Perth Scorchers v Sydney Thunder
Thursday, 10:15, Live on Sky Sports
Scorchers negotiating all obstacles
Given the circumstances, the Scorchers are having an excellent season. That they played and won on Tuesday, having been asked to play the Sixers at such short notice after the Heat had a Covid outbreak in the camp, is sign of a team with serious resolve and good options in the squad.
And by circumstances, I mean the fact they’ve been on the road all season, have had two players testing positive for Covid and have lost plenty more through international call-ups.
Josh Inglis and Mitch Marsh have missed games early on in the season playing for Australia A and the two pair of them mis this one again as they’re cover for Travis Head (who has Covid) or any other player in the Ashes squad who might get it.
Nick Hobson and Matt Kelly have Covid themselves, while Tymal Mills, who had a really good season up to this point won’t be featuring after the ECB requested that all players part of their T20 squad for a series in the Caribbean, go home early.
So that’s five important players missing, Mills and Marsh perhaps the biggest losses of the lot.
But they’re currently top and once they get some of those back, could be very much the team to beat.
Scorchers’ Likely XI:
Bancroft, Patterson, Munro, Evans, Turner, Hardie, Agar, Tye, Behrendoff, Hatzoglou, Moody.
Absences starting to hurt the Thunder
It’s a good thing the Thunder secured back-to-back wins against the Strikers in the last week because they have some serious problems of their own to contend with.
Alex Hales, Alex Ross, Tanveer Sangha and Sam Whiteman all have Covid and all miss out here.
But that’s not all. Saqib Mahmood and Sam Billings, like Mills, are on their way home.
Those are two huge losses.
Sam Billings is much more than just a keeper. He’s a superb T20 batsman and an excellent on-field lieutenant to his skipper: barking orders, demanding better fielding efforts and keeping his team’s players on their toes.
Mahmood is a big loss, too. He took 11 wickets in the five games he played and though 8.84 runs an over is on the costly side, a strike rate of 10.3 means he’s easily forgiven.
The Thunder are sitting pretty in third and a win here would make them real Top 2 contenders.
Thunder Likely XI:
Gilkes, Cutting, Sangha, Holt, Davies, Sams, Nair, McAndrew, Green, Sandhu, Hasnain.
Venue and conditions
We’re at Carrara for this one.
It’s where a depleted Renegades side posted just 140/6, which was easily chased by the Heat. Given that was the only match played here this year and no games were held there last year, there’s really not much to go by.
Presumably the Thunder will want to bat first after posting good totals against the Strikers twice, both easily defended.
Then again, without being too unkind towards the Strikers, it almost doesn’t matter what you do against that lot because they’re always there for the taking.
For what it’s worth, the Thunder won this fixture earlier on in the season. They scored 200 batting first and won by 34 runs, the Scorchers’ only defeat of the season.
And despite the fact that the Scorchers are the joint-most successful side in the BBL and that the Thunder were extremely fortunate to win it once, the head-to-head is beautifully poised at 7-7.
The Scorchers are somewhat understandably favourites at 1.748/11 with the Thunder 2.35/4. But in all honesty, I think there has to be more to predicting a match winner in a game of T20 than just trying to work out who’s less affected by the numerous absences.
So, with that in mind, I’ll happily swerve this market.
We had a winning bet last time out with the Thunder hitting more sixes than the Strikers. They were favourites that day at 1.758/11 but are considerable outsiders this time.
But should they be as big as 2.6413/8? Maybe not.
The Thunder have hit 53 sixes this season. Six came from the bat of Alex Ross and six from Alex Hales. Billings hit 12. All three will be absent, as we know.
The Scorchers have hit 61, including seven in their last match. Worth remembering they’ve played a game more than the Thunder.
Unsurprisingly the ‘Big Bison’ Mitch Marsh has accounted for 12 of them, and Inglis two. Both of those are unavailable.
So all things considered, there’s not actually that much in it and I think the prices should be a lot closer.
I actually think the Thunder’s absences, which have brought big-hitting Oliver Davies back into the team and meant Ben Cutting is opening, increase their chances of hitting more maximums than the way the team was set up at the start of the season.
And if none of this sounds massively scientific, I think the reasoning is just about strong enough to justify a punt on them at very decent odds.
Jason Sangha is almost a case of ‘last-man standing’ when it comes to a candidate for top Thunder batsman.
Hales has been out of sorts but can turn it on at any moment, Ross has had perhaps the best season in a while this year and Billings is nothing if not consistent.
Billings is the Thunder’s top batsman at this point (265 runs), Ross the third highest (181).
So that’s three real threats (to Sangha) out of the equation.
He’s been excellent since coming into the team and is averaging almost 80, helped by two not outs. He has 239 runs.
Cutting (3/1) is doing ok as a makeshift opener but his job is mostly to get off to a fast start while Matt Gilkes (16/5) had an excellent game last time out but can be a bit hit and miss.
Sangha was already a pick for me at 3/1 and is certainly one at a boosted 7/2.