COVID has finally shown its face on the Big Bash League, and while the Melbourne Stars have been heavily impacted, most other sides are still playing at near full strength. Here is the preview for the next group of matches.
Brisbane Heat vs Sydney Sixers (Tuesday, January 4, 7:15pm)
The Brisbane Heat have rolled themselves up to fifth place on the table following an unconvincing victory over the Hobart Hurricanes on the road on New Year’s Day. They will need to be a lot more than convincing though if they are to get the better of the high-flying Sydney Sixers during their Tuesday evening clash on the Gold Coast.
The victory over Hobart improved their record to three and five, but with numerous bash boost points, they sit on 14 competition points and are four clear of the Melbourne Stars at the time of writing, although the Stars will play their eighth game against the Melbourne Renegades the day before this match.
The Sixers, on the other hand, have dropped just a single match so far this season and while they had a washout against the Melbourne Renegades in Coffs Harbour last time out, they have beaten the Heat, Adelaide Strikers, Melbourne Stars and Sydney Thunder since their last loss on the way to a six and one record.
Experience has been the key for the men in magenta, and it was in that last win over the Heat, getting the job done in a low-scoring run chase on the final ball, their bowling attack – led by Sean Abbott’s 4 for 31 – first holding its nerve to hold the Heat to 105, before Abbott himself crashed 37 off 43 balls to see out the victory.
But with Moises Henriques and Josh Philippe leading the charge with the bat for the Sixers, both sitting in the top five for runs so far this tournament, it’s clear the Heat need more pout of their top order. They were in dire straights against the Hurricanes during their New Year clash too, only to be saved by some excellent lower-order batting.
Sam Heazlett might have 172 runs, and Chris Lynn 152, but neither have set the world on fire, and only one more Heat player has scored 100 or more runs. That isn’t good enough for this stage of the tournament, and against a red-hot Sixers bowling attack, they will be overwhelmed in a big way here.
Our best bet: Sydney Sixers win $1.56 at PlayUp
Perth Scorchers vs Sydney Thunder (Wednesday, January 5, 9:15pm)
The Perth Scorchers will play their first of two late-night matches on the Gold Coast against Sydney opposition when they take on the Thunder in a clash where they will want to make a statement about their position at the top of the ladder, with a current record reading seven and one from eight matches.
Their form is very strong, but in some ways hard to get a read on given they have only beaten a depleted Melbourne Stars side and the bottom of the table Melbourne Renegades twice in their last four matches, to go with a loss to the Sydney Thunder where they let in 200 runs.
However, they are still the top team in the competition and have had a mountain of strong individual performances, with Colin Munro and Mitchell Marsh sitting in the top six for runs, and all of AJ Tye, Ashton Agar, Jason Behrendorff, Tymal Mills and Matthew Kelly in the top 20 when it comes to wickets.
They are numbers which are hard to argue, however, the Thunder have found some form in recent times. Their victory over the Scorchers, scoring 200, has been backed up by a double victory over the Adelaide Strikers where they managed scores of 187 and 172.
Their batting is in great form, and with Daniel Sams and Saqid Mahmood in great form with the ball, they are more than a chance of upsetting the apple cart here.
It’s impossible to tip against the Scorchers though.
Our best bet: Perth Scorchers win $1.65 at PlayUp
Perth Scorchers vs Sydney Sixers (Thursday, January 6, 9:15pm)
The Scorchers second match in as many nights will be a top of the table tussle with the Sydney Sixers.
While the Scorchers have form, and a record which is unmatched at the top of the table, as well as top performers dominating the stats sheet, their only real advantage here is that they may be slightly more used to the time zone than their counterparts in the Sixers.
The Scorchers have thus far made their season on a string of individual performances, stretching back to the early games when Colin Munro and Mitchell Marsh blazed big scores. The Sixers, on the other hand, with experience right up and down their squad, have played as far more of a cohesive unit.
This probably comes down to the Sixers ability to remove the dangerous Marsh and Munro though, and while their all-rounders provide excellent options in the shape of Henriques and Daniel Christian, only Sean Abbott has led the way up front, and without some ingenuity in the captaincy, the star batsmen could get themselves in before the experience hits the bowling crease.
That could prove to be the difference here, as well as the Scorchers overall strength in bowling, with five in the top 20 for wickets. Given the Sixers have, at times, struggled with the bat, it’s hard to suggest they will win this.
Scorchers in a close one.