Big Bash 2013/14: Matt Floyd salutes in-form English players
Messrs Wright, Bopara and Kieswetter are making waves...
By Matt Floyd
Last Updated: 05/01/14 11:19am
Four-nil down in an Ashes series to a side they had just beaten 3-0, hammered in every game and mocked on and off the field, plus they have lost two of their most solid senior players (and had to drop another). There could yet be more casualties on the way, too.
Thank God for the Big Bash then.
England is by far the best represented foreign nation in this year's competition with 11 players initially signed up to franchises (10 now after Dimi Mascarenhas withdrew with a fractured jaw) and most of those players have hit the ground not just running, but sprinting.
Luke Wright was the first to stamp his authority on the Bash with a typically free swinging 70 off just 32 balls in the opening match for the Melbourne Stars.
World No 1 T20 batsman Alex Hales followed that up with a sensational 49 off 19 balls in his first innings for the Adelaide Strikers, and Jos Buttler underlined his worth to the Melbourne Renegades with 130 runs in his four innings with the side.
Chuck in Craig Kieswetter's 23 ball 50 for the Brisbane Heat against the Hobart Hurricanes and you can see why the local commentary teams have been so vocal in their praise of England's young T20 batting talent.
While there are one or two others yet to show their best, such as Eoin Morgan and Ravi Bopara, there are four English players amongst the top 10 run scorers and it feels as though some of our younger players are finally being heralded abroad as innovative and effective operators when it comes to the shortest format.
Next stop could well be the IPL for a few of those involved in the Bash, especially if they continue to wow Australian audiences.
The tournament itself continues to impress.
Most importantly, the cricket has been of high quality and exciting. In the first 12 games there have been seven last-over finishes and five scores over 200.
The latter is an important point as it's something that the newly renamed Natwest T20 Blast could learn from - T20 is a game conducive to being played on flat pitches with as much pace as possible.
No side in the Big Bash has tried to tailor their pitches to suit their own team, they've just prepared the best they can.
It's made for compelling viewing and helped bring in an average attendance of over 18,000 per match, a great effort.
It also makes you wonder whether the franchise system could actually work in England, something which I might delve into further at the end of the competition.
The Melbourne Stars have been the stand out team so far, winning all three of their opening games and looking every inch the future champions. They even fielded 11 International players against the Sydney Sixers.
The Adelaide Strikers look a well-balanced side and the Stars' crosstown rivals the Renegades have come back into contention having won their last two games. How they cope without Buttler, who should have played his last game for them now, could be key to their chances of progressing to the semi-finals.
It's early days so the rest are all still in the mix too but you might as well write off the hapless Sydney Thunder.
Despite making big name signings such as Mike Hussey, Eoin Morgan and Tillakaratne Dilshan in the off season, they have lost their first three games and that makes it a staggering 16 defeats in a row.
They were in a good position to finally break the streak in their last game against the Stars until somehow Dilshan failed to run out David Hussey.
Not that it was the Sri Lankan's fault though, his throw hit the stumps pretty hard with Hussey short of his ground but incredibly the 'zing' bails didn't come off!
I've honestly never seen that before. When that happens, you know things aren't going your way...