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BBL|08 season preview: Sydney Sixers

Nathan Lyon celebrates with Sixers teammates. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)
Expert
16th December, 2018
1

It’s been a long time between drinks for the Sydney Sixers, but that dry spell looks like it’ll be extended in BBL08.

The Sixers rallied late last season but still fell short of the finals. The men in magenta have been successful over the years, but have only won the single competition – way back in 2011-12, the first ever edition of the BBL.

Since then, they have made the top four on three occasions, with the last two of those – in 2014-15 and 2016-17 – both ending in grand final defeats.

Sydney’s squad approach used to be having international players left, right and centre, which allowed them to breeze through seasons.

They have shifted away from that model in recent seasons, going for a younger squad who are able to gel as a unit across the season.

This year has taken it a step further, with only Nathan Lyon to challenge for Australian international duties and a number of players who, while unheralded, will have plenty to prove alongside a pair of imports who are trying to push for England selection.

Sean Abbott

Sean Abbott of the Sixers with teammates. (AAP Image/Craig Golding)

Squad

Moises Henriques (c), Sean Abbott, Justin Avendano, Tom Curran (England), Joe Denly (England), Ben Dwarshuis, Jack Edwards, Mickey Edwards, Dan Fallins, Daniel Hughes, Nathan Lyon, Peter Nevill, Stephen O’Keefe, Josh Philippe, Lloyd Pope, Jordan Silk, Henry Thornton, Greg West

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Captain: Moises Henriques
Coach: Greg Shipperd
Imports: Tom Curran, Joe Denly

Batsmen
Import Joe Denly will need to lead the Sixers with the stick. He has played T20 cricket right around the world and with 192 matches to his name, he has been consistent at getting innings off to a good start. An average of 28 is nothing out of the ordinary, but it’s not poor in this format.

Daniel Hughes and Peter Nevill’s experience will be valuable, although their efforts in previous seasons have been below par, while Jordan Silk will be looking to repay the faith shown by the Sixers to keep him on.

Josh Philippe is the intriguing batsman in the side – more on him later, but he could be an x-factor.

All-rounders
Skipper Moises Henriques had a difficult season last summer, struggling in the opening games of the BBL before taking a break to deal with mental health issues, and will be looking to re-find the form that got him picked for Australia’s T20 team after BBL|06.

He is joined in the all-round stocks by youngster Jack Edwards. The 18-year-old burst onto the scene during the JLT One-Day Cup, during which he scored his maiden List A century, so will be looking to make a name for himself in the T20 game with the Sixers.

Moises Henriques of the Sydney Sixers

Moises Henriques will captain the Sixers this season. (Image: Supplied)

Bowlers
The bowling attack will be the Sixers’ strength. Nathan Lyon will be back at some point during the season, with Stephen O’Keefe to do the bulk of the spin work in the meantime and Lloyd Pope to serve as the back-up option all the while getting a cracking education from two of Australia’s best tweakers.

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The pace attack will see import Englishman Tom Curran joined by Sean Abbott and Ben Dwarshuis, who must continue to improve after taking seven wickets in eight matches last year. His biggest improvement though was in accuracy, with the quick going for fewer than seven runs per over.

International cricket impact
The only real international impact on the Sixers will be not having Nathan Lyon available during Test cricket, but that’s something they would be well aware of.

Stephen O’Keefe is the man who will take the spinner’s spot when he isn’t around, but there is also a chance the Sixers will go with a two-pronged spin attack when Lyon returns.

Best XI

1. Daniel Hughes
2. Joe Denly
3. Josh Philippe
4. Moises Henriques (c)
5. Jordan Silk
6. Jack Edwards
7. Peter Nevill (wk)
8. Tom Curran
9. Sean Abbott
10. Ben Dwarshuis
11. Nathan Lyon

Keys to the season

Moises Henriques needs to lead from the front
If there is one man under the pump at the Sixers this season, it’s Henriques.

The skipper, who is the most experienced player in the side by a considerable distance, will need to lead from the front with both bat and ball.

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He is likely to find himself in some tricky situations throughout the season. Whether that’s stopping a collapse or in some sort of impossible looking run, he is going to need a truckload of runs.

Not only that, but he’ll have a role to play with the ball. While wickets are important in T20 cricket, as they can often pave the way for collapses and slower scoring rates, Henriques could often find himself in situations where he comes on after the powerplay needing to restrain the opposition run-rate.

Henriques is a smart cricketer, though, having guided his side through some difficult situations over the years. If there is anyone fit to lead this Sixers side, it’s him, but he needs to find good form early.

Can Stephen O’Keefe build on his consistency and accuracy?
O’Keefe only played four games last year, but was actually quite good with the ball during those games. He went for about six and a half runs per over across the course of the season, which is a tidy return for a spinner.

The problem was that he didn’t get a single wicket.

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No wickets in four matches isn’t necessarily unacceptable, but it’s not great and O’Keefe needs to bring more variations into his bowling to fix it.

It’s something he often hasn’t had throughout the years, instead struggling to find new ways to get batsmen out and sticking to his stock ball and going for six or seven runs per over.

That needs to change this year.

Steve O'Keefe

Steve O’Keefe will be hoping to do better this season – with the ball. (AAP Image/David Moir)

Which Sixers youngsters will emerge?
The Sixers have made some tantalising additions to their squad for the upcoming season, but few have people talking like Josh Philippe and Jack Edwards.

Both youngsters have represented Australian under-age teams over the last few years. They have oodles of talent and have begun to show so at state level this summer.

Both should feature heavily in the Sixers’ best XI.

Philippe is a clean hitter of the ball, as he showed for Western Australia during the one-day cup. Edwards has a List A century to his name at just 18 years of age and will be out to score plenty of runs in the BBL, while also providing something with the ball.

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Outside of that duo, South Australian leg-spinner Lloyd Pope has been signed by the Sixers, although is unlikely to get much of a run, while Henry Thornton is starting to make waves as a quick.

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Full fixtures

Match no. Date Time (AEDT) Opponent Venue TV
1 Sat Dec 22 3:30 PM Perth Scorchers SCG Fox
2 Mon Dec 24 7:15 PM Sydney Thunder Spotless Stadium Seven/Fox
3 Thu Dec 27 7:15 PM Melbourne Stars SCG Seven/Fox
4 Sat Dec 29 7:00 PM Melbourne Renegades Marvel Stadium Fox
5 Tue Jan 1 2:45 PM Brisbane Heat Metricon Stadium Seven/Fox
6 Fri Jan 4 7:15 PM Hobart Hurricanes Blundstone Arena Seven/Fox
7 Sun Jan 6 7:15 PM Adelaide Strikers Adelaide Oval Seven/Fox
8 Sun Jan 13 9:35 PM Perth Scorchers Optus Stadium Seven/Fox
9 Wed Jan 16 7:15 PM Melbourne Renegades SCG Seven/Fox
10 Sun Jan 20 7:15 PM Brisbane Heat SCG Seven/Fox
11 Wed Jan 23 7:15 PM Hobart Hurricanes SCG Seven/Fox
12 Tue Jan 29 7:00 PM Adelaide Strikers SCG Fox
13 Sat Feb 2 7:00 PM Sydney Thunder SCG Fox
14 Sun Feb 10 2:45 PM Melbourne Stars MCG Seven/Fox

Prediction

This is going to be a long season for the Sixers. The squad they have assembled just doesn’t have the talent or depth to go with some of the other top teams in the Big Bash.

They might sneak the odd win here and there – it’s T20 cricket and the law of averages says you have to have some success over the course of 14 games – but a spot in the bottom two will be awaiting the men in magenta.

Seventh.

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