Manuka Oval. The “one in the middle of nowhere”, as most cricket purists and watchers might say.
For the Perth Scorchers and Sydney Sixers, the middle of nowhere is home tomorrow night. One of the two sides will be vying for their second Big Bash League trophy, though the Scorchers won’t want to lose hold of their defending champion’s title.
Last time they met, at the Sydney Cricket Ground before the New Year, the Scorchers upset the Sixers, much to the chagrin of the home fans. It was a night for the bowlers, with no batsman scoring over 36.
The 13 man squads
There is no denying Lee is going to relish bowling on a hard, fast WACA wicket. If there was ever a time to produced an inspired performance in his final game of cricket, it will be tonight. He has 10 wickets at an average of 25.4 for the competition, but his determination and speed every game is why Lee continues to intimidate quite a few in the BBL.
His counterparts from Perth are a pair; Behrendorff and Tye. They have 28 wickets between them, both at an average of under 17. It’s nothing to laugh at, and Behrendorff has an added factor of playing in his home territory.
Nic Maddinson: after a stellar 85 against the Strikers in the semi-final, there is no doubt Maddinson has his mojo back. Michael Lumb scored 32 in the same game before he was cruelly run out. Such a destructive left-hand opening partnership, whether batting first or second, may just be the lynchpin in this game.
Michael Carberry: has turned his game around after a poor start and critics on his back saying he wouldn’t live up to the Twenty20 hype. He, Marcus Harris and Michael Klinger make up the backbone of the Scorchers batting order for most of the season.
With the Scorchers known for being able to defend totals, Carberry’s experience is vital tonight, either chasing or setting a target.
Canberra’s pitch in recent matches has produced totals of over 250, and in Australia’s case last year, 329. With the potential rain set to clear up before the game, it’s likely we’ll see something special at Manuka.
The Scorchers have played in every Big Bash League final, having won the right to host it for the first three tournaments. Scorchers paceman Nathan Coulter-Nile echoed the thoughts of Perth supporters when he said, “It’s a bit unfortunate that we can’t have it at the WACA,” Coulter-Nile said.
“That would have been nice for four straight years, but it’s something we’ll have to come up against.”
Four days ago, the Sixers were underdogs against a rampant and booming Strikers outfit, and, while certainly not out of it, knew they were going to have to produce something special to come up with the goods.
No-one predicted the result, especially the crumbling in the chase. It was pure class from the Sixers, who made the Strikers play rash strokes and chase the target too quickly.
Luke Doran: OUT, Simon Keen: IN for the Sixers.
Perth Scorchers: unchanged
Whether the home crowd for the Sixers impacts on the Scorchers remains to be seen, but they’ve worked hard to get to the final, and won’t give up at the last hurdle.