Australia's KFC Big Bash League is back, and cricket fans can watch live online as the Sydney Sixers take on crosstown rivals the Sydney Thunder in the opening T20 match of the 2015 extravaganza, as the Sixers look to regain the championship they won in the first edition of the Big Bash League, while the Thunder attempt to pull themselves off the bottom rung of the BBL ladder.
UPDATE, November 19: In Match Three of the 2015 Big Bash League, the Melbourne Renegades, led by an opening stand of 65 off of 45 balls by Captain Aaron Finch, chased down an impressive total of 181 by the homestanding Brisbane Heat. On Sunday, the Sydney Thunder go for their second straight victory to open the BBL campaign, on the road against the Melbourne Stars.
The Thunder, who have never finished higher than seventh on the eight-team Big Bash circuit — that for the five years of its existence has been the showpiece of Australia's summer cricket season — have also never beaten their derby rivals in seven attempts.
But Thunder Captain Michael Hussey, the 40-year-old former Australia international star, says that the latest loss to the Thunder, coming at the tail end of last season's Big Bash League group stage, will give his side the additional mental push his players need to finally defeat the Sixers.
"It hurt a lot that night, for sure. It certainly hurt me a lot and I know a few of the guys who were a part of that game last year, it hurt them a lot, too," Hussey said of the match when he watched his team allow the Sixers to chase down 154. "I don't think you need any extra motivation in a big game like the start of the tournament, but it certainly did hurt."
Watch a preview of the 2015 KFC Big Bash League season in the video below, from the Cricket.com.au site.
To find out how to watch the fifth match of the KFC 2015 Big Bash League live online, Melbourne Stars vs. Sydney Thunder, see the streaming information at the bottom of this article. The opening delivery is set for 7:25 p.m. local time at Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday, December 20. For United States viewers, the match will start at 3:25 a.m. Eastern Time, 12:25 a.m. Pacific — but the broadcast will be replayed via online streaming video twice later in the day.
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While, like the Big Bash League will, as usual, feature a healthy compliment of big name Australian and international cricket stars, some big names will be conspicuously absent as well.
Australia's intimidating left-arm pace duo of Mitchell Johnson of the defending champion Perth Scorchers and Mitchell Starc of the Sixers will both miss the Big Bash this time around — Johnson simply to rest after a busy year which he capped off with his retirement from international cricket, and Starc due to an ankle injury that he has been nursing for several months, but that flared up during the recent Test series against New Zealand, and may even keep Starc out through the World T20 championships in March.
New Zealand Captain Brendon McCullum of the Brisbane Heat, despite signing a three-year contract with the club, has chosen to honor his international team commitments over the high-profile T20 league. But the Heat have replaced him with another dynamic player in West Indies batsman Lendl Simmons, who just last week wrapped up a successful T20 tournament with the Rangpur Riders of the Bangladesh Premier League, and in May was a key component of the Indian Premier League Mumbai Indians championship run.
Controversial former England slugger Kevin Pietersen will indeed play for the Melbourne Stars in the 2015 Big Bash League campaign, but on Monday Pietersen will return to England to witness the birth of his second child, missing his team's December 27 match against the Sydney Sixers.
India-based website CricHD will stream the 2015 KFC Big Bash League fifth T20 match, Melbourne Stars vs. Sydney Thunder, at this link, but fans who choose that option will have to put up with numerous advertisements that often cause slowdowns when viewing online. The best way to watch the Melbourne Stars vs. Sydney Thunder online, as well as all Big Bash League matches, in the United States is through Willow TV, which is available via this YouTube link with a monthly subscription fee, as well as on Willow TV's own site, accessible by clicking here.
But there are legal ways to watch Willow TV for free. Certain promotional offers make it possible to watch the all-cricket network, including the Melbourne Stars vs. Sydney Thunder Big Bash League 2015 Match Five, for a limited period of time, such as the offer at this link — or try the one-month free trial of Sling TV's International Sports Package, which includes Willow. Information on that deal can be found at this link. The Stars vs. Thunder match will be replayed by Willow at 10 a.m. United States Eastern Time on Thursday (7 a.m. Pacific), and again at 6 p.m. Eastern (3 p.m. Pacific).
[Featured Photo By Brendon Thorne / Getty Images]