BBL final, Sydney Sixers vs Perth Scorchers at Sydney Cricket Ground (7.40pm AEDT) —
The Big Bash League’s two best teams — this season, and historically — will take their rivalry to the next step on Saturday night in the BBL|10 final at the SCG.
While the competition’s other rivalries were created, and maintained, by geographical reasons, the friction between the Sydney Sixers and Perth Scorchers is very real.
It bubbled beneath the surface for years but can no longer be hidden as the franchises prepare to meet in a final for the fourth time in BBL history.
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So successful have the Sixers and the Scorchers been that only three BBL finals have come and gone without either taking part.
The Sixers have won two titles and are the league’s defending champions. The Scorchers are its most-successful team with three championships, but none since 2016-17.
Perth can end that mini-drought on Saturday night in their first trip to the final in four seasons.
Despite comfortably losing to the Sixers in last weekend’s Qualifier, the Scorchers are oozing confidence after crushing the Brisbane Heat on Thursday at Manuka Oval.
“The confidence within the camp is pretty special … we’ve almost played the perfect game (against Brisbane),” opener Liam Livingstone said, according to AAP.
“I hope they were watching and they’re running scared. No, the Sixers have played great cricket.”
There’s undoubtedly history between the two teams. Most notably, when they played the greatest BBL match of all time in 2014-15, when the Scorchers won the title off a fumbled run-out on the last ball.
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Moises Henriques was the man who made the error, and will have a shot at redemption on Saturday night.
But the elephant in the room pertains to what happened last time the two teams met.
The Sixers cruised to victory, but the match was marred on the last ball when James Vince was left stranded on 98 not out because AJ Tye bowled a wide for the winning run.
Tye pleads innocence and, despite claims of unsportsmanlike conduct from the likes of Michael Vaughan, there’s no reason to not believe the quick; an upstanding servant of the game.
But mistake or not, neither camp has forgotten the unpleasantness of the incident.
Livingstone believes the extra heat in the rivalry will play into the hands of the Scorchers, who finished second on the ladder, behind the Sixers.
“I guess it’ll be a bit bigger after what happened in the last game, which is great for us,” he said. “The better we (play) … when we get in a fight. So hopefully we can bring our A-game on Saturday and come out on top.”
If that plays into the Scorchers hands, the Sixers can at least count on having the home ground advantage, and a week of rest heading into the blockbuster.
Scorchers opener Jason Roy is in a race to be fit for the final after rolling his ankle before Thursday night’s Challenger final. He was replaced at the top of the order by Cameron Bancroft, who will likely keep his spot after making an unbeaten 58 against the Heat.
The Scorchers are otherwise in good health.
As are the Sixers, who haven’t felt the need to call on Australia gun Mitchell Starc for the final.
Starc became available for the match but he and the Sixers mutually agreed to not change the squad that reached the final, the club said.
“The guys have done so well this year and I think it’s in everyone’s best interests to stick with the guys that have worked so hard to get to this point,” Starc said.
There’s a small sense of deja vu with Sydney’s weather forecast once again a concerning one for the BBL final.
As of Friday night, the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) was forecasting an 80 per cent chance of 5-15mm of rain in Sydney, with the showers most likely in the afternoon and evening, as well as a thunderstorm.
The weather forecast last year was far more grim, leading to just 10,121 people watching the Sixers lift their second trophy in a 12-over-a-side game against the Melbourne Stars. Had the match been washed out — which appeared to be the likely outcome for most of the day — the Sixers would have won the title due to their higher spot on the ladder.
Big Bash officials have introduced a reserve day on Sunday this year after the near miss in 2020.
LAST TIME THEY MET
The Scorchers and Sixers have met three times this year, with Sydney winning the past two encounters.
The Sixers claimed a big nine-wicket win in last weekend’s Qualifier at Manuka Oval, two weeks after winning by seven wickets at the same venue.
Perth won their first clash of the season by 86 runs at Optus Stadium.
The two teams have met 19 times in the BBL, with the Scorchers leading the head-to-head 11-8.
Sydney Sixers (possible): Josh Philippe, James Vince, Daniel Hughes, Moises Henriques (c), Jordan Silk, Dan Christian, Carlos Brathwaite, Sean Abbott, Steve O’Keefe, Ben Dwarshius, Jackson Bird
Perth Scorchers (possible): Cameron Bancroft, Liam Livingstone, Colin Munro, Josh Inglis, Mitchell Marsh, Ashton Turner, Aaron Hardie, Jhye Richardson, Andrew Tye, Fawad Ahmed, Jason Behrendroff
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