January 23, 2020
Brisbane Heat v Sydney Sixers
Venue: The Gabba | Start: 7:10pm (AEDT)
Brisbane Heat – It’s difficult to remember a time in Big Bash history when the criticism of a side has been as strong as what the Heat have copped in recent days. In losing 10-36 (including 7-7) against the bottom-placed Renegades, Darren Lehmann’s side lost the unlosable at the Gabba, leaving themselves in a spot of bother in BBL09. The criticism was swift and damning. “You cannot cater for, and you cannot coach stupidity,” former Heat skipper Brendon McCullum said. Ricky Ponting would go on to call it “one of the all-time great chokes”. When given the chance to respond, skipper Chris Lynn did not mince his words, either. “I can’t really sugarcoat it; it was just a piss-poor effort, another embarrassing effort,” he said after his rollicking 41 off just 15 balls took his side to 0-84 in the sixth over before the ensuing meltdown. “We’re doing all the right things at training, but I don’t know what goes on out in the middle because we just seem to panic. And then it’s not just a wicket or two, it’s a train wreck. Something’s got to change.”
What that ‘something’ is needs to happen fast. At 5-6, the Heat are now outside the finals spots in sixth, requiring at least two and possibly even three wins from their last three games to secure a finals berth. One change that could bring a spark to the side is the darling of Australian cricket, Marnus Labuschagne, who returns for the Heat.
Sydney Sixers – Just as Marnus returns for the Heat, so too do Steve Smith and Josh Hazlewood for the Sixers in perhaps the biggest ‘ins’ we’ve seen this season. The pair, alongside Test teammate Nathan Lyon, bring a huge dose of experience to Greg Shipperd’s side for the backend of BBL09 and into the finals. Incredibly, it will be Smith’s first Big Bash game in six years after international fixtures have usually got in the way of his presence in the domestic T20 tournament. But with the T20 World Cup later this year, he is using every possibly chance he gets in the game’s shortest format. So too is Hazlewood, who has made public his ambition to be there come October.
After victory against the table-topping Stars, the Sixers enter this one full of confidence. Skipper Moises Henriques’ 72 off 31 bodes well going into the business end of the season. The Sixers will have to make a tough call at the selection table with the two returning Aussie stars. Hazlewood will likely come in for Jackson Bird given the similar role they play while Smith could come in for Jordan Silk after a disappointing campaign, forcing a top order reshuffle.
Betting Analysis – The Gabba track, despite the home side’s collapse on Sunday night, remains a good one for batting. Look for Lynn (the Heat’s top runscorer this season) to continue his consistency in BBL09 and another consistent performer – Ben Laughlin – to similarly get the job done with the ball. For the visitors, expect Henriques to again fly the flag in the individual markets and Nathan Lyon to cause issues for the Heat’s under-fire batting order.
Head to Head: Brisbane Heat
Top Runs Scorer – Brisbane Heat: Chris Lynn
Most Wickets – Brisbane Heat: Ben Laughlin
Top Runs Scorer – Sydney Sixers: Moises Henriques
Most Wickets – Sydney Sixers: Nathan Lyon