Shaun Marshes In To Scorchers Line-up

Picture: Daniel Wilkins/
After a rollercoaster campaign where, at times, they have looked anything but a grand finalist, the Perth Scorchers are back to where they’ve been the past two seasons, hosting the Big Bash decider. Home ground advantage counted for little in defeats to the Sydney Sixers and Brisbane Heat the first two times the biggest match of the season has been held at The Furnace, and the Scorchers will be hoping it’s a case of third time lucky when the Hobart Hurricanes visit on Friday night. Their chances of overcoming their hoodoo have received a massive boost with batsman Shaun Marsh in line to return from a calf injury which kept him out of Australia’s tour of South Africa.

The Hurricanes’ surge to the final is eerily reminiscent of Brisbane Heat’s charge in BBL02. The teams, again, met in the final round of the competition, with a finals spot at stake, but this time it was the Tassie boys coming up trumps. They then knocked the top-ranked Melbourne Stars off in the semi-final, as Brisbane did in defeating the Renegades last season.

A large amount of the team’s success can be put down to the opening combination of former Australian wicket-keeper Tim Paine , and the tournament’s big surprise packet, another gloveman in the former of Ben Dunk . The latter was named the best player in BBL03 last week, while Paine backed up some salary cap speculation involving the Stars by smashing 65 against them on Tuesday night. They have posted 50 partnerships in three of their last four games.

Another left-hander, like Dunk, has taken the Big Bash by storm this season, but in a less consistent fashion. Stocky West Aussie Craig Simmons has exploded with two centuries, including a brilliant 112 in the semi-final victory over the Sydney Sixers, which backed up his record-setting ton scored off 39 balls against Adelaide earlier in the campaign. Sixers ‘keeper, Dan Smith – another player who could do with some serious work on his fitness – sledged Simmons at the start of his innings after scoring just five runs off his first 16 balls, but was made to eat his words after the Scorchers slugger smoked 94 off his next 37 balls including an astonishing 11 sixes.

Simmons managed just eight in a six-run win over the Hurricanes earlier this season, as the Scorchers overcame four run outs to prevail, thanks in large part to Nathan Coulter-Nile’s return of 3/15. That was the first time Perth has managed to overcome Hobart in the Big Bash after the southerners won the first two encounters. The Hurricanes have contained Scorchers Energizer bunny Brad Hogg well in the last two meetings at the WACA; this season he went wicketless in four overs while last season his figures were 1/27 off three overs. While Perth has a strong pace attack, milking Hogg for runs whilst avoiding the loss of wickets against the Chinaman will be absolutely vital. Without the injured Yasir Arafat, the Scorchers will need to find another paceman to close the innings out, with Alfonso Thomas likely to get the job.

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