Last season’s runners-up open their campaign at one of their strongest challengers as Sydney Sixers travel to face Adelaide Strikers on day one of the new Big Bash League season.
The Sixers were an impressive outfit last term, reaching the grand final after edging the Strikers in thrilling fashion in The Challenger, but were ultimately swatted aside by Perth Scorchers with a 79-run title-deciding loss.
But memories of the defeat can fuel a resurgence in 2022/23 and the Adelaide franchise, largely reliant on the work of their key Test players when they come available later in the season, will have to work hard to not be caught flat-footed.
Big Bash League Betting Tips
Key Strikers men Travis Head and Alex Carey are set to miss the early action this season due to Australia’s South Africa Test series and there is a risk that a sluggish start will blight them, just as it did last year – something Sydney can take full advantage of.
The Sixers will themselves be without Nathan Lyon for the opening patch of the season, but Steve Smith’s inclusion after his Test action is out of the way can only come as a boost after his unavailability last season.
Sean Abbott and Todd Murphy should dodge international commitments barring unexpected injury crises elsewhere and all of the above points to a strong start for the New South Wales men.
Sydney Sixers to win @ 4/6
Strikers fell agonisingly short of reaching the final in one of the all-time great Big Bash League showdowns at the SCG, losing their berth in the last two on the final ball to Sixers’ Hayden Kerr.
But though they were in touching distance of the final due to their excellent form towards the end of the season, they were done no favours by a six-game losing streak in the early campaign and run the risk of the situation repeating itself.
The battle on Wednesday will come down to the non-international firepower in either squad and while the tricky spin of Rashid Khan will have to be navigated, Sixers have plenty of their own threat with the ball to call upon, through platinum draft pick Chris Jordan, Sean Abbott, Todd Murphy, Steve O’Keefe and Afghan spinner Izharrulhaq Naveed.
Sydney began in swashbuckling style last term, routing Melbourne Stars by 152 runs, and will surprise few if they do the same again.
Sydney Sixers Top Run Scorer – James Vince @ 13/5
James Vince’s 149 runs over nine games last term left Sydney keen to hold onto their man and his retention represents one of the foremost threats in Wednesday’s match-up.
The Englishman debuted in the Big Bash League in 2016 for rivals Sydney Thunder, before making the switch to the Sixers for their title win in 2019/20.
He led Southern Brave to the inaugural The Hundred title in 2021 as captain, top-scoring for the franchise with 229 runs over ten matches and will be keen to make amends after the Brave slumped to a lowly finished in 2022.
He is only around until early in January before commitments take him to the UAE, so his influence may be short-lived, but that is a headache for another day – the Sixers’ leading light with the bat could prove the difference as they aim for a third title in four years.