Days out from Hobart Hurricanes’ BBL semi-final date with the Melbourne Stars, veteran batsman George Bailey has questioned the finals format that sees the minor premiers facing sudden death.
“It’s been a really long tournament, but I like the fact that we are playing each team twice, but I do feel we could really condense that down,’’ the 36-year-old, who has scored 326 runs at a strike-rate of 153.77 this summer, said on Tuesday.
“I think the finals system that plays out in the IPL is quite good where one and two play off, and to finish first or second you get a double chance (and) three plays four and the winner plays the loser of the first semi, giving them a double chance.
“I think the longer the tournament goes, the more you can mount an argument that finishing first or second you should be rewarded.
“(But) you can also mount an argument that the cut-throat nature of it is what makes it so interesting and you could play anyone in those semi-finals and the result could go any way.”
The ‘Canes have previously ended the campaigns of two minor premiers after finishing fourth (the Stars in BBL03 and the Scorchers last summer), so despite their place at the top of the table, will enter wary.
“It is T20 cricket and we could go out tomorrow and get beaten by Sandy Bay, that’s the nature of the tournament and the nature of the way the game is played,’’ he said.
“There is no easy game. People can say what they like, you can be in good form, you can be in bad form, but four teams make the finals and then four teams are hoping like heck that they come out and play their best game of the season on Thursday and Friday.”
Like James Faulkner 24 hours earlier, Bailey backed the stuttering Riley Meredith to rediscover his very best after the paceman’s struggles in recent games, believing with Faulkner back in the team “Riley’s role will change back into something he is used to”.
Bailey said the ‘Canes would be keen to get rid of dynamic Stars skipper Glenn Maxwell early considering “you try to block one part of the field off for him and he’s able to access another part”’ such is his batting smarts. But he believed the Stars were more than just a one-trick pony
“If you focus on just one of their players, a Ben Dunk or a Marcus Stoinis can get you,’’ he said.
“The other one you’d have to be concerned about is Nic Maddinson, who hasn’t done anything all tournament and that worries me as well as he’s a quality player. They’ve got some phenomenal strikers and they are pretty dangerous against pace and spin.”
Bailey also believed captain Matthew Wade, who won the domestic cricketer of the year award on Monday, should be the second wicketkeeper on this year’s Ashes tour saying “from the view I’ve had on the field, he’s been one of the best batsmen in Australia in the last period of time”.
Thursday’s semi-final at Bellerive Oval will be at 7.30pm.