Perth Pushes For Finals Berth

Picture: Nikki Davis-Jones/news.com.au
Simon Katich smashed 66 in Perth's last clash with Hobart. Image courtesy of news.com.au/Nikki Davis-Jones
Twenty20 cricket is meant to be a young man’s game but try telling that to the Perth Scorchers . So far this season it has been forty-something Brad Hogg and 38-year-old Simon Katich steering the Scorchers through BBL03. Katich cracked 75 off 42 batting with a broken finger last start as Perth reeled in Sydney Thunder at The Furnace and his timing of the ball through the offside, in particular, was immaculate. Hogg, meantime, has the competition’s best economy rate going at just 5.50 runs per over while he has also picked up five crucial wickets. Even after a decade-and-a-half in domestic cricket, most batsmen still seem baffled by his wrong ‘un and teams seem quite content with just working him around without taking too many risks.

If the Scorchers are to continue pushing on towards a third straight Big Bash grand final, they’ll need more contributions from their younger players. Speedster Patrick Cummins made his return in grade cricket at the weekend, but won’t be ready for Tuesday night’s clash with Hobart . Mitchell Marsh has performed well in fits and spurts this tournament but is yet to put together a complete performance with bat and ball . He batted smartly with Katich against Thunder to reach a tricky target. Perth gets another big-hitting quick, Nathan Coulter-Nile , back for this clash after his selection in the Australia squad for the Sydney Test.

The Hurricanes haven’t been able to get started this tournament with a no result first up against Adelaide before posting the biggest successful run chase in the history of the Big Bash against Brisbane in round two. They were simply terrible at home against the in-form Renegades last start on New Year’s Day, though, going down by 51 runs. Tim Paine top-scored with 31 in an awful run chase while Ben Laughlin was outstanding with the ball collecting 3/16.

They really need more from their overseas players if they’re to make the top four this campaign. Owais Shah has made just six runs from two innings while Shoaib Malik has been expensive with the ball going at over nine runs per over, in stark contrast to the likes of fellow imported tweakers Daniel Vettori and Muttiah Muralitharan who have been miserly for their teams so far . Ben Dunk produced the fireworks to get his team home at the ‘Gabba with 67 off 33, but Hobart needs contributions throughout the order to get the chocolates on a regular basis. Ben Hilfenhaus has also been a disappointment; a couple of seasons back he pushed his way back in to the Test team with a brilliant performance at the WACA in BBL01, but he has conceded 90 runs from his eight overs so far this edition as he battles side and back issues.

The two players who top-scored for their respective teams in their previous matches – Katich and Paine – were the primary run-getters in the match-up between the sides in BBL02. Laughlin was also outstanding picking up 3/19 while Hogg collected 3/17 as Hobart won by six wickets with nine balls remaining. These teams don’t clear the boundary rope as often as the more brutal sides in the tournament; Perth has hit just ten 6s this BBL while Hobart has nine maximums, the lowest in the competition, albeit from just two full games.

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