About the Match
The much-awaited Big Bash League 2017/18 is about to get underway with a cross-city rivalry to start things off. We have the Sydney Sixers, finalists in the last edition, take on the Sydney Thunder, the team that finished last, in a matchup that may seem uneven at first glance. A closer look at the two teams shows that Sydney Thunder is a vastly improved team and could surprise a few people with their results.
The off-season has been a busy one for the Sydney Thunder recruitment staff as they managed to make quite a few useful additions to their squad for this season. Their batting has been beefed up with by the arrival of Jos Buttler and Callum Ferguson, while Mitchell McClenaghan will add to an already strong bowling lineup.
One of the biggest things that kept Sydney Thunder from competing consistently in the last edition was their lack of batting depth. This year, there is hope that a fully fit Shane Watson, Kurtis Patterson, Callum Ferguson, and Jos Buttler will be able to provide enough runs for their team.
Watson made the headlines last week when he hit 16 sixes in a warm-up game, Jos Buttler has been busy playing T20 cricket in Bangladesh and will no doubt love the hard, bouncy wickets that he will encounter in Australia, and Patterson will want to repeat his success from last year.
We have a feeling, though, that most of the victories that Thunder end up recording this year will be because of their bowling. Fawad Ahmed is an aggressive wrist-spinner that is constantly looking for wickets, Chris Green is accurate and difficult to get away, while both the fast bowlers have proven themselves in T20 cricket around the world.
Mitch McClenaghan has helped his IPL franchise win the title twice and has a happy knack of picking up wickets while Clint McKay is a former Australian international who dominated the NatWest T20 blast this year.
Sydney Thunder may be rated as the underdogs in this match but they are a much stronger side than last year.
Keeping the core of the same squad that had so much success last year was almost a given. Players like Daniel Hughes (304 runs in BBL 06), Sean Abbott (20 wickets in BBL 06), and Moises Henriques had exceptional seasons to propel the Sydney Sixers onwards.
We cannot help but feel, however, that Johan Botha has outlived his worth to the team and that certain players like Nic Maddinson returning from injury, Sam Billings, and Jason Roy are all a little unreliable when it comes to their current form.
Jason Roy can be hit and miss, something that teams are willing to forgive in T20 cricket but past record suggests that the misses are a lot more frequent of late than the hits. Sam Billings too has been having a quiet year after a spectacular last year where he caught the attention of the national selectors and leagues from all over the world.
This is a batting lineup which could falter quite easily under sustained pressure. The Sixers also seem a little light on the bowling which will depend heavily on Abbott and Dwarshius. While Sean Abbot may have picked up a tournament-leading 20 wickets last season, there was an element of fortune associated with a lot of his wickets.
We can see him having a poor year with the same kind of bowling very easily.
Dwarshius is a good prospect, he picked 13 wickets last year and will be our bowler to watch out for in this Sixers squad. Look for the kind of form that Maddinson brings to the team this year because that could affect the Sixers fortunes massively.
Pitch and Conditions
There is a 20% chance of rain at the moment on match day with most locals predicting a rain-affected encounter. The pitch is usually excellent for batting and short boundaries make for some solid six-hitting opportunities for the batsmen.
We expect a high scoring match, irrespective of the number of overs that are finally able to be bowled.
The head to head between the two teams is 8-3 in favor of the Sixers. More crucially, though, all of Sydney Thunder's three victories have come in the last two years. At the Sydney Showground Stadium as well, the Thunder hold a 2-1 advantage over the Sixers.
Sydney Thunder to wi