T20 Big Bash League - KFC

Perth Scorchers CLT20 preview

20/9/2013 07:40 AM
Hogg happy

The Perth Scorchers have been the bridesmaids of the first two seasons of the KFC T20 Big Bash League, finishing runners-up at home on both occasions. 

The silver lining is that by making the Big Final you qualify for the Karbonn Smart Champions League Twenty20 and with it the chance to take home US$2.5 million.

Perth's first visit to CLT20 is one they'd like to forget. One win, two losses and a no result saw them finish last in their group. Combine that with some off-field drama it didn't make for a great campaign.

That was almost a year ago. This time there's a new coach in Justin Langer and new captain in Simon Katich, plus some personnel changes that make this Scorchers squad a serious threat.

Don't have the answer? Googly it.
Play in India, play spin, right? Well the Scorchers hope so, because they've assembled one of the most diverse spin attacks a T20 side may have ever seen. 

Veteran (and then some) Brad Hogg will lead the spinning stocks. It's been well documented what a sensation he's been since returning from retirement and it's hard to see him slowing down. He still has one of the best wrong'uns in world cricket, consistently duping batsman the world over. Looking around the globe there aren't many left-arm chinamen in cricket. An ace up Perth's sleeve fo sho.

They say one is better than two, so Justin Langer has two left-arm orthodox spinners to choose from. Depending on how the wicket appears he might play both. Michael Beer has been one of the most economical bowlers in the BBL, even though he regularly opens the bowling for the men from The Furnace. His friend in hand will be wonder kid Ashton Agar, who can almost be classified as a bowling all-rounder. Where do you start with young Ash? His incredible Ashes debut will go down in history as one of the best by the last man in, not to mention his willing bowling. This attack looks pretty strong already, but wait, there's more.

Three left-arm spinners doesn't sound diverse. "You lied to us," we can hear you say. Then let's throw in right-arm offies Ashton Turner and Marcus North. Both these guys have played for Australia (that makes five from five so far) albeit in differing circumstances. These guys provide Simon the skipper another option away from left-hand batsmen, and he can also bowl himself or Adam Voges (seven from seven). Plenty of choices to say the least.

Even though it looks like it's spin to win, we can't forget the guys who run in and bust their guts. Alfonso Thomas, Jason Behrenforff and Burt Cockley will send down the thunder and lightning. Thomas turned the Scorchers' BBL season around last year after heading further west from Adelaide. His experience and calming attitude settled the squad, oh and he bowled amazingly well too. That helps. Bowling is most definitely Perth's ticket to the semi-finals.

Right out of the middle
If there is a surplus of bowling then there is demand for its batting counterpart. Perth have lost some key batsman for this crusade, most notably both Marsh brothers. This now puts extra pressure on Katich, Voges and Marcus North who was originally left out before replacing the injured Shaun Marsh.

Those three wise heads will nurture the likes of Liam Davis and Sam Whiteman. Davis has been around the Western Australia set-up for a number of years now, peeling off an astounding 303 not out in the Bupa Sheffield Shield. At 29 he's in the prime zone for batsmen and needs to find consistency in Perth's light-on top-order. The talent is most definitely there. Whiteman on the other hand is only 21-years-old and has his whole career still ahead of him. Lefty with the bat and dons the gloves in the field, he could be in a fight with Tom Triffitt for the wicketkeeping responsibilities. 

One major asset for Orange Nation is their captain, Simon Katich. Fifteen CLT20 matches under his belt, stacks of captaincy experience and the form to really make an impact. He captained the New South Wales Blues to the Champions League title in its inaugural year, so he knows how to win these things. The respect he draws from his teammates and the cricketing fraternity is what really separates him as a leader. Under his guidance the Scorchers can make a real dent in this year's tournament.

Watch out for this guy
Hard to go past Ashton Agar. #ashtag set the twitterverse on fire when he made his Test debut earlier in the year, making 98 in one of the most breathtaking innings cricket has seen. Everyone talks about his batting but he was selected for his bowling and he did well, dismissing Alistair Cook with a beauty to claim his first Test scalp. He was also at the centre of the Stuart Broad/Aleem Dar controversy. We don't like talking about that. 

Agar is unproven in T20 cricket. He's yet to represent the Scorchers in the shortest format of the game so there is an air of mystery about him. It doesn't really matter, you know he's going to kill it. That carefree attitude with the bat is perfect for T20 cricket and will be called upon to score vital runs even at his tender age. An exciting talent. Watch this space.

The run

Date  Opponent  Venue 
23/09  Highveld Lions  Ahmedabad 
25/09  Otago Volts  Jaipur 
29/09  Rajasthan Royals  Jaipur 
02/10  Mumbai Indians  Delhi 

Like the Brisbane Heat, Perth have two foreign teams then two IPL teams. Seems like the best draw of the lot.

Where to next?
Follow the Scorchers CLT20 campaign via their Twitter account @ScorchersBBL