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Opinion

Can the Scorchers prove you don’t need spin to succeed in T20 cricket?

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Roar Guru
3rd December, 2021
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With the Scorchers losing Fawad Ahmed (Adelaide Strikers), Joel Paris (Hobart Hurricanes), Sam Whiteman (Sydney Thunder), Cam Gannon (Brisbane Heat) and Liam Guthrie (Brisbane Heat) as well as internationals Jason Roy and Liam Livingstone ahead of BBL11, the new-faced club will be aiming to do one better than their previous runners-up campaign.

Despite the exits, Perth have signed experienced T20 franchise and county batsman Laurie Evans and England fast bowler Tymal Mills, fresh off of a successful World Cup campaign with seven wickets at 15.43.

On top of this, the Scorchers have brought back two local players who have previously been playing for BBL clubs over east with David Moody (from the Hobart Hurricanes) and Lance Morris (from the Stars). Melbourne Renegades cult-figure leg spinner Peter Hatzoglou is also heading west for BBL11, after a maiden BBL campaign in BBL10.

Losing five players to teams over east and two of the most consistent internationals is never easy for a franchise. In contrast to many other T20 franchises around the globe, the Scorchers (with Ashton Agar on international or Australia A duty) only have one full-time spinner in the entire squad, being new signing Hatzoglou.

With many clubs building their squads around spin bowling – such as the Strikers with Rashid Khan, Fawad Ahmed, Liam O’Connor and Matthew Short – the Scorchers’ pace-focused mindset will be a talking point of the competition.

In WA’s last two Sheffield Shield and four one-day cup matches, they haven’t included a full-time spin bowler in the starting XI.

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Instead, they’ve been utilizing their pace depth of Lance Morris, Cam Gannon, Matt Kelly, Jhye Richardson, Joel Paris, Andrew Tye and Liam Guthrie and have been using leg-spin all-rounder D’Arcy Short as the go-to spin option.

Jhye Richardson of the Scorchers prepares to bowl during the Big Bash League

Jhye Richardson. (Photo by Will Russell/Getty Images)

As it stands, WA are first on the Sheffield Shield and one-day cup ladder and although they’ve played at least one more game than every other state in the one-day cup, their three wins to two losses stands them in good stead to stay, at least, in the top three.

This pace-bowling success for WA will no doubt be an indicator to Adam Voges that, despite the change in format, spin emphasis may not be a necessity in domestic or BBL cricket.

If this is proven to not be the case in BBL11, captain Ashton Turner – having opened the bowling with his right-arm off spin in the recent Scorchers versus WA XI trial match – may turn back the clock and fill the void, as seen with his 11 wickets between BBL03 to BBL06.

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In other news, the Scorchers have also contracted two more local batsmen ahead of the upcoming season: Nick Hobson, 27, and Cooper Connolly, 18.

Hobson showed glimpses with his 33 off 50 for WA in Round 3 of the one-day cup. He has been dominating WACA first grade for Claremont-Nedlands with an average of 83.75 and two tons after the first seven games.

Having already played for the Scorchers on five occasions in BBL08, Hobson has scored 86 runs at 28.67 with a strike rate of 116.22 in the orange and black.

In the recent trial game for the Scorchers, Hobson dominated with 92*, and alongside Aaron Hardie’s 83, led his side to 3-217 after 20.

Generic white cricket ball

(Photo by Speed Media/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Connolly top scored for Scarborough CC in the 2020-21 WACA first grade (with 571), WACA Premier T20s (with 140) and the WACA Colts League (with 327) and has proven to be one of the best up-and-coming talents in the state.

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Having been named the player of the final and tournament in the 2019 Under-17 National Championships, the fourth highest run-scorer in the 2019-20 Under-19 National Championships and the top scorer with 102 off 69 in the 2020-21 WACA Colts League grand final, Connolly has dominated the Australian under-age cricket scene for a number of years.

Connolly was one of only three West Australians to have recently been named in the Australian 37-man training squad in preparation for the upcoming Under-19s World Cup.

The Perth Scorchers’ BBL11 campaign has the potential to be full of surprises and turn heads around the country.

Between having a largely different squad in comparison to last season to being mostly reliant on pace bowling, Adam Voges’ team will definitely be one to keep an eye out for.

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