The defending champions Perth will be out to add to their stellar Big Bash record this tournament.
Remarkably, they’ve claimed five BBL titles and finished runner-up on three further occasions.
Once again they enter the tournament with one of the most settled rosters of any team.
English duo Zak Crawley and Laurie Evans are the two major international signings on deck.
Crawley will miss the opening round due to international duty.
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Sure to already be popular to start the season with numerous elite Supercoach players, the Scorchers stocks will be boosted by the double game round in round one.
Note that the double games are both fixtures away from home in Melbourne.
They have a unique draw, having back-to-back byes in Round 4 and 5, followed by back-to-back double game rounds in round 6 and 7.
One thing to note, probably more for the double-double later in the season, is that tremendous depth in their quick bowling stocks produces rotation risks.
Ashton Agar is under an injury cloud to begin the tournament, if unavailable it may open up a few spin overs across the board making certain players more interesting.
Truly one of the Supercoach greats, starting on a double, so you just lock him in right?
You’d think so, but Richo enters the tournament with some injury concern, so it might not be as straight forward as it looks at a whopping $247k.
The Scorchers play their opening two games in the space of four days, so provided he’s good for the opener you’d think he’d play the double, but with depth in the fast bowling stocks and an injury plagued history maybe he sits out the second game?
There’s a genuine opportunity to go against the star quick to begin, but I’m keen to lock him in at this stage.
Last season, Richo played just seven games, averaging 79.7 Supercoach points from 15 wickets at an elite economy of 6.75.
As already mentioned, rotation risk is a concern among the quicks with injury history surrounding most of their speedsters, and the very talented Matt Kelly not included in the XI who will certainly feature in games.
However, on their day any of Tye, Behrendorff and Morris are genuine options.
Tye will likely get the all-important death overs, along with Richardson, so I’d lean towards that pair of the lot.
Behrendorff tends to get through his overs earlier in the inning but can be equally as effective, while Morris was exceptional last season averaging 72.5 in just a handful of games.
Agar remains in doubt to start the tournament, but may tempt a few if cleared for the opening game for Perth if he does over come injury to play.
His role is pretty mint for Supercoach, batting at seven and acting as the key spin option, but it doesn’t always translate well to Supercoach scoring.
While economical, he’s never really been a noted wicket-taking option.
This was reflected last season, taking just six wickets in 10 games, while he struggled to impact the scorers with the willow notching just 34 runs for the tournament.
Look back to the tournament prior where he averaged a very healthy 55.5 Supercoach points for inspiration.
He’s cheap, dual position, has a decent history, but I don’t think he’s for me.
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Mitch Marsh (Test team), Lance Morris (Test team), Hamish McKenzie, Nick Hobson, Zak Crawley (England ODI Team), Ashton Agar
Changes from last year
The Scorchers are once again a strong outfit, but aren’t without pre-season interuptions.
Opener Stephen Eskinazi has has been added as the final international and is expected to be available for the entire tournament.
The opening bat honours this season to start are likely to fall to Eskinazi and Sam Whiteman who returns from the Thunder.
Ashton Agar is under an injury cloud and may miss the opening couple of games, which would see youngster Cooper Connolly, the hero from last year’s Big Final, bat at seven and bowl.
While he could easily slot in at 6 for the side, Connolly recently opened the batting for WA during the One Day Cup which could hint at the role they see for him – he bowled 10 overs too.
Zak Crawley will open for the side once he’s available and is a great get. Fellow Englishman Laurie Evans returns and will likely slot back into the number 6 role which he played to perfection in their BBL11 title season.
Hamish McKenzie, a left-arm wrist spinner, is a $42k bowling rookie who could get a game if Ashton Agar is unfit.
With Lance Morris in the Test squad, Matt Kelly will come into the bowling attack if he’s cleared of a calf injury.
The bowling attack is well balanced but will be rotated.
Between Jhye Richardson, Lance Morris and Matt Kelly you’d think one will get a rest every other game.
Connolly or Nick Hobson are the first batter to be left out once Crawley is available and could float between opener and number 6. We’ll know more about the makeup of the side once the final International is named.