Perth Scorchers (0-0) v Adelaide Strikers (0-1) @ WACA
Preview - The Scorchers start their campaign at home looking to get back to the Grand Final after missing it for the first time in 2015/16. The Scorchers are the most successful franchise in the history of the BBL, going to four straight Grand Finals and winning two of them, before falling at the Semi Final Stage last season. The Scorchers have build up a formidable record at the WACA over the past five years in front of what is nearly always a sold out and boisterous crowd. The Strikers haven't had long to rue a game that got away from them at home to the Heat on Wednesday night. The Strikers were in command at 1/128 after 12 overs chasing 205, however their run chase faded late as the Heat went on to claim a 10-run victory. The Strikers actually have a good record against the Scorchers, having won five out of nine overall and the last two games at the WACA.
Perth Scorchers Scouting Report - The Scorchers have a very experienced batting line up coming into BBL6. The likes of Michael Klinger, Adam Voges and Ian Bell are three old wise heads that will be relied upon to do the bulk of the scoring. You could make an argument that this team might be a bit "old and stale" and these guys aren't going to scare opponents, however they are all quality batsmen in their own right. Klinger actually has an outstanding T20 record, averaging nearly 39 with a strike rate of 127, and he could easily make a claim to being in the top two or three top order T20 players in the country. Voges averages 31 and strikes at 126 and, somewhat surprisingly, it is Ian Bell who has the most modest record averaging 28 with a strike rate of just 121 through 67 T20 games. Sam Whiteman is a player who could easily explode on to the scene this year for the Scorchers. Whiteman, a wicket keeper batsman, has been in outstanding form in the Scorchers' warm up games, racking up scores of 73n/o, 50 and 110n/o. He is likely to open the innings, and be asked to lay a platform for their hitters down the order. You don't get many bigger hitters than Mitchell Marsh and he can win a game for the Scorchers off his own bat if he comes off. Marsh has an average of 29 with a surprisingly low strike rate of 120, however is capable of causing havoc with the short straight boundaries at the WACA if he gets his eye in. Overall you would have to say it's a pretty strong Scorchers batting line up with Mitchell Johnson capable of coming in at 8 and clearing the pickets.
The Scorchers prized recruit, Mitchell Johnson, should be fresh and ready to let rip after 12 months out of the game. Johnson is an out and out strike bowler and capable of intimidating at his beloved home, the WACA, if there is pace and carry. Johnson has 94 wickets from 82 T20's at the respectable economy rate of 7.74. Andrew Tye has been one of the star performers over the past few years of the BBL, having taken 49 wickets from 39 T20s at an economy rate of 7.8. While those stats don't necessarily stand out, it is Tye's ability to bowl outstandingly at the death with his yorkers and variations that has often proved match winning. Rounding out a strong Scorchers pace attack is Cameron Valante and Mitchell Marsh. Valante was an unknown quantity before he burst on to the scene in the recent Matador Cup, taking 15 wickets at an average of 16 through intelligent changes of pace. While Valante will hover around the mid-120s, and often bowl a lot slower with his change ups, Mitchell Marsh is capable of cranking it up. Whilst he can go for runs, he is capable of bowling at good speed and getting batsmen hopping around. The big loss for the Scorchers is Brad Hogg, who for mine is simply irreplaceable. Ashton Agar will do a serviceable job. However I don't think he can go anywhere close to commanding and impacting a game like Brad Hogg has over the years. To me, it's mystifying that the Scorchers can let Hogg slip through their fingers to the Renegades. However money may have been an issue in luring Mitchell Johnson.
Adelaide Strikers Scouting Report - The Strikers put on a pretty encouraging batting display despite going down to the Heat on Wednesday. To score 6/196 in your first game is a good effort, and that total was built around their opening pair of Ben Dunk and Jake Weatherald. I thought Dunk would prove a good signing for the Strikers and he didn't let us down in Game 1 with a slashing 85 from just 43 balls with 5 sixes. Weatherald was perhaps the surprise packet, scoring 52 from 30 balls with 4 sixes. Travis Head was off his game that night because he is a high quality player, and along with Brad Hogg and Keiron Pollard it's an in form and pretty strong Top 5 that the Strikers have. Pollard failed to fire the other night, however was undone by a brilliant yorker by Ben Cutting.
Where the Strikers need to lift their game is with the ball and in the field as they were overwhelmed a bit by an explosive Heat batting line up on Wednesday night, conceding 6/206 from 20 Overs. Neser, Richardson, Laughlin and Jordan all went around the park and seemed to be a bit wild and wooly in their approach. Their shorter balls were ill directed and I felt they failed to use their change ups enough, as the likes of McCullum and Lynn really enjoyed the pace on the ball. Richardson and Jordan need to be taking wickets as they are unlikely to be the sort of bowlers that are going to tie the opposition down. Clearly the Strikers' best bowler in Game 1 was Keiron Pollard who used all his canny angles and gamesmanship to drag Adelaide back into the contest. He also took a magnificent boundary catch in a game where Travis Head put down two simple chances. The Strikers were well served by debuting leg spinner Liam O'Connor, however it will be interesting to see how he fares now teams have a bit of film on him. I'm really surprised they didn't use Travis Head as a dart bowler through the middle overs, and I'm sure he will be called upon tonight.
Verdict - Really interesting game here as the Strikers have a really good record in Perth. I think this will be be a pretty high scoring game with 180+ a very real possibility for both sides on a good wicket with plenty of carry. I think the Scorchers are going to miss Hogg this campaign, so their batting might have to be a little more explosive than usual. With Adelaide having had a run under their belts, I expect their fast bowlers to improve on their rusty performance on Wednesday. Again, it's very hard to split these two teams, I expect this match to go right down to the final over.
The Lurker - "I like a Perth circuit and the furnace will be cranking for this season opener. I see the Scorchers getting the chocolates here in a high scoring game with both sides heavy on quality sticks. This game doesn't finish until around midnight, so I might have to read the paper the next day to find out if I'm 5 from 5! For your multiples throw in David Willey to jag the most poles for the Scorchers, and Klinger to score 25+ in a Perth win."