Now titled the “Sydney Smash”, Saturday’s game between the two rivals gets an extra boost, with both Steve Smith (Sydney Sixers) and David Warner (Sydney Thunder) released from Australian duties.
The Sixers were victorious in both clashes last year, while the Thunder just couldn’t find the legs to get off the ground in BBL|02. A different story looms on the horizon 12 months later.
BBL|02 position: 7th
Plenty of talent rests with the magenta, now it is just a matter of putting in the on-field performances. The addition of Mark Cosgrove, Chris Tremlett and Jordan Silk adds experience, youth and some very good talent to the list.
Brett Lee will continue to steam in for the Sixers, and will need to show the others how it is done. With Twenty20 being a game of strategy from ball one, Lee has both the pace and subtle changes to be a wicket-taking weapon.
Steve Smith will also don the magenta top for Saturday night’s clash. After a match and career-defining century in Perth, confidence is going to be an important factor for the 24 year old in transferring across to the shortest format of the game.
The Sixers have also managed to recruit Sean Abbott over from the Thunder. At just 22, his career continues to develop, and the Thunder found his late-hitting in both BBL|01 and BBL|02 as a big asset. With Moses Henriques also at the all-rounder helm, the Sixers look strong.
BBL|02 position: 8th
One talking point is no Chris Gayle. The plus side: David Warner will, like Smith, dive straight in to the side on Saturday night. Warner’s destructive batting plays to his advantage in Twenty20.
Not only that, Sri Lankan player Tilakaratne Dilshan will also going be wielding the willow. The “Dilscoop”, as invented by the right-hander, has become part of cricket folklore. Dilshan adds huge knowledge of how to construct an innings in a Twenty20, giving the top order yet another reason to smile.
Looking at the bowling attack, and Dirk Nannes is leading it again. In BBL|02, his record stands at 11 wickets at an economy rate of 6.50. Variation and cunning as a quick bowler is everything in Twenty20; get it wrong and the batsmen will pounce.
Nannes rarely lets his targets do that, and having Chris Tremain, Scott Coyte and Gurinder Sandhu to back him up, the Thunder now only need to get the line and length right to be a major contender
A renewed energy has been circling in the Thunder camp for several weeks now. The batting line-up has been bolstered heavily, bringing in the specialists. Michael Hussey joins the team as well, adding a brilliant finisher into the mix. Nannes works at the death extremely well, and a new approach will set the boys from the west in good stead.
For the Sixers, there are plenty of options for the opening partnership. The SCG will give both batsmen and bowlers opportunity to stake claims. Nic Maddinson has shown he wants to make a move into the Australian side, and with eight group stage matches, there is no better time to do so.
Thunder by 15 runs: there is just enough firepower in the Thunder line-up to bat first and score big.