Perth Scorchers 4/177 (20 Overs) Defeated Sydney Thunder 8/127 (20 Overs) @ WACA
Scorchers Go Top After Crushing Win
The Perth Scorchers are back in familiar territory at the top of the BBL6 table after a 50-run thumping of the Sydney Thunder at the WACA overnight. After steady contributions from top order players Michael Klinger, Ian Bell and Mitchell Marsh helped them post 4/177, the Scorchers torched the Thunder early, reducing them to 6/50 before they finished on a meek 8/127. With the ball, once again, the Scorchers had plenty of contributors, with Englishman David Willey again leading the attack with 2 for 21 from his overs. Perth have now won three of their opening four games to give themselves a great chance of making a sixth straight finals series since the BBL kicked off in 2011/12. The Scorchers are back in action on Thursday with an explosive home match up against fellow 3-win side the Brisbane Heat, at the WACA. The Thunder drop to 0-4 and get another crack at their first victory with a home match against the Stars on Thursday.
Thunder Listless In Another Loss
It will be a long trip home for the defending champions, the Thunder, who are now 0-4 and one loss away from elimination after a terrible start to their campaign. Last night, they were a lot better in the field, holding on to all of their catches, however their batting remains a mess. The fact that Pat Cummins has the most runs for the Thunder this series, coming in from Number 7 and Number 8, tells you exactly all you need to know about how their batting has functioned. Cummins blasted six boundaries on his way to 39 from 26 balls after coming in at another hopeless position with his side 5 for 48. I'm not exactly sure why Shane Watson is not opening the batting, however he hasn't exactly returned with a bag either, with scores of 0 and 3 batting at Number 3. Young opening batting pair Ryan Gibson and Kurtis Patterson are clearly the most inexperienced in the competition and, despite having their moments, the Thunder are pretty toothless in the Power Play. Combined with big name imports Eoin Morgan and Andre Russell misfiring for the Thunder, it's been a season to forget. I think this franchise will be looking closely at their roster over the off-season as the depth of T20 talent just isn't there.
Bell Proving Valuable
While you couldn't call a player as classy as Ian Bell a revelation, he might have snuck under a few people's guard in terms of his production and quality in this format. Already with 149 runs in 4 games, Bell has looked in outstanding touch in each game, scoring all around the wicket at a good clip. Last night, Bell came in after opener Shaun Marsh failed again, and quickly went to work compiling 45 from 38 balls, with a couple of towering 6's. What most impresses me about Bell is he is really busy from Ball 1. If he is not looking for a boundary, he is running the ball down to 3rd man, or hustling to run a 2 after working one on to the leg side. There is real intent, even if it isn't always brutal intent, and by not allowing many dot balls he is keeping the Scorchers ticking over and the opposition under pressure.
What Bell is also doing is allowing the Scorchers to keep valuable wickets in the shed, so when their big hitters come in through the middle order, they are able to play freely from Ball 1, given the platform that has been laid. The way Bell is playing he looks like be has International cricket left in him, and I think England would be foolish to not at least bring him out here when they visit for a bumper Ashes Series in Australia next summer.
Scorchers Depth Remarkable
Once again, Perth has put together a really good roster and look all set for another title challenge in BBL6. They have a clear strategy with both their batting and their bowling, and look the best coached team in the competition. Whilst they will soon lose gun Englishman David Willey to national duty, he will play Thursday's home game against the Heat before departing. Having a look through the Scorchers' list, they still have extremely talented quicks Nathan Coulter-Nile and Joel Paris. Sadly for the Scorchers, both are out with long term injuries and will miss the entire BBL6. Coulter-Nile is one of the most explosive bowling all-rounders in the country, capable of bowling at good pace and hitting a heavy ball down the order. Paris had a standout season last year and went on to play two ODI's for Australia before injury struck.
Perth have another quality fast bowler who is ready to resume shortly in left arm seamer Jason Behrendorff. Behrendorff has missed the first part of the BBL with a stress fracture in his back, however is apparently close to resuming. He would be the ideal replacement for David Willey as a fellow left arm seamer capable of swinging the ball at decent pace. Perth have won two titles and made four grand finals, and when you look through their 18-player list, you genuinely have almost a whole squad that look like they could make the First 11. Which is a lot more than can be said about some other sides who are top heavy in either batting or bowling.
Lurker Back with A Bang With Double Strike
The Lurker managed to avoid the dreaded back-to-back defeats with an emphatic victory for the Scorchers. Whilst it did not take a genius to pick Perth, the Lurker landed a monster double by predicting big all-rounder Mitchell Marsh would strike 3+ 6s in the win. That option was $5, so after a shaky start to 2017 the Lurker has steadied the ship and is now 11 from 13 for the competition. Tonight the Lurker faces a tricky assignment between two struggling outfits as the Hurricanes host the Strikers in Hobart.