Perth a bet to reach the final
Harper to star in top bat market
Wooden spoon for Adelaide
It is the duty of every self-respecting gambler to eye the favourite for any event with a deep, cynical mistrust. The formguide, individual talents and other variables can be discussed and peppered with ifs, buts and maybes to convince oneself that the price is too short. It trips all too easily off the tongue.
In the case of Perth Scorchers and a bid for an unprecedented third-straight Big Bash title, however, one could be rendered speechless when it comes to the flaws and foibles which could prevent them from copping at 11/43.75 with Sportsbook or on the Exchange at the same.
By Jove they look strong. As discussed in our team-by-team guide they have the uncanny fortune to be able to pick an entire domestic XI without the need for overseas stars. Just as well as this is a tournament which can become confusing by the numbers of ins and outs in-play because of the competing franchise competitions around the world.
Perth could well lose Zak Crawley for the play-offs to the ILT20. Laurie Evans likewise. But so what? Aaron Hardie, last season's top tournament bat, could slot into the opening berth instead. Or Josh Inglis, who took India's bowlers apart only a few days ago. Or Micthell Marsh when he becomes available following Australia's Test series against Pakistan.
With toing and froing aplenty, Perth threaten to look settled and strong by the business end. It is also inarguable that they are in fact stronger than the outfit which lost only three matches last season given that Ashton Agar should be fit.
No side used fewer players than Perth last season and the trust they have in their squad should at least be repaid with another appearance in a final. The 2.166/5 that they reach it could well be a gift considering they need only to finish in the top two in a shortened league season (now 40 matches from 56) to get a double chance of contesting the showpiece.
Little to beat
Sydney Sixers are their biggest rivals and the 6/17.00 with Sportsbook that they meet in the final should be popular.
Perth and Sixers are head and shoulders above the rest, as illustrated by the pair finishing as Nos 1 and 2 respectively in line with the ladder on batting and bowling run rates. That is a rare occurrence indeed in franchise cricket.
It is also highlights that the true competition is at the bottom of the table. There are some defective outfits here.
Adelaide Strikers could be the worst of a bad bunch. After a seventh-placed finish last term they look to be in steady decline now. The absence of Rashid Khan is a hammer blow on a home surface which has been good for batting. The loss of four guaranteed mean and threatening overs should cost them plenty. They have been ineffective in the player market to try to cover for him.
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When Rashid missed the last six matches in 2022-23, Strikers were beaten in five of them. The 4/15.00 from Sportsbook that they finish bottom is worthy of a bet on that stat alone.
Melbourne Stars were the rags last time and they should improve now Glenn Maxwell is available. They have done decent work with their squad despite the loss of Adam Zampa and they might be a smidge of value to make the top four at 2.506/4.
A side interest in Sam Harper top scoring for Stars is also advised at 5/16.00. He has been opening in warm-ups and blazed Victoria's quickest century in the Shield off 64-balls this year. Back in 2020 he smashed 100 off 46 balls in practice. There have been only flashes of that form since. After a cross-town switch from Renegades he has an opportunity for a breakthrough campaign.