Big picture: Underdogs Heat aiming to snap title drought; Sixers striving to regain crown
That painful defeat has lit a fuse under Heat and lifted them to great heights this season. But Heat’s bid for redemption and adding to their lone title from BBL 02 goes on the line against Sydney Sixers in Wednesday’s final at the SCG.
Using a similar blueprint to powerhouses Scorchers and Sixers, Heat have built a strong core of local players as they aim to become only the third team in BBL history to win multiple titles.
For further confidence, Heat also knocked Sixers out of last season’s Challenger with a tense victory at the SCG.
Sixers will enter with supreme confidence having peaked at the right time with four straight victories. For much of the season Sixers had appeared to be falling short of an all important top two finish with several of their matches heavily impacted by rain, including both games against Heat earlier in the month.
Mustering their experience and trademark resiliency, Sixers turned it around capped by superb wins over Scorchers in Perth then Heat to reach a seventh BBL final.
On the cusp of a fourth title and first since 2021, Sixers are closing in on regaining their BBL crown.
Sydney Sixers WWWWL (last five completed matches, most recent first)
In the spotlight: Josh Brown and Steve O’Keefe
Team news: Sixers unchanged, Swepson set to be recalled
Given their strong form and dominance in the Qualifier, Sixers are set to go in unchanged meaning there won’t be room for veteran seamer Jackson Bird.
Sydney Sixers (probable XI): 1 Jack Edwards, 2 Daniel Hughes, 3 Josh Philippe (wk), 4 Moises Henriques (capt), 5 Jordan Silk, 6 Joel Davies, 7 Hayden Kerr, 8 Sean Abbott, 9 Ben Dwarshuis, 10 Todd Murphy, 11 Steve O’Keefe
Brisbane Heat (probable XI): 1 Jimmy Peirson (wk), 2 Josh Brown, 3 Nathan McSweeney (capt), 4 Matt Renshaw, 5 Max Bryant, 6 Paul Walter, 7 Michael Neser, 8 Xavier Bartlett, 9 Spencer Johnson, 10 Mitchell Swepson, 11 Matthew Kuhnemann
Pitch and conditions
There is always anxiety over Sydney’s weather, but there is no threat of rain on Wednesday. Sunny conditions are forecast during the day and it is expected to still be warm and humid when the match starts at night.
The SCG surface is expected to again be slow and low to bring spinners into the game with scrappy batting often needed on the ground. Totals of around 150-160 have continually been successfully defended by Sixers in a blueprint they will likely want to replicate if they win the bat flip.
Stats and trivia
- Sixers enjoy a 13-6 overall record against Heat. But Heat have won two of the last three at the SCG with their only defeat being a two-wicket loss in late 2021.
- O’Keefe is two away from claiming 100 BBL wickets. Only 10 bowlers have reached the milestone.
- Moises Henriques need 39 runs to overtake Glenn Maxwell and lift into fifth spot in the BBL’s most runs list.
“We still haven’t played a great game of cricket by our standards. It will be amazing if we could do that [in the final].”
Sixers captain Moises Henriques
“A lot of the boys played in last year’s final…being so close and losing hurts. It’s in our minds and carried its weight through the year.”
Heat captain Nathan McSweeney
Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth