Alfonso Thomas returns in place of Yasir Arafat. Image courtesy of skysports.com
The Perth Scorchers have had a mix of rotten luck and great fortune when it comes to imports this Big Bash. Firstly, West Indian Dwayne Smith was a no-show just before the tournament, but the West Aussies struck gold when Pakistani Yasir Arafat became available. The right-arm quick has been probably the best paceman in BBL03 taking 12 wickets in six starts while going for just 7.38 runs per over. The curse has struck again, though, with Arafat ruled out for the rest of the tournament after injuring his hand in the win over Adelaide.
The Scorchers have a better than average replacement with one of the world’s most successful T20 bowlers, Alfonso Thomas, returning to the side. The South African has struggled with a back injury this summer, though, and has picked up just one wicket in five appearances. Coach Justin Langer says the medium pacer is returning to full fitness, and his variety at the death will be crucial with Perth taking on the unbeaten Melbourne Stars on Monday.
The men from the west will go in to the match minus Nathan Coulter-Nile who has been retained in Australia’s one-day squad for the entire series against England. Lanky left-arm spinner Michael Beer is likely to return to the team, and it has been a surprise he has been left out of the squad for the majority of BBL03, given how well he bowled, often with the new ball, last season.
The Stars have squad issues of their own with super slinger Lasith Malinga heading back to Sri Lanka after his country’s board called him home to build up fitness ahead of a series with Bangladesh. Jackson Bird, who has been an absolute find in the shortest form of the game this season, is also set to miss the rest of the Stars’ finals charge after he was named in Australia’s squad for the tour of South Africa. Top order batsman Rob Quiney suffered a shoulder injury while fielding last week and won't be back for the remainder of the tournament.
One bonus for the Stars is they have been able to call up Pakistan all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez as a late replacement for Malinga. Hafeez was meant to turn out for the Renegades this season, but because he never made an appearances for the Stars' rivals, he is eligible to play for the 'green machine'. Despite the emergency of James Muirhead, the Stars have lacked a spinner who can bowl tight spells in the Big Bash and Hafeez will make them even tougher to beat if he can hit the ground running. They'll need him, too, with Muirhead and Cameron White both out due to international T20 duties.
Perth’s away form in the Big Bash this summer has been ordinary. The Scorchers stumbled against Brisbane and Adelaide on the road, but manager to record their first away victory in a super over triumph against the Sixers at the SCG.
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