PREVIEW-Cricket-Scorchers, Sixers battle for BBL supremacy in season decider
You defend your fort at home, but then you go and invade the fort when you're away." The length of Cricket Australia's marquee domestic competition has come into focus this season, as many matches have been played before a smattering of spectators and small television audiences.
Bragging rights are at stake on Friday when Perth Scorchers and Sydney Sixers, the Big Bash League's (BBL) most decorated clubs with three titles apiece, lock horns in the tournament final at Docklands Stadium in Melbourne.
The Sixers enter the Twenty20 decider battered and bruised, with several players nursing injuries from Wednesday's knockout win against Adelaide Strikers - secured with a last-ball boundary from all-rounder Hayden Kerr (150 runs and 24 wickets this season). Former Australia captain Steve Smith is set to continue his campaign for selection, having been controversially deemed ineligible under the current rules surrounding COVID-19 replacements, as wicketkeeper Josh Philippe is sidelined with after testing positive for the virus.
Meanwhile, despite a gruelling travel schedule and their own battles with coronavirus infections and national call-ups, the Scorchers stormed to the final with 12 wins from 15 matches. The Western Australia (WA) based team boast in-form batsman Mitchell Marsh (342 runs at 68.40) and a fearsome pace attack featuring Jhye Richardson, Jason Behrendorff and Andrew Tye.
"They've probably had the toughest of it of any team, in the way they've had to pack up, move away from their family, situate themselves over east and not come back for Christmas," former Australia spinner Brad Hogg told Reuters. The Scorchers played one home match in December before relocating to the country's east because of travel restrictions in WA, the only state yet to re-open its border.
"It shows the unity within the team, the leadership within the team, the camaraderie within the team. This has probably been the best performance I've seen of a franchise team anywhere in the world," said Hogg, who represented the Scorchers between 2011 and 2016. "The best teams are the ones that when they travel, they win. You defend your fort at home, but then you go and invade the fort when you're away."
The length of Cricket Australia's marquee domestic competition has come into focus this season, as many matches have been played before a smattering of spectators and small television audiences. Conducted alongside the Ashes series, top international players have been unavailable for much of the eight-week BBL as swathes of grade cricketers made up the numbers.
"We're just haphazard with all our fixturing, both international and state ... (by) trying to fit too much in such a small calendar," Hogg said, noting that a short, sharp BBL is the best way to attract supporters. "I think there's been a lot of greed within sport generally."
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