The Report by Andrew McGlashan
Sydney Sixers 4 for 164 (Silk 67*, Hughes 62) beat Perth Scorchers 8 for 147 (Cartwright 53, Turner 49) by 17 runs
Sydney Sixers launched their BBL campaign with a 17-run victory over Perth Scorchers in front of their home crowd at the SCG. Steve O’Keefe’s three-wicket burst in his first two overs gave them the ideal start to their defence of 165, which had been built on a record fourth-wicket stand of 124 between Jordan Silk and Daniel Hughes.
Both sides struggled in their Powerplay: the Sixers were 3 for 39 after six overs and the Scorchers 3 for 30 after the top had been knocked over by O’Keefe. In the final outcome, it was the stand between Silk and Hughes which came out on the winning side despite the efforts of Ashton Turner and Hilton Cartwright, who added 99 in 12 overs.
For the Scorchers, it means their campaign has started with two defeats in three days, following their loss to Melbourne Renegades. It is a long tournament, so it is certainly not panic stations, but they will be twitchy and keen to get a win on the board on Boxing Day against the defending champions Adelaide Strikers.
The Sixers would have been in deep trouble on 4 for 57 in the ninth over if Silk had been removed on 17, as he should have been when Ashton Agar spilled a simple return catch. From there, Silk and Hughes continued to consolidate the innings, aware that they could not throw the bat, given the early damage in the Powerplay.
They managed the innings to the effect of 98 runs in the final 10 overs and 56 off the final five without there ever being a full onslaught. Silk’s fifty came off 39 balls and Hughes’ off 37. The Sixers did not manage a six until the 18th over, but then Hughes twice deposited Andrew Tye over midwicket. Silk then closed out the innings by taking Tye for his third six of the innings.
The eventual stand of 124 was a BBL record for the Sixers, beating the 115 put on between Moises Henriques and Hughes against Sydney Thunder in 2016.
SOK-ing it to them
The Sixers couldn’t have wished for a better start with the ball. With his first delivery, O’Keefe had Sam Whiteman stumped as the left-hander was drawn down the pitch. Then, in his second over, he had David Willey caught at long-on, and three balls later, Michael Klinger was lbw. At that stage, O’Keefe had the figures of 3 for 4 and he would finish with his best BBL figures.
In the eighth over of the innings, it was then time for Lloyd Pope’s first bowl in the BBL. He has been signed with some fanfare following his eye-catching performances at U-19 and first-class level early in his career. His first two overs went for a respectable 17, before he was brought back for a third that cost 15 to give the Scorchers some momentum.
Worries for Scorchers
As Turner and Cartwright forged their stand of 99, the Scorchers chase was taking a similar shape to the Sixers’ innings. The partnership had got the requirement down to 64 off 36 balls, and when Turner took Sean Abbott over the leg side at the start of the 15th over, it felt like the force was with the Scorchers. Then, Turner carved to point and there was too much left to do despite Cartwright’s 53 off 39 balls.
The closing stages of the match included a stunning, juggled catch at midwicket by Hughes to remove Will Bosisto, as he parried the ball up one-handed before holding on, and Cartwright being run out off a no-ball, beaten by Josh Philippe’s pinpoint throw from deep cover, after Tom Curran had overstepped.
For a team with such an illustrious T20 history, it has been a poor start from Perth Scorchers. Against Melbourne Renegades, their batting flopped for 103, and it was the quick loss of their top three here that hurt them. They are without the Marsh brothers due to international duty, and the top order feels a batsman light despite the all-round skills of the likes of David Willey and Agar. It seems increasingly likely that Cameron Bancroft will return as soon as available on December 30.