After 60 matches we have finally reached the final of the 2022-23 Big Bash League, with the Perth Scorchers and Brisbane Heat set to go head-to-head for the title.
Perth have reached their third consecutive final and are looking for a fifth BBL success, as they prepare to face a Brisbane team who haven’t made it to the showpiece event since 2013.
|What||Perth Scorchers v Brisbane Heat|
|When||08:30, Saturday 4th February|
|How to watch||Sky Sports Cricket|
|Odds||Perth Scorchers 2/5, Brisbane Heat 2/1|
The Perth Scorchers are the outstanding team of the BBL, having made the final for the eighth time in 11 seasons of the competition.
They are four-time winners, including last year, when they hammered the Sydney Sixers and eventually won by 79 runs.
Perth have two players in the top five runscorers in this season’s competition, with Aaron Hardie and Josh Inglis both totalling over 400 runs. Hardie’s 443 includes four half-centuries and the 24-year-old is 9/2 to hit the Most Sixes in the final.
AJ Tye has been the pick of the bowlers for Perth so far, taking 25 wickets in the tournament to date with a strikerate of 13.9.
The Australian international, who is now 36 years old, has already enjoyed success against the Heat this season - taking 3-37 when the two teams met in Perth just under a month ago.
Tye took 3-15 in three overs in last year’s final in Melbourne and can be backed at 9/1 to be named Player of the Match on Saturday.
The Heat finished fifth in the regular season standings to advance to the play-offs and have had to play three matches since then to make it to the final.
The ‘Challenger Match’ saw them beat the Sixers and it was Michael Neser who got them over the line, with the bat rather than the ball. The bowling all-rounder smashed an unbeaten 48 to see the Heat home and was named Player of the Match.
It’s with the ball that Neser has shone though throughout this season, the experienced medium-fast bowler taking 26 wickets in the tournament to date - sitting second in the bowling stats list.
Meanwhile, you have to go down to 12 in the highest runscorers list to find the first Heat representative, with Jimmy Peirson firing 331 runs in 16 innings.
The wicketkeeper-batter made 23 when the two teams last met in Perth and he is 5/6 to score over 25.5 runs in Saturday’s final.
The head-to-head stats from this season do point to another Perth success, with the Scorchers winning both match-ups during the regular season.
Adam Voges’ men won by seven wickets in Western Australia, before claiming an eight-wicket win at the Gabba on January 11th.
In the Perth encounter, the Scorchers won the toss and put Brisbane into bat, with the Heat managing to reach 171-9 in their 20 overs. Colin Munro topscored for the visitors with 45 off 26, but the opener is unavailable as he is currently playing in the International League.
The hosts were 15-1, losing Stephen Eskinazi cheaply, but never looked in any danger after that early wicket. Cameron Bancroft - 7/2 to be his team’s top batter in the final - smashed an unbeaten 76, while Hardie chipped in 57 off 33 balls.
This has the potential to be a high-scoring affair, with both teams having made 200+ runs on two separate occasions this season. There have been 11 totals over 200 in this year’s BBL and two of them have come at the Perth Stadium.
The home side, though, look to have the edge, especially with home advantage. The Scorchers have lost just three of their 15 matches this season and only one of those defeats came on home turf.
Their experience of T20 finals should also prove a huge advantage and anything other than a Scorchers victory would be a major surprise.