunity to get out of their collective rut against their intracity rivals this weekend. If they fail to get the result they need, it may be too late for a turnaround.