Men in pink the pick


Sydney Sixers v Adelaide Strikers
Sunday 20 December 00.10
TV: live on BT Sport

Dismiss Sixers at your peril

There seems to be a lot of doom and gloom about the Sixers’ chances this season.

First, they lost Tom Curran at the last minute when the Surrey man decided he’d had enough of Bio-bubble life.

Then star bowler Sean Abbott got called up to the Test side meaning he missed the first two games, before then developing an injury that means he wouldn’t have played for the Sixers even if he had been released by CA.

Then the reverse happened with skipper Moises Henriques, who first got injured and then was called up to Australia, ultimately missing out on a Test place.

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But that’s why you have a squad of players and this is where management and coaches earn their corn.

Despite all these issues, they lost the first game against the Hurricanes when they should have won it and won the second as convincingly as it’s possible to win a game of T20 against the Renegades, also taking a bonus point. So, they’re likely to be just fine. Their middle order is good with Daniel Hughes, Jordan Silk (pictured), Dan Christian and Carlos Brathwaite all very capable.

There’s no Jason Holder just yet so James Vince and Brathwaite carry on being their sole overseas players.

Carey availability a huge boost

The Strikers fell just short of chasing a stiff total against the Hurricanes but bounced back with a good win against the very same opponents a few days later.

Star of the show was five-wicket man Peter Siddle, who rolled back the years. With the bat it was a mature and composed partnership between Jake Weatherald and Alex Carey who got them close, the former hanging around till the end to get the job completed.

With Carey now back for good and skippering the side, they look a much better team.

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But they could do with more of a contribution from Phil Salt.

He’s now gone for six and eight in two innings, which isn’t great for an overseas opening batsman. Yes, short sample but some players are a little too obsessed with their own strike rates. It looks great to have a strike rate of 200 but when that comes from scoring six off three balls, that’s hardly the key metric. We’re all for making the most of the Powerplay Overs but 120 balls is a longer game than one thinks and you don’t have to try and win the game in the first couple of overs.

Why are the Sixers the outsiders?

The Strikers are 1.910/11 favourites but I’m not sure that’s quite right.

For starters, the Sixers are 7-5 up on the head-to-head over the years.

Secondly, the Strikers got what they deserved from their two games while the Sixers should really be two from two. I make it even-stevens as regards the two batting line-ups but I’d just about favour the Sixers’ attack. Siddle isn’t going to be returning those figures every time for the Strikers and Rashid Kan is yet to fully find is groove on Australian wickets; he’s been more expensive than in the past.

This one’s at Hobart so expect a high-scoring game.

Dodge the ‘Big Two’ and go with Agar

If I were the Sixers’ coach I’d be saying something along the lines of ‘respect Siddle, play Khan cautiously (but if he’s off line smack him away)’.

But of course, you can’t be playing every bowler with too much respect or else you just won’t score quickly enough. And that can open the door to other bowlers beyond 5/2 Khan and 3/1 Siddle who the Sixers’ batters might be targeting. And as we know, the more aggressive you are, the more likely you are to get out in this format.

My pick is Wes Agar. He won this betting heat in the first game and was on course to win it in the second one before that late burst from Siddle where everything that could go right for him, did.

4/1 is a perfectly good price for someone who has started the tournament well, is guaranteed his four overs and knows this competition inside out.

Weatherald worth a second look

Betfair Sportsbook have boosted Weatherald from 13/5 to 10/3 and if, like me, you’re not afraid to back players for back-to-back successes, that’s a pretty decent price.

Carey is 11/4 but he’s likely to bat at four in order for the Strikers to not be too top-heavy. Given where he bats, I think he’d need to be AB de Villiers or Jos Buttler for that price to make appeal.

Jonno Wells is a proper middle-order specialist who’s perfect for rescue acts batting first or well thought-out innings in the chase. If you’re going to give the openers a miss, you might as well go for him at the far bigger price of 6/1 than Carey’s stingy odds.



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