The Adelaide Strikers will be hoping they can bounce back from a first-up defeat against the Brisbane Heat by overcoming the Perth Scorchers at the WACA on Friday.
The Scorchers much-vaunted bowling stocks have been depleted by injury with Nathan Coulter-Nile, Jason Behrendorff and Joel Paris all on the sidelines with varying ailments. In their absence the onus will fall on new signing Mitchell Johnson, canny seamer Andrew Tye and English all-rounder David Willey, while there is also likely to be an opening for talented right-arm quick Jhye Richardson.
The hosts are at least not thin on depth with all-rounders Mitchell Marsh, Ashton Agar and Ashton Turner providing captain Adam Voges with plenty of options to turn to. However in a first for the Scorchers it is their batting line-up which looks clearly superior, led by the prolific Michael Klinger who will open the innings with classy Englishman Ian Bell. Test discards Voges and Marsh add plenty of power and adaptability to the middle-order, while the Scorchers bat a long way down with Johnson potentially coming in as low as number ten.
This match did come too early for Shaun Marsh who is still battling a broken finger, allowing Cameron Bancroft a chance to bat a bit higher in the order. After a highly impressive Matador Cup campaign for South Australia, Cameron Valente has been brought in as an injury for Behrendorff and could feature in his first BBL match here.
The Strikers were left licking their wounds after they suffered a 10-run defeat at home to the Brisbane Heat on Wednesday night. Winning the toss and electing to bowl, Adelaide paid the price for their sloppiness in the field as the Heat blasted 5/206 off their 20 overs. All-rounder Michael Neser endured a particularly tough night, leaking 32 off his two overs, although more seasoned quicks Kane Richardson (1/37 off three overs) and Ben Laughlin (0/37 off three overs) did not fare much better. Had the Strikers not spilled two early chances off Alex Ross – who went on to smash 64 off 36 balls – then they may have been chasing a less imposing target.
There were positives with the ball for the Strikers though with Kieron Pollard claiming 2/27 off his four overs to go with a sharp catch, while on debut young spinner Liam O’Connor showed excellent control to relinquish just 28 off his four overs amidst the carnage. In reply an opening stand of 133 off 67 balls between Ben Dunk (85 off 43) and Jake Weatherald (52 off 30) looked to put Adelaide in control and they traded as low as 1.09, before a middle-order capitulation saw them fall 10 runs short and drop their opening game for the first time in their history.
In response to their recklessness with the ball, giant quick Billy Stanlake has been brought into the squad with the likes of Neser sure to be looking over their shoulders.
The WACA, or Furnace as it has been dubbed in the BBL, favoured the side fielding first who won three of four games last season, with the average first innings score just 8/132, although it should be noted that the chasing side scored at more than 7.80 runs an over in three of the four matches so the low totals seemed more due to good bowling than difficult conditions. At the forefront of that good bowling was Perth quick Andrew Tye who claimed eight wickets at the WACA last season at an average of 11.75 and economy rate of 6.64.
- The Scorchers have won 10 of their past 15 games.
- However the Scorchers are missing players who took 48% of their wickets last season.
- The Strikers have won seven of their past eight matches away from home.
- The last seven matches involving the Strikers have averaged 14.1 sixes.
The punters are willing to overlook Perth’s injury worries, having marked them as solid, if not overwhelming favourites, against a Strikers outfit who showed plenty of vulnerability on Wednesday.
That vulnerability from Adelaide was most evident in the field where their shaky catching was compounded by loose bowling from an attack desperately missing their linchpin Adil Rashid. The Scorchers have compiled a top order that is more than capable of exploiting those deficiencies with the ball and on the fast surface at the WACA they can be expected to score plenty of runs against this Strikers attack.
However Perth also find themselves in the unusual position of carrying an undermanned bowling unit with injury ruling out their trio of star quicks, while they have failed to sufficiently replace the evergreen spinner Brad Hogg. That begs the question of whether Adelaide themselves can take advantage of the Scorchers’ lack of resources in the field and when you consider that they were steamrolling along at more than 12 runs an over midway through their chase against the Heat, you’d be brave to suggest that they cannot.
All of this means that I’ll be giving the match odds a wide berth pre-game, however you could certainly do worse than simply back both sides when batting.
So once again we find ourselves with a match that shapes as a cocktail for big-hitting as evidenced by the fact that across both teams there are six batsmen with a strike-rate higher than 130, while there are seven bowlers with a career economy rate in excess of eight. The visiting Strikers are well versed in high-scoring contests and what stuck in the memory from their opening fixture was the way the ball flew from the bat and out of the ground – with 21 maximums in total.
The square boundaries at the WACA may not be as generous as those at the Adelaide Oval, however nor are the straight boundaries as substantial, and the pitch is generally true enough to encourage batsmen to swing through the line. Of most importance is the fact that the last seven matches involving the Strikers have averaged more than the magical mark of 14 sixes, and while Perth’s data is nowhere near as compelling it is prudent to remember that they have historically boasted a brilliant bowling attack and more lightweight batting unit, however those tables are now turned.
All things considered I have no issues with replicating our strategy for the Strikers’ opening match and siding with the big-hitters by once again backing 14 or more sixes to be struck.
BACK – Total Sixes 14 or more at 2.20 for 1 unit.