v Hobart Hurricanes at WACA (18/12)
v Melbourne Renegades at Etihad Stadium (22/12)
v Brisbane Heat at WACA (29/12)
v Melbourne Stars at MCG (4/1)
v Adelaide Strikers at WACA (8/1)
v Sydney Thunder at ANZ Stadium (11/1)
v Sydney Sixers at SCG (18/1)
Marcus North has had an interesting past two years, but it has mainly been filled with frustration. He played 21 Tests for Australia and scored five centuries, but had too many failures at the worst possible time. North hasn’t played a Test match in 12 months and has had ample time to reacquaint himself at domestic level. The 32-year-old certainly isn’t known for his work in the T20 format. He’s played 35 domestic matches and has only passed 50 on one occasion. However we can’t underestimate North’s leadership and knowledge of the game. The Scorchers are safe with him as a captain. Anything he can do from an individual viewpoint is a bonus.
He might be coming towards the end of his illustrious career, but there still aren’t too many more explosive batsmen than Herschelle Gibbs in the world. He plays the most outlandish strokes, like cutting fast bowlers for six or pulling off the front foot. The 37-year-old has played some awe-inspiring innings and achieved so much during his 15-year international career. None better than his 175 off 111 balls that helped South Africa win an extraordinary one-day match against Australian in 2006. The right-hander has such a good eye and is hard to stop once settled at the crease. An extra bonus, Gibbs is also a brilliant fielder and will be extremely dangerous close in on the off side for the Scorchers.
Nathan Rimmington crossed over from Queensland to Western Australia before the start of the 2011-12 domestic season and has fitted in nicely. The pace man has taken 14 wickets from his three first-class matches, but hasn’t quite had the same success in the 50-over format. However the 29-year-old is about to come into his prime as he lines up for the Scorchers in the Big Bash League. Rimmington has an outstanding T20 domestic record, taking 31 wickets from 23 matches at an excellent average of 18.16. He is quick and handy with both the new and old ball, but his biggest asset is his full-length bowling at the end of an innings. The Scorchers have picked up a beauty here.
WHERE WILL THEY FINISH?
One of the Scorchers’ biggest strengths isn’t with the bat or with ball – it’s in the field.
Gibbs is electric, while Paul Collingwood is rated perhaps the best fielder in the world in just about any position. Add Michael Hussey when he gets an opportunity and you’ve got an extremely solid fielding group.
The Scorchers look very solid from a batting viewpoint. The two Marsh boys, Mitch and Shaun, have had experience at international level of late and are in super form. Then you’ve got the likes of Gibbs, Hussey, Collingwood Simon Katich, Luke Ronchi and in-form youngster Liam Davis. That has to be close to the best batting combination in the league.
However the Scorchers’ bowling attack has been hampered by injuries of late. Star left-arm paceman Mitchell Johnson won’t play a fair chunk of the tournament, while no one is quite sure how much impact Mark Cameron will have on the tournament.
Still, the combination of Rimmington, Ben Edmonson, Nathan Coulter-Nile and veteran Brad Hogg is capable of keeping the runs to a minimum and maybe taking 10 wickets. Hogg’s performance will be scrutinised heavily, especially because he’ll be back playing on the familiar WACA pitch, a wicket known mainly for pace bowlers.
The balance between youth and experience will only help the Scorchers’ chances of going all the way. However injuries to a few key fast men, plus the fact they may miss a few players due to international duties, might not get them to the final.
Most Tournament Runs – Herschelle Gibbs ($5.00 – Sportingbet)