On paper the Thunder look to be relying on too few to do too much here against a very balanced Sixers side – coaches who nail the two Sixers top order batsmen who get starts against this weak Thunder pace attack will be very well placed to cash here.
With Moises Henriques saying yesterday in the pre-game presser that he won’t be touching the Kookaburra for at least the first two games, coaches kind of have to take Shane Watson given he will bat top 3 and bowl 4 overs.
The forecast looks unlikely to impact much with clear skies and light winds predicted at start of play.
'Take the slow bowlers at Spotless' is the general rule but the big watch on McClenaghan’s debut for the Thunder is to see if he is a chance of reproducing his 2016 World Cup heroics throughout the tourney.
As always, the coin toss will be crucial; as a rule I like to have good middle order coverage of the side batting first and solid top order coverage of the side batting second – especially at Spotless where low first innings totals are frequent.
Thunder: Blizzard, Patterson, Watson, Ferguson, Butler, Rohrer, Green, McClenaghan, Nair, Ahmed, Fekete, McAndrew, Gibson.
Sixers: Roy, Hughes, Maddinson, Henriques, Billings, Neville, Botha, O’Keefe, Abbott, Sams, Bollinger, Silk, Conway
Can see the Thunder opting for at least 10 overs of spin here given no Clint McKay which gives Arjun Nair his chance, ditto young Dan Sams for the Sixers who gets in ahead of Conway purely on his impressive economy in the Sixers trial at the weekend.
The ultimate hail-mary selection Aiden Blizzard is blessed to be there at the top for the Thunder after a horrid BBL06 campaign and I can’t find a place for Jordan Silk given Henriques has named himself as a batsman only for this opener.
Any coaches hoping to cash MUST watch the coin toss for last minute team changes especially in this first BBL game of the season.
Six Good Nuts
Bowler - Steve O’Keefe
Perfectly suited to Spotless and all but assured 4 overs, O’Keefe’s greatest asset is his economy rate which is under 6 for the last two seasons of BBL. He usually sneaks in an early over which brings maiden/wicket points into play. Can wield the willow but have him slotting in at 7 for Sixers so don’t bank on runs given the Thunder bowling attack. Do bank on a 40-50pt minimum return which for a bowler is gold. Shouldn’t be too popular given the price tag and low BBL06 exposure whilst on national duties.
Batsman - Callum Ferguson
One of my favourite players and price tag cannot be ignored here. Has been bought by the Thunder for a very specific job – to save the innings if (when) Watto and/or Butler fail. I have him coming in at #4. Fergy is in red hot form and will want to impress on debut for the new franchise, I can’t go past him. Should enjoy relatively low ownership as well. All ticks. Only negative for mine is his history of sliding down the order should the openers go ballistic early.
Keeper - Jos Buttler
If you have to be talked out of purchasing Peter Neville, I can’t help you. Pay the coin for Jos Buttler. That is all.
All-Rounder - Shane Watson
Henriques has ruled himself out of bowling for the first two BBL games which makes it hard to take him here despite a very juicy price tag. Watto will bat top 3 and get 4 overs guaranteed so I’ll be paying the coin for the Thunder captain (whilst preparing to peg my remote at the TV when he spoons one to mid-wicket on 16!). Botha should get farmed here and may not get a bat which makes the risk too great – take Watson’s exposure and pray!
POD Pick - Daniel Hughes
He is not as cheap as Nic Maddinson nor as explosive as Jason Roy, but Daniel Hughes seldom gives his wicket away and will open for the Sixers. Gets even more valuable if the Sixers bat second as he will likely be chasing a very gettable total. In solid form and will be passed up by plenty. Well worth investing.
Avoid - Andrew Fekete
By the grace of the cricketing gods Andrew Fekete may find himself with the new ball in Sydney despite a (to put it nicely) lacklustre 2016 campaign for the Heat. Not sure what Huss was thinking here, but I’m avoiding like the plague until I see improvement first hand.
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