Perth Scorchers produced a dominant performance to reach the final which is contest between the BBL’s two most successful teams
The two best teams of the season. The two most successful sides in BBL history. After 56 regular-season matches and four preliminary finals the decider for this year’s title has the makings of a great contest. Sydney Sixers are aiming to secure back-to-back titles, something Perth Scorchers managed in 2013-14 and 2014-15 as part of three championships in four seasons, and by the end of Saturday (or, perhaps, Sunday if the weather doesn’t play ball) they will have six of the 10 BBL titles between them.
The Sixers will have had a week to prepare for this match – their first home game of the season which has had to navigate Covid-19 restrictions right up until the final moments – after booking their spot with a comprehensive victory over the Scorchers in the Qualifier. That match ended in controversial scenes when Andrew Tye’s wild bouncer denied James Vince the chance to go to his hundred. It remains to be seen whether any niggle hangs over from that.
It looked as though the Scorchers’ season may be coming apart when that result followed their loss to Brisbane Heat in the final regular-season game, but they rebounded magnificently with their most comprehensive performance of the campaign to crush the Heat in the Challenger yesterday. They deserve significant credit for overcoming the loss of a home final due to the Perth Covid-19 lockdown, the late withdrawal of Jason Roy from the match against the Heat and the loss of Mitchell Marsh from the bowling ranks.
The main overseas players from both sides – Roy, Liam Livingstone and Colin Munro from the Scorchers and Vince and Carlos Brathwaite from the Sixers – have had a significant impact during the tournament while both squads have good depth, as witnessed by Cameron Bancroft’s successful return to the Scorchers team when Roy was injured and the Sixers leaving out overseas bowler Jake Ball.
The Sixers have also been boosted by the return from the Test hub of captain Moises Henriques – who has looked in terrific form – and Sean Abbott. They took the decision not to parachute Mitchell Starc into the side at the 11th hour, rewarding those who have done the work this season of getting them to this stage. The Scorchers have not been hugely impacted by international calls, but in a sign of their success, five of the team will be on the charter flight to New Zealand on Sunday for the T20I series.
(last five completed matches)
Previously this season
January 6 (Perth) – Scorchers 4 for 183 beat Sixers 97 by 86 runs
January 16 (Canberra) – Sixers 3 for 164 beat Scorchers 7 for 163 by seven wickets
January 30 (Canberra) – Sixers 1 for 168 beat Scorchers 6 for 167 by nine wickets”
In the spotlight
When Dan Christian was asked recently how many titles it would be if this one was bagged for the Sixers he suggested he couldn’t quite remember. Whether that’s true or not, it is inescapable that T20 success follows Christian around and his move from Melbourne Renegades to the Sixers for this season has added considerable punch to the middle order. Alongside Jordan Silk they have provided ideal players for the Power Surge and closing overs while Christian remains a canny operator with the ball. In the absence of Henriques for a large part of the season his experience can’t be undervalued either.
Jason Behrendorff hasn’t picked up the volume of wickets of his new-ball partner Jhye Richardson but his impact for the Scorchers has been equally important. His overall economy for the season is 6.87 and while his traditional role in the powerplay has been altered a little by it being trimmed to four overs he has made some critical inroads, not least in the Challenger when he struck twice in two balls. It has been a long road for him after back surgery but the BBL final will be followed by a chance to resume his Australia career.
Sixers (likely) 1 Josh Philippe, 2 James Vince, 3 Daniel Hughes, 4 Moises Henriques (capt), 5 Jordan Silk, 6 Dan Christian, 7 Carlos Brathwaite, 8 Sean Abbott, 9 Steve O’Keefe, 10 Ben Dwarshius, 11 Jackson Bird
Scorchers (likely) 1 Cameron Bancroft, 2 Liam Livingstone, 3 Colin Munro, 4 Josh Inglis (wk), 5 Mitchell Marsh, 6 Ashton Turner, 7 Aaron Hardie, 8 Jhye Richardson, 9 Andrew Tye, 10 Fawad Ahmed, 11 Jason Behrendroff
Pitch and conditions
The first BBL game of the season at the SCG means there are a few unknowns, but generally the surfaces are very good. The greater uncertainty is, again, being brought by the weather forecast. Although nowhere near as bad as 12 months ago, when it was extraordinary that the final got played, there is a chance of storms impacting the game. After last season a reserve day has been added to the schedule but the first aim will be to complete the match on Saturday even if it’s reduced in overs – the minimum it can be is a 5/5.
Stats and trivia
- The Sixers and Scorchers have met 19 times in the BBL with the Scorchers leading the head-to-head 11-8 (one of their victories being a Super Over in 2014)
- Three of those meetings have been in the final: the Sixers won the inaugural BBL in 2011-12 with the Scorchers prevailing in 2014-15 and 2016-17
- There could be three survivors from the 2011-12 final in this year’s showdown: Mitchell Marsh made 77 off 57 balls, Henriques took Player of the Match for 70 off 41 balls and Steve O’Keefe made 48 opening the batting.
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo