Despite a four-game mid-season winning streak, Melbourne Stars' momentum was spectacularly halted in BBL|13 as the club missed finals action again
BBL|13 review: Stars fail to capitalise on momentum
Melbourne Stars men's coach Peter Moores said his team "weren't hiding" from areas they had to improve, after the club missed out on Big Bash finals action for a fourth consecutive season.
In a seesawing KFC BBL|13 that saw the Stars slump to 0-3 before surging back with four straight wins, Glenn Maxwell's side lost their final three games in a disappointing end to their campaign.
At 4-3 with their last three fixtures all in Melbourne, the Stars failed to capitalise on their good position.
The club is now staring down the barrel of an unwanted record ahead of BBL|14.
Only two other teams have missed the BBL finals in four straight seasons; Melbourne Renegades from BBL|03 to BBL|06, and Sydney Thunder from BBL|01 to BBL|04.
No team, however, has missed out for five summers on the trot.
"There has to be a huge drive, really, to start to move ourselves to a place where we can be competitive season-on-season, not just for one season," former England coach Moores said when reflecting on his first season in charge.
The Stars were one of the most active clubs during the off-season, with a significant amount of movement on their playing list.
However few of the incoming players had a definitive impact, while they clearly missed Australia's premier white-ball spinner in Adam Zampa who moved to crosstown rivals the Renegades in an off-season swap with wicketkeeper Sam Harper.
Fresh off Australia's ODI World Cup victory, Maxwell showed glimpses of his best while Marcus Stoinis didn't reach the lofty standards he sets himself.
Allrounder Beau Webster, however, was the shining light for the Stars in BBL|13, finishing as the club's leading run-scorer along with some handy contributions with the ball.
In the days following their season-ending defeat to the Hurricanes at the MCG, Maxwell informed teammates he would be relinquishing the captaincy next season, expressing a desire to play without leadership duties.
BBL|13 result: Sixth (4 wins, 6 losses)
Most runs: Beau Webster (262)
Best strike rate (min 50 runs): Glenn Maxwell (173.57)
Most wickets: Glenn Maxwell (7)
Best economy (min 10 overs): Nathan Coulter-Nile (6.50)
Contracted for BBL|14: Scott Boland (contracted until end of BBL15), Hilton Cartwright (BBL15), Sam Harper (BBL14), Campbell Kellaway (BBL14), Glenn Maxwell (BBL15), Joel Paris (BBL14), Tom Rogers (BBL14), Mark Steketee (BBL14), Marcus Stoinis (BBL16), Beau Webster (BBL14)
Out of contract: Joe Burns, Brody Couch, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Nick Larkin, Corey Rocchiccioli
The Stars were dealt a blow when England gun and No.2 draft pick Harry Brook withdrew on the eve of BBL|13. Countryman Dan Lawrence proved a handy addition in his five-match stint, scoring 116 runs and chipping in with six wickets. Fellow Englishman and left-arm spinner Liam Dawson was serviceable in his three-game stay although failed to have a definitive impact, finishing with two wickets.
One of three Pakistanis to play for the Stars throughout BBL|13, leg-spinner Usama Mir was steady whenever thrown the ball, finishing with five wickets in his five appearances at a more-than-handy economy rate of 6.64. Fan favourite Haris Rauf also had a solid impact in his four-game stay, with six wickets in four matches, while veteran allrounder Imad Wasim was solid with the ball (four wickets, economy rate 8.12) however only had two opportunities with the bat in his seven games, scoring 14 in each.
Season recap with head coach Peter Moores
Fourth straight finals-less season
"We know we didn't qualify (for finals), and we haven't qualified for a couple of years before either. So there has to be a huge drive, really, to start to move ourselves to a place where we can be competitive season-on-season, not just for one season."
A fan group hungry for success
"I really enjoyed it (coaching at the MCG), but it was my biggest disappointment in some ways because we didn't deliver the results. The MCG itself and the way the fans were, the noise they made … it felt like there's an audience there who want to come and see a Stars team win. And we didn’t get over the line. We did our winning away from home, actually. One thing we want to move, and I want to move, and I know the team does, is to be able to deliver (there). The MCG has got to become a stronghold for us."
Missing the mark with the ball
"To do well at the MCG, I think there's a discipline to bowling there that I don't think we managed. It doesn't mean that individually we didn't bowl well, but as a group we didn't do well enough, whereby there's a length to bowl and a line to bowl that really creates pressure on batters because of the dimensions of the ground, and we didn't back those overs up at either end all the time. I think that we have to accept, that's somewhere we've got to get better. Batting-wise there, I think we've got the quality of players to do really well at the MCG – you've got to put the whole thing together."
(Beating the Sixers after nine straight defeats) "That was significant because nobody expected us to win. But inside the group, we'd had a chat before, it had a really good feel about it. Straight after Christmas, a lot of distractions, people flying in pretty late … when we got to the SCG, there was a collective feel within the group, I felt, that we could do something. And that was the result, I think, that we'd taken a really tough loss to the Thunder at Albury … the way we went into that game, the way we played that game, the style of that game, was a real belief-builder for us."
Balancing short- and long-term interests
"For me you look both ways; you're growing from the bottom up, so you're trying to improve your own players, and you're also trying to make sure your recruitment is strong in the areas you think you need to fill. There's always a bit of both – we want to win straightaway, we also want to see growth through our young players coming into it and starting to show what they can do. That's always going to be a long-term approach but in the short-term we just need to get better in certain little bits of the game."
"I think we're moving, personally. And I'm not saying that lightly. The first thing a dressing room needs, it's got to be a place that people want to walk into, and that feels like a place where it's open enough, people share enough – you go in there, and you've got to be honest with each other. I found that this year, and I really enjoyed it with the playing group and also the support staff, that we weren’t hiding from stuff. We knew we've got areas to move."