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BBL Preview: 8 January – 10 January

COVID is causing mayhem across the 2021-22 Big Bash League, but a handful of big games still await across the weekend ahead. 

Brisbane Heat vs Hobart Hurricanes (Saturday January 8, 8:30pm) 

The Brisbane Heat are one club who have been hit heavily by COVID, with eight franchise debutants playing in their loss to the Melbourne Renegades on Thursday evening on the Gold Coast. 

They will be back to The Gabba for their next clash with the Hobart Hurricanes, and while they will still feel heavy impacts from isolation and quarantine, a three and six record has suddenly tossed them out of the top five, making this game as good as must-win. 

Part of their still playing squad includes star Pakistani batsman Fakhar Zaman, who has scored more than 1000 international runs in the shortest format of the game, and Afghani spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman, who, alongside countryman Rashid Khan (at the Adelaide Strikers) is one of the best in the world at his craft in the short forms of the game. 

While the international duo will need to stand up in a big way, Sam Heazlett’s form with the bat will also need to continue (188 runs to date), while Jake Lehmann’s form in his first hit-out was excellent. 

But putting that up against the might of the mostly unimpacted Hurricanes will be another challenge in itself. The Hobart-based franchise have managed four wins from their nine games to sit fourth on the competition table, and while their recent form has seen them lose to the Brisbane Heat and Adelaide Strikers, they aren’t out of the mix. 

The ‘Canes have been somewhat led by their bowling this season, with Tom Rogers taking 14 wickets, and others providing economical returns which have clamped down on opposition sides. Combined that with the batting form of Ben McDermott and Matthew Wade, and increasing form of D’Arcy Short, and it’s clear whey they are in the top four. 

They should win this one handsomely. 

Sydney Sixers vs Perth Scorchers (Sunday, January 9, 7:15pm) 

The top of the table clash heads to Coffs Harbour on Sunday evening, with the Sydney Sixers and Perth Scorchers both hoping they won’t feel the impacts of COVID any further than they already have done throughout the tournament. 

As it stands, the Sydney Sixers were one of the last teams to become impacted in the competition, while the Perth Scorchers have also been impacted. The two teams played each other just a handful of days ago on the Gold Coast, with the Scorchers running out tight winners in that contest by just ten runs. 

In a match worthy of being called a top of the table clash, it was the Scorchers’ form stars right up and down their line up who once again controlled the show for the men in orange. Andrew Tye, Tymal Mills and Ashton Agar have led the way with the ball, however, it hasn’t mattered who it has been thrown too, the Scorchers bowling and fielding has been phenomenal. 

They limited the Sixers to 133 in that clash on Tuesday, and while their batting hasn’t been fantastic outside of some excellent individual performances from time to time, it generally hasn’t had to be due to the incredible bowling performances which have continually stacked up. 

That said, the Sixers batting does have it in them to turn this around. Dan Christian was the latest man in magenta to add his name to the form list, whacking 73 off 61 balls in that match against the Scorchers, while Josh Philippe has scored 295 runs for the tournament to sit third, and Moises Henriques 262 to also be in the top ten. 

It’s those numbers alone, combined with the experience in their bowling attack, which says you can’t write the Sixers off, however, the Scorchers are favourites and it should be expected that their depth will allow them to peel off another victory. 

Melbourne Stars vs Adelaide Strikers (Monday, January 10, 2:10pm) 

The Melbourne Stars are expected to have seven returning players for this clash having completed their COVID isolation periods, and while they will be without Glenn Maxwell, that may not matter in the overall scheme of things. 

The Stars, at full strength, possess an excellent line up with both bat and ball, and English import Joe Clarke has been a breath of fresh air since his arrival, scoring 203 runs in seven innings at 29, and a strike rate of almost 150. Add that to the overall form of Hilton Cartwright, who has 256 runs at a similar strike rate, and the challenge mountain for a Strikers’ bowling attack which have struggled to contain opposition batting line ups at times this season becomes apparent. 

The Strikers currently sit seventh on the table with just two wins, and are in a must-win position here, but not only that, the South Australian franchise have failed to limit a team to under 150 in six of their last seven games, finally doing it against the Hobart Hurricanes on Wednesday. 

Those sort of numbers aren’t good enough, and with the exception of Rashid Khan, none of their bowlers have hit the mark. That, in turn, has created ridiculous pressure on the batting line up, and with a flimsy middle order not standing up – the Strikers have fallen well short more than they haven’t – it’s hardly a surprise to see their results trending towards the loss side of the ladder. 

Major improvement is needed, but even then, against a returning crop of Stars players, it’s hard to see how they win this 


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