BBL preview - Sydney Sixers

Image from official BBL twitter account
  • Nathan Lyon - Australia test call up, will almost certainly miss the majority of the tournament.
  • Sean Abbott - Australia ‘A’ call up, will miss their first 2–3 matches.
  • Jackson Bird - Suffering with a long-term injury, likely to return after Christmas so will likely miss their first five matches at minimum.
  • Top order batting - There aren’t many sides in this league that possess two players with the quality of James Vince & Josh Philippe in their top order, the pair scored over 1000 runs between them last season, at a strike rate in the mid 140’s and average of 35. Strong starts were fundamental for them and when you add the returning Moises Henriques, it looks like they’ve got a very strong top order, which will give a good platform for death overs hitting from players like Dan Christian.
  • Batting depth - Having Chris Jordan carded to come in at 8, who I believe is a better lower order hitter than his numbers suggest (see his more recent record and t10 numbers) is a luxury in the BBL. Even Ben Dwarshuis at 9 has a bit of hitting ability.
  • Pace bowling attack - This follows last season’s theme for Sydney Sixers, where they didn’t bowl much spin at all (28%) which was 7% below the tournament average and only Perth Scorchers bowled a significantly lower amount. This would be counter-intuitive to what many think constitutes a successful bowling line up in the BBL, given the struggles of local players against spin, however the Sixers have made it work and that’s testament to the versatility of their pace bowlers. I should add the caveat that their pace bowling will only look strong when they can get four of their top five pace bowlers (Curran, Jordan, Dwarshuis, Bird and Abbott) on the park together. When this happens they’ll have two bowlers capable of hitting high 140+ (Jordan & Dwarshuis), powerplay options (Bird, Abbott & Dwarshuis) & middle/later over bowlers (Jordan & Curran) as well having a left arm option with Dwarshuis. Tom Curran and Chris Jordan have often struggled to step up to higher level tournaments, however they should do well here, if used correctly.
  • Good team structure/high floor - Their team covers a few basic tick boxes that I believe are basic requirements when it comes to building a t20 XI; batting ability from at least one of their front line bowlers, a bowling option among their top six and at least one multi-format player at the top of their order. All of this gives them a ‘high floor’, perhaps their potential as a side isn’t as high as other teams but they’re one of the most consistent teams in the tournament, reflected in their two recent title wins, as well as finishing 3rd in the previous season.
  • Struggles against spin - They weren’t necessarily poor in this regard last season but on the face of it they don’t look to have many good players of spin, relying on a couple of players. Indeed it was mainly Philippe last season, who struck at incredible 185 vs spin, averaging 37, James Vince is the other player in their squad who has had an above average record against spin over a sustained period of time, though he wasn’t at his best last season against spin, averaging 22 and striking at 126. Outside of Philippe, last season their players averaged 24 and scored at 7.3rpo against spin. As a result I’m not sure it’s the best idea to open with both Philippe and Vince, instead I’d look to split them with Daniel Hughes opening and putting one of Philippe/Vince at 3.
  • Lack of a wrist spinner - I mentioned earlier about their squad ticking plenty of basic tick boxes for t20 squad building, one area they don’t have covered is a high quality leg/wrist spinner. Leg spinners are effective in most t20 competitions:
Batting economy rate and balls per dismissal against leg spin in the past three seasons of each tournament.
  • Poor power surge/death overs performance - They were really poor during this area last season and although having Tom Curran and Chris Jordan should help, I’m not sure either of them will be particularly suited to bowling with only two men out. If I recall correctly Dan Christian bowled quite a bit for them in the power surge last season, hopefully that won’t be the case this season from a Sixers point of view.

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