Sydney Thunder vs. Sydney Sixers
MATCH UP STATS
Sydney Thunder vs. Sydney Sixers
2015-16 Big Bash League finish:Sydney Thunder: Champions (first title)Sydney Sixers: Eighth place
Top batsman tip:Sydney Thunder: Eoin Morgan - $5 at Bet365Sydney Sixers: Jason Roy - $4.50 at Sportsbet
Top bowler tip:Sydney Thunder: Pat Cummins - $4.50 at William HillSydney Sixers: Doug Bollinger - $4.50 at Sportsbet
THE reigning champions and the wooden spooners will open the 2016-17 T20 Big Bash League season with a mega Sydney derby on Tuesday, December 20.
Even though they finished at opposite ends of the table last term, both are rated $7 mid-range chances in CrownBet’s BBL outright betting.
The Thunder have lost a few big names from BBL05, with veteran stars Jacques Kallis and Mike Hussey both bowing out.
They also won’t get many games out of Australian Test bat Usman Khawaja, who finished second in last season’s batting charts despite making only four appearances.
New captain Shane Watson is expected to miss the opener through injury, while West Indian allrounder Andre Russell is embroiled in a doping case that could see him ruled out altogether.
There is some upside for the champs, however, especially in the form paceman Pat Cummins showed on his long-awaited return to international cricket in the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy ODI series.
They also have gun bat Kurtis Patterson, who has enjoyed a very strong start to the Australian domestic season for New South Wales.
But perhaps the biggest in for the Thunder is Eoin Morgan – the England ODI captain and a man with vast fence-clearing experience all over the globe.
The Sixers have also added some British flavour with keeper-bat Sam Billings and hard-hitting opener Jason Roy.
Then there are the missing bowlers.
While Doug Bollinger, Joe Mennie, Sean Abbott and Steve O’Keefe are all fine players with international caps, they are not quite Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Jackson Bird and Nathan Lyon.
Abbott was by far the best of the Sixers seamers last term, snaring 11 wickets in eight games at a very impressive 11.7 strike rate.
Mennie played only a single game for Hobart Hurricanes in BBL05, so he will be keen to take his chances and stay in view of the national selectors.
2016-17 Big Bash League squads
Sydney Thunder: Shane Watson (captain), Fawad Ahmed, Aiden Blizzard, Pat Cummins, Jake Doran, Ryan Gibson, Chris Green, Chris Hartley, Usman Khawaja, Nathan McAndrew, Alister McDermott, Clint McKay, Eoin Morgan, Arjun Nair, Kurtis Patterson, Ben Rohrer, Andre Russell, Gurinder Sandhu.
Sydney Sixers: Moises Henriques (captain), Sean Abbott, Sam Billings, Jackson Bird, Doug Bollinger, John Botha, Ryan Carters, Ben Dwarshuis, Brad Haddin, Josh Hazlewood, Daniel Hughes, Michael Lumb, Nathan Lyon, Nic Maddinson, Joe Mennie, Stephen O’Keefe, Jason Roy, Jordan Silk, Mitchell Starc.
Eoin Morgan bookie specials
With clouds over Russell and Watson, it’s the Irishman who stands out in the Thunder lineup.
Morgan may not have enjoyed his absolute best form with the bat in 2016, but he will take plenty of confidence from leading England to seven wins in eight ODIs.
A break from the burden of captaincy could do him good, and it would be wonderful to see him free his arms and play with the kind of daring and skill that put him – and Irish cricket – on the map.
To score 50 – $4.50 at William Hill
To hit the most sixes – $6.50 at Bet365
Man of the match – $10 at Bet365
To score 100 – $17 at William Hill
Match betting tips
It’s a pity (or daft scheduling) that the season opener should feature two teams with so many stars unavailable.
The Sixers are missing half the Test XI, while Watson’s injury and Russell’s woes could leave the Thunder with a severe shortage of top-flight experience now that Hussey and Kallis are gone.
The question is: which side has the greater depth?
If Cummins gets the right kind of support from Clint McKay and Gurinder Sandhu, the Green Machine should have no trouble taking wickets.
Their batting looks a little bit light, however, and the second string Sixers bowlers are better than some Big Bash teams’ best few.
Nevertheless, we are leaning towards the champs to kick off their defence with a win at home.
Highest opening partnership – Thunder ($2 at CrownBet)
Any player to score a 50 – No ($3.45 at Sportsbet)
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