Friday will see the first double-header of this year’s edition of the KFC Big Bash. The first match of the day will see the Hobart Hurricanes open their account against the Sydney Sixers.
This will be immediately followed by a tasty looking clash between the Perth Scorchers and the Adelaide Strikers at the WACA. As is always the case, there’s a ton of value floating around, let’s see if we can find it:
Sydney Sixers vs Hobart Hurricanes | Friday 23 December | SCG | 07:55
To Win Match
Sydney Sixers 72/100 | Tie 35/1 | Hobart Hurricanes 23/20
The Sixers have already got their season off to the perfect start following last season’s campaign which saw the Sydney side finish dead last on the standings – their worst finish in the tournament’s five-year history.
They look a different side this year, however, after a fantastic nine-wicket victory over their city rivals, the Sydney Thunder. Moises Henriques together with Daniel Hughes made short work of the Thunder’s paltry 159. The Portuguese-born all-rounder waltzed his way to an unbeaten 76 as his side cruised over the finish line with 12 balls to spare.
They won’t have it so easy against the Hurricanes, though. The Hobart side will be looking to bounce back from the disappointment of last season's sixth-place finish. The Tasmanian side haven’t been able to pull star names like many of the other franchises, and will likely look to the experience of George Bailey, Stuart Broad, Dan Christian, Shaun Tait and Kumar Sangakkara to see them through this season.
The bulk of the reasonability this season is going to fall squarely on the shoulders of Bailey and Tim Paine. The top-order duo carried the side through long stretches of last season and I feel that more of the same will be required this time around.
Verdict: Sydney Sixers 72/100
The Sixers’ rubbish performance last season seems to have jolted them into action this season. They look a completely different side from the one that featured last year, despite next to no changes in personnel. Back the Sydney men to come out on top against the Hurricanes.
Value Bet: Dan Christian to top score for the Hurricanes
Christian was excellent last season and provided us with some excellent displays in the middle order. He’s an experienced campaigner and offers excellent value at 9/2. Hope for a top order collapse from the ‘Canes if you decide to go this route!
Perth Scorchers vs Adelaide Strikers | Friday 23 December | The WACA | 10:40
To Win Match
Perth Scorchers 82/100 | Tie 35/1 | Adelaide Strikers 1/1
The Perth Scorchers (along with the Melbourne Stars) are the only team to have qualified for semi-finals of the completion every year since 2011. They’ve got a gun squad this year which includes Mitchell Johnson. The big quick has never actually been able to participate in the tournament because of commitments to the Test side.
Shaun Marsh is still out with a broken finger while Joel Paris is also not likely to feature in the first match. There is some good news for the Perth outfit with Andrew Tye looking stronger after a dislocated shoulder kept him out of action for a few months.
It’ll be interesting to see how Ian Bell does this season. The Englishman was brought into the Scorchers' set-up for both his ability and experience. The Englishman is a quality top-order batsman with a career to back it up. Expect him to pile on the runs this season if his Warwickshire form is anything to go by.
Their opposition for Friday, the Adelaide Strikers were unlucky to fall short in their perusal of the Brisbane Heat’s 206. To be frank, they probably should have won it after being 182/3 after 17.5 overs. In the end, they couldn’t handle the pressure and collapsed a bit with Kieron Pollard and Jake Lehmann getting out for 1 and 0 respectively in the latter stages.
The Adelaide side will take heart from the fact that they’ve got a pretty good early-season record against the Scorchers in seasons gone by. The Perth side have never won their opening match of the Big Bash with four of these five defeats coming at home against – yep you guessed it – the Strikers.
Verdict: Adelaide Strikers 1/1
The Strikers are in better shape coming into this match in terms of squad availability. Add to this the fact that they looked excellent in the failed run chase on Wednesday. They’ve also been the Scorchers’ opening day bogey team; get on the Strikers at even money.
Value Bet: Ian Bell to top score for the Scorchers at 3/1
Bit of a risk here, but Bell is a quality player who has proven his worth in this format around the world. He likes to play square of the wicket and will enjoy the ball coming on to the bat on the WACA surface. 3/1 looks a top price!
Written by Jason Dewey for @Hollywoodbets.