Perth Scorchers v Brisbane Heat
Wednesday 8 December 10.35
TV: live on Sky Sports
Perth Scorchers were runners-up last year to Sydney Sixers and were briefly favourites to go one better this season. Then Sixers smashed Melbourne Stars in the opener.
Even without that result it is difficult to understand why Perth are fancied. They are almost a completely different team. They have lost Jason Roy and Liam Livingstone. Jhye Richardson, the top wicket-taker in the tournament last season, is absent with Australia.
Laurie Evans, Colin Munro and Tymal Mills are the replacements. Mills probably is the pick of those three but they don't fill the void left behind.
Mills misses out here due to quarantine. They are also without their opening blitzer in Josh Inglis, batting rock Mitchell Marsh and key all-rounder Ashton Agar. All are playing for Australia A.
Possible XI (boundary % last 2 years): Bancroft, Evans (17.3), Munro (14.3), Hobson, Patterson (11.4), Turner (15.9), Connolly, Tye (17.2), Kelly (16), Behrendorff (11.1), Hatzoglou (0)
Heat have already suffered defeat. They were outclassed by Sydney Thunder in their opener on Monday.
Batting first they could manage only 140 and despite getting rid of Alex Hales in the first over they were soon leaking runs. It was a classic Heat performance.
If Chris Lynn doesn't fire up front they look lost. And the bowling lacks quality Mujeeb-ur-Rahmann aside.
Mark Steketee, Mitch Swepson (Australia A and Australia respectively) and Morne Morkel were all absent from the opening day squad.
Possible XI: Lynn, Bryantt, Duckett, Heazlett, WIldermuth, Peirson, Bazley, Bartlett, Mujeeb, Kuhnemann, Guthrie.
There have been only 20 matches played at the new Optus Stadium, which replaced the Waca, but it's a big enough study to take a 60% bias for the side batting first seriously.
The average first-innings score of 167 is second-highest in the tournament behind the Manuka Oval and Adelaide.
With Heat looking expensive in the field it's tempting to reckon Perth could go big. But that's on last season's form. With a new XI and players missing we need to watch and wait. No rain is forecast.
Heat have a shout
Perth are 1.645/8 with Heat 2.486/4. You can bet here. Given the toss bias and Perth being without several key men, a gamble on the visitors is not the worst wager.
We wouldn't expect there to be much change in the odds if Heat were to bat first. And we can well see Lynn and Max Bryant enjoying the batting surface in Western Australia to get them off to the fast start they desperately need.
It would be wrong to claim Heat were some sort of world-beating unit. They're not. And they are depleted, too. But with both teams shorn of quality, it may only take one big performance to make the difference. And Heat have as many match winners as Perth in our view.
Value galore on the top runscorer market. Evans has been badly underrated by Sportsbook who go 11/2 (bet here). Surely he slots straight into the opening berth, his usual position, particularly with Inglis away?
We're not claiming to reckon Evans is on some sort of hot streak in the nets but it's rare you get such a big price about a guy who has spent his T20 career as an opener.
For the Heat, Tom Cooper is priced at 11/1. Copper, a classy middle-order striker, was left out for game one. He might not play again. But if he does there is no way he is an 11/1 chance.
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