Melbourne Renegades v Perth Scorchers
Saturday 12 December 08.15
TV: live on BT Sport
Players come in, players go out
The Renegades have recruited well with James Pattinson the pick of the Aussie players coming in.
To get a player of Rilee Rossouw's experience for the whole tournament is a big plus. But beyond the South African it's a revolving door when it comes to the overseas players. No sooner has one arrived than another is on his way out.
Imran Tahir only arrives after Christmas (why didn't they get him for the whole thing given he has no international commitments?), Pakistan all-rounder Imad Wasim only plays some of it and county cricket legend Benny Howell is there as well for a spell.
The two men who were supposed to play now as the second and third overseas players alongside Rossouw - Afghan pair Mohammad Nabi and Noor Ahmad - will miss the first two games of the season due to the need to quarantine. Essentially then the Renegades will only be playing one overseas man when some sides will be playing all three.
Then again, they have Aaron Finch around for the whole tournament, a luxury they've rarely enjoyed over the years as he's almost always been on Australia duty. If Finch, Rossouw and the classy Shaun Marsh get going, the overseas players issue will quickly be forgotten. Fast bowler Kane Richardson doesn't have to report for Australia duty.
Scorchers could be dangerous
You can see why the Scorchers were flavour of the month going into the tournament.
A couple of big-hitting English boys, a good spin duo, lots of fast bowling Aussies, a Kiwi with an excellent record in T20 franchise cricket and Mitch Marsh - one of the best T20 all-rounders - captaining the side. There's lots to like.
But Scorchers fans will have to wait before they're all in action. Jason Roy and Liam Livingstone aren't available yet and Ashton Agar has been ruled out, as well.
An engine room of Marsh, Ashton Turner and Cameron Bancroft looks strong and they'll need them because, as Ed Hawkins points out, you don't want to be leaving Andrew Tye at eight with too much to do.
Perth the pick
The Scorchers have won this fixture 10 of the 12 times it's been played. That's pretty remarkable, even allowing for the fact that for a four or five year period the Scorchers were very much the dominant force in the BBL and the Renegades were consistently the whipping boys.
This match is in Hobart, traditionally a very high-scoring ground. Given the Scorchers have the edge with a far better middle order, and the Renegades have personnel problems, it's not hard to argue that the Scorchers are the pick. They're the favourites but 1.84/5 is a bit bigger than I thought they'd be.
Shaun Marsh loves this fixture
Aaron Finch (9/4) goes off as favourite for Renegades top batsman; no surprises there. But he got 35 and 0 in the recent T20 series against India, missed the second match of the Series with a niggle and may be a bit jaded after IPL and Australia duties.
I'd rather go with Shaun Marsh (older brother of Mitch) at 7/2. He did of course used to play for the Scorchers and, over the 12 games between the sides, is the top scorer with 355 runs. He also boasts the best average (59) behind only former Scorchers opener Michael Klinger who is now coach of the Renegades.
Marsh also hit 55 off 38 for the Renegades last year in a losing cause (yet again) so had no issues scoring runs off his former team-mates. No doubt he knows a thing or two about the areas where the likes of Tye, Jhye Richardson and Joel Paris are going to be bowling.
Odds of 7/2 is a good price about a player of Marsh's class who has a fantastic record in this fixture. If we can get Finch beaten, we should be halfway there.
Three to consider for MOM
I'd be lying if I said I hadn't become disillusioned with this market over the last few weeks. Goodness knows how the MOM is chosen but I've been burnt a few times across a number of different Series and tournaments.
I'm still wondering how Yuzvendra Chahal got the award over Ravi Jadeja in Game One of that Australia v India T20 Series, or why Hardik Pandya got it in Game two over T. Natarajan when the latter did exactly what Chahal did with the ball in Game One in terms of numbers. I think it says it all about dodgy decisions when Pandya himself told the press that Natarajan deserved MOM over him!
For those reasons, I won't be advising any wagers on this market. But if you're interested, Mitch Marsh (8/1) won MOM in one of those matches last year and Liam Livingstone (not playing) in the other.
Big-hitting Perth wicket-keeper opening batsman Josh Inglis is also 8/1. Andrew Tye, who is one of three players to have taken a record 10 wickets in this fixture, is 14/1. If like me, you think Peth will win, these are the sort of players to look out for.