As the 2021/22 Big Bash approaches it’s peak, the Finals look to be taking shape.
The top three are all but secure, although the final makeup of said three teams is still very much to be decided.
Being the bias Electric Green fan that I am, I’m stating right now that the Thunder finish second, beat Perth and “host” the Final.
This leaves their opponent up for discussion. Below we run through the most likely team to challenge the mighty Thuuunndddaaa in the Final.
The pre-season favourites have more than lived up to their early billing. They currently sit atop the BBL Table with only two losses to date, both to the Thunder.
Despite losing home ground advantage after just one game at “the Furnace”, Perth have lead the way from game one.
Outside of the two aforementioned losses to the Thunder, they’ve looked borderline unbeatable. They put the Sixers away with relative ease, and haven’t had any sort of trouble elsewhere.
With Mitch Marsh coming back into the side following test duties, as well as the very likely first appearance of Pink Ball star Jhye Richardson, they become even stronger.
Tymal Mills has exited the competition to take up International duties, but Perth still have the game’s elite bowling lineup.
Richardson joins fellow international pacemen AJ Tye, Jason Behrendorff, spin wizards Peter Hatzoglou and Ashton Agar, as well as youngster Lance Morris and Matthew Kelly.
They’re capable of defending low scores, on those off days where the likes of Marsh, Patterson, Munro, Paris (returning from test duties) and co do not deliver.
The back to back defending champions have suffered a slight dip in form over the past few fixtures but are still very much an elite level team.
They do seem to be relying too heavily on Josh Philippe for runs, however the return to form of Moises Henriques has eased that pressure at the top.
They do seem to be missing James Vince, who has left on England duties.
With names such as Christian, Abbott and Silk coming in to face the mid to late overs, they can take a 130-ish score past 160 in the blink of an eye.
Their bowling attack is genuinely World Class and without a doubt their strength.
Jackson Bird and Ben Dwarshuis can swing the ball, while young Hayden Kerr has been the find of the tournament.
Sean Abbott is one of the competition’s all time wicket takers and looks to be bowling at his very best.
A lot will depend on whether Steve O’Keefe can return from injury for the Finals. If he is fit the Sixers are a much stronger team.
The Hurricanes are the most difficult side in the competition to predict. If it isn’t their night then they can crawl to a score of 140, which they fail to defend.
If Ben McDermott, Matthew Wade or Darcy Short are on song, they can very easily post and defend a score of well over 200.
Right now the aforementioned Short is struggling to find the middle of the bat. Wade returns from a few games off and should be refreshed and ready to go.
Ben McDermott is the most dangerous man in the competition with bat in hand.
Tim David is capable of taking 20 off an over although the Hurricanes seem to be struggling finding how to use him correctly.
At full fitness the Canes bowling attack is almost unplayable.
Nathan Ellis and Riley Meredith are two of the premier fast bowlers in the competition. Sandeep Lamichhane is a wizard and can stunt a side’s momentum.
Unfortunately the status of their top line bowlers is up in the air right now due to injury.
Without their top line quicks, they are a big step below the sides from Perth and Sydney.
Their ability to win games largely comes down to how many runs Ben McDermott has scored. That’s a risky strategy but if you have to depend on one batter right now, it’s McDermott.
… and the rest:
Forget the rest. The Melbourne sides are struggling to win a game, the Heat are a meme club and Adelaide have been super inconsistent. Adelaide lost their best bowler as of last night’s fixture.
For, what will most likely be the fourth time across the season, I expect a Perth vs Thunder matchup in the Final.
The Thunder beat them twice, but will likely have to beat them in the first round of the Finals, given the likely 1-2 finish of the sides.
The winner of that game will start the Final as big favourites, given the loser will have to go through the Sixers or Canes.
Perth vs Thunder for mine.