Expert Q&A: 2021 SC BBL winner Chris Baker on last season’s key moves & planning for Round 1
Melbourne-based father Chris Baker’s Chrispy’s Critters took out the SuperCoach BBL title in 2021 by a whopping 280-point margin. And it was only Chris’ second season playing SC BBL, so he’s on to a winning formula.
The accountant, who is a Stars and Carlton supporter, finished 2,142th in his debut SC BBL season but hit the top 1,000 early in BBL|10, reaching top spot by Round 13 and never relinquishing it.
Chris made plenty of good moves throughout the season, but adopted a considered approach, assessing changing roles, break-evens and the all-important fixture, to capitalize on double game weeks. He also always planned several rounds in advance, jumping on cash cows early with selective criteria, although he didn’t always get it right.
HB: Firstly, what did you do with the prize!?
Chris: A couple of modest improvements to the house. But the rest was actually investing in things like a tent for camping for future family vacations as I have a couple of daughters. Nothing overly exciting, but just planning for future fun. We’re very limited on what we can do at the moment.
HB: So what were the key moves to success late in the season?
Chris: I started off with some of the big all-rounders like Glenn Maxwell, Dan Christian and D’Arcy Short in my side. I carried them from the beginning all the way through to the end of the season. In the first couple of rounds, I targeted the cheap players that were looking good to make some cash. I traded early for the likes of Jack Wildermuth, Dan Worrall and Tanveer Sangha as well. But come the middle of the season, switching my keeper to Sam Billings when he was about $100,000 was important. He ended up getting about $50,000 higher from Round 8 and 9.
I also traded in Marnus Labuschagne while he was finishing playing the last Test. I brought him in as a loophole player because he was so cheap for a round and then he actually made himself available to play and then that was probably where my end of season success was driven.
He scored 70 in his first game and looked pretty solid both with the bat and the ball. I made him my vice-captain or captain for the next three weeks and he scored 107, 139 and 122 so that was pretty solid scoring to keep me right there at the top and get me into the number one spot.
But I had my down moments as well. I traded in Daniel Sams twice during the season, only to have to trade him out when he got concussed and when he hurt his wrist. Like quite a few other people, I actually did trade in Aaron Finch, but for me, I thankfully only traded him in when he was $60K in price. He started $170k for the season.
HB: Considering the fixture, how do you structure up for Round 1?
Chris: My hope is if I can find the right priced players that I can start a squad with only one non-playing player, ideally a wicketkeeper-batsman. That way, you try and maximize the number of selections that are playing and therefore generating cash. But whether we have one or two non-playing players that will depend on what rookies are likely to start in those first two matches.
You’re trying to balance the number of the double game players each week. As you’re trading from one club to another for whatever double game weeks come, I think you’re also looking at trading the rookies to the established all-rounders at the same time.
If you do go for a mid-price player, whether it be like a $90k Jimmy Peirson and then upgrading him the following week, what you’re ultimately trying to do is get those eight all-rounders. Therefore putting four of the all-rounders in the bowling area of your team and four in the batting area that you could switch and move as you needed to.
Midway through the season getting that non-playing all-rounder that allows you to start moving your team flexibly and looping your specialist batsmen and your specialist bowlers who can either have really good games or really bad games that you want to work out what the score is going to be before you commit to having it done as part of your final 11.