Sydney Thunder v Sydney Sixers
Thursday, 17 December 19:40
This season’s Big Bash League kicks-off with the eighth Sydney Derby at the Thunder’s new permanent home Spotless Stadium.
The home side will be looking for their first ever victory over their bitter rivals the Sixers and come into this year’s competition with arguably their strongest ever squad. The bowling attack has been boosted by the addition of Clint McKay and Fawad Ahmed although their batting stocks have been hit by the omission of Usman Khawaja whose return from injury has been delayed. Marquee all-rounders Shane Watson and Andre Russell add power and versatility to a side built around last year’s core of Jacques Kallis, Mike Hussey, Aiden Blizzard and Gurinder Sandhu.
The Sixers, who came perilously close to claiming last year’s title, have also made some changes to their bowling attack with Jackson Bird and Johan Botha recruited to offset the loss of talisman Brett Lee. The batting looks very strong up top with prosperous opening pair Nic Maddinson and Michael Lumb likely followed by Brad Haddin, now available following his international retirement, however with captain Moises Henriques injured and Steve Smith unavailable there are some holes in their middle-order with a strong reliance on Sean Abbott for quick runs at the death.
Spotless Stadium hosted only two matches in last year’s tournament which both resulted in miserly first innings scores from the home side – 7/77 off 17 overs and 8/106 off the full 20. Although both targets were chased down relatively comfortably, the majority of batsmen still struggled to score at more than a run-a-ball in conditions that were very difficult for batting.
Looking at how the two sides will line-up I don’t think this is quite the mismatch that the market suggests. The Thunder might be slightly lower on quality in their nucleus but they clearly have more depth in both their batting and bowling, with the Sixers middle-to-lower order a definite concern. Furthermore if conditions at Spotless are anything like they were last season then that should further suit the Thunder’s bowling attack, in particular Sandhu, Ahmed and Kallis.
The 2.40 for the Thunder looks big to me so I would happily back that, then look to trade out once they get shorter than 1.70 given their inability to get over the line in previous Sydney derbies.