Cricket: Big Bash Final Preview

Perth Scorchers v Sydney Sixers 

Big Bash League Finals January 28

Marvel Stadium, Melbourne (8.40am UK)

Watching yesterdays Challenger clash between Sydney and Adelaide Strikers just reinforced how beautiful a beast sport is.

Everything pointed to Adelaide winning that game from the moment it was revealed that Sixers star batter Josh Philippe had gone down with Covid.

The Sixerssquad had been ransacked by Covid issues and injuries on top. And it wasnt over. During the match, Steve OKeefe suffered a calf injury and Jordan Silk a hamstring injury, forcing him down the batting order later in the game.

Inexplicably, Cricket Australia had prevented Steve Smith, a man who has bean a Sixer since day dot, from playing. It wasnt as if they were wanting to parachute any old Tom, Dick or Harry into their squad.

Everything was against the men in magenta.

Then they got the chance to stick two fingers up at bureaucracy.

Needing two to win off the last ball with non-striker Silk at the crease and unable to run, they retired him hurt and brought in a fitter man Jay Lenton purely to run. Absolute genius! 

Ok, you have to feel incredibly sorry for good people like Jason Gillespie, who has done a brilliant job in helping guide the Strikers from losing seven of their first eight group games to the brink of glory.

But we do have the final between the two best teams in the BBL.

Perth’s heavy favouritism is justified – even if Smith is finally allowed to play

As special as their thrilling last ball, four-wicket win over Adelaide was, you would have to be a brave person to side with Sixers at 2/1 with bet365.

They are missing a host of players, mostly with the bat. As aforementioned, Josh Philippe is missing, Jack Edwards is, Jordan Silk will surely be too.

It has also been reported that captain Moises Henriques now has a bit of a calf issue, meaning they will again ask the million dollar question as to whether Steve Smith can play. It wouldn’t surprise me if this time Cricket Australia relent.

Even so, you have to say the Scorchers are justifiably heavy favourites, at 4/9 with a host of bookmakers, to win at their adopted – Covid travel restrictions enforced – home ground in Melbourne. 

Betfair, Ladbrokes and Paddy Power are amongst those offering that price.

They have won 12 of 15 games so far, and you get the feeling tomorrow is going to be a bridge too far for the men from the Harbour City. 

Marsh to double up with T20 titles after World Cup success with Australia 

Mitch Marsh, the Scorchers captain, has been superb with the bat in this tournament, posting 342 runs in seven matches, including an unbeaten hundred.

The fact that he is not much higher in the run-scorers charts owes much to him being unavailable for more than half of the games. 

Having won the T20 World Cup with the Aussies in November, he is primed to add another trophy his cabinet. 

He was player of the match in that final against New Zealand with an unbeaten 77, and I suspect he will perform in another big dance, as the Aussies say. 

He is 5/1 to be player of the match again with Virgin Bet, which would not be a surprise, and 9/4 to be their top run-scorer in the match.

Now, with the strength of the Scorchers batting – Kurtis Patterson has had an excellent tournament, so has Colin Munro and Josh Inglis found form last time out – it could be that he has competition for that top run-scorer tag. 

So why not take the others out of the equation and back him to just score a fifty at 5/2 with bet365. That would seem to be the smarter move. 

After all, he would be very lucky to be top bat without a fifty to his name at a venue which has already produced three 200 plus scores – there have been nine in total across the competition in 2021/22.

Another all-rounder is riding the wave. Can Kerr purr again? 

For the Eliminator game, I suggested Hayden Kerr as the bet to be Sydneys top bowler and he ended up as their top bat with a superb 98 having been elevated to open. Typical, hey! 

But what that does suggest is that he is right at the top of his game. 

He is the competitions second leading wicket-taker with 24 wickets, he has to open the batting again, and he has also chipped in with four catches.

bet365 have his match performance – 20 points a wicket, 10 a catch and one a run – at over or under 41.5 at 5/6. 

I would be keen to side with Kerr and take him to top 41.5.