Sunday’s double-header games in Launceston and Brisbane only confirmed what we long suspected and already knew: Hobart won’t make the semis and the Melbourne Renegades’ title defence should’ve gone a whole lot better than it has.
On Wednesday, the Melbourne Stars will play the Perth Scorchers at Optus Stadium. Although this game may seem to be just like any other Big Bash game, there is something unique in this match which will cause quite a contest and even a rivalry between the players.
This is the fact that a quarter of the Melbourne Stars’ contracted players are actually from Western Australia.
This season the Stars have 20 contracted players, five of whom have developed as players via the WACA systems and have played cricket in Western Australia for most of their lives. These five cricketers include Clint Hinchliffe and Lance Morris as well as Australian internationals Nathan Coulter-Nile, Hilton Cartwright and Marcus Stoinis. All five currently represent Western Australia in the Sheffield Shield and the One Day Cup.
Within the Perth Scorchers’ line-up, not including the international players, there are only two players who don’t currently call Western Australia their domestic and grade cricket home. These players are New South Welshman Kurtis Patterson and Victorian Fawad Ahmed.
The fact that there will be so many Western Australians on the ground against one-another will make for a great contest for the players and the fans alike. The Perth crowds are notorious for speaking their honest opinion about a certain player loud and proud. If they don’t like the player, they’ll boo them but if they like the player, they’ll cheer their every run.
For example, earlier this season when Western Australian international Shaun Marsh played against the Scorchers for the first time in Perth since he left for the Renegades, he received a standing ovation from much of the Optus Stadium attendance when he got his fifty. Similar treatment was also given to leg-spinner Brad Hogg when he returned to Perth while representing the Renegades for the first time since he left.
However, it is also extremely common for the Western Australian audience to show their clear disliking towards an away side. Whether it be the Brisbane Heat or New Zealand, the Perth crowd is well-known to get on top of the visiting team. Within those five players that now play for the Melbourne Stars, Cartwright and Coulter-Nile have had a massive impact on the success and development of the Scorchers during the eight years that they were there.
Whether everyone in attendance will give the Western Australia players within the Stars a lot of stick for leaving Western Australia or if they’ll give them the Shaun Marsh and Brad Hogg ‘legend’ treatment will remain unknown until the night.
Also, other than Lance Morris, the other four players have a lot of experience playing at Optus Stadium, whether it be for the Scorchers, Western Australia and even Australia. As this ground is still fairly new and has only been operating for professional cricket since the 2017-2018 season, to have players in the Melbourne Stars squad that have a good understanding of the wicket and the pitch will give them a much-needed edge which many Big Bash sides have lacked.
On top of all of this, there will be a rivalry between the players which is usually featured in the Melbourne and Sydney derbies and not in WA. As players such as Stoinis, Coulter-Nile and Cartwright in particular have played with many members of the current Scorchers squad, including Head Coach Adam Voges for most, if not all, of their careers in grade and domestic cricket, they will have a very good understanding of each other’s natural game plans and techniques.
It must be said that in recent matches, Morris and Cartwright haven’t been consistent players in the starting eleven but, their knowledge of the opposition and the pitch is still vital to the performance of the Stars in this match.
This game is a must watch, not only for Western Australia fans but for the entire country to witness a rivalry in Western Australian cricket which is extremely rare in any format of the professional game.