Sixers plan for shortened shootout
IT'S the mega match of the Big Bash season but the Sydney Sixers are living in fear that it might become a bite-sized lottery.
The forecast for rain impacting Saturday's sold-out BBL final at the SCG is so dire that the Sixers have decided to specifically prepare for a five-over shootout.
Sydney will claim the title in the event of a washout, but a rain-shortened lucky dip would be the worst-case scenario for the Sixers, as form lines, tactics and home ground advantage largely go out the window in six-hitting frenzies.
Watch every single KFC BBL match LIVE & On-Demand on KAYO with FOX CRICKET's unmatched commentary line-up. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >
The Melbourne Stars, with big boppers Marcus Stoinis, Glenn Maxwell and Nic Maddinson, would back themselves in a reduced-overs arms race should they qualify on Thursday night, as might their opponents in the preliminary final the Sydney Thunder, who, if successful, would march into the final led by English big hitter Alex Hales.
There is nothing the Sixers can do about the weather, but fast bowling star Josh Hazlewood revealed his side would focus on "super over" style training drills in a bid to steel themselves for the possibility they are forced into an unpredictable contest where literally anything could happen.
"The one thing we're worried about is getting one of those five, six or seven over games," said Hazlewood, with five per side the minimum for a match to achieved.
"We either probably want it completely washed out or get the full game in. That's probably the only worry.
"Just with that threat of rain we'll probably practice a few of those, not super overs, but pretend you've only got one over in the game and batting is the same (as a super over).
"Pretending you've only got 10 or 12 balls to face."
At this stage the Bushfire Bash is slated to be played on the same wicket as the BBL final, potentially putting even more pressure on organisers to deliver optimal conditions for the T20 decider should the big wet hit Sydney later in the week.
Even if the charity match is abandoned, plans are being drawn up for all-time greats such as Brian Lara and Shane Warne to still entertain the crowd.
The Sixers have plenty of power at the top of the order with James Vince and Josh Phillipe, but it's likely clean-hitting captain Moises Henriques would be promoted up the order in the event that rain cuts the number overs below 10.
Bowling would also become treacherous for those charged with stopping a six-hitting onslaught where batters can go berserk knowing they only have a handful of overs to face.
"It's just how you bowl knowing you might only have six balls to make an impact on the final. It's going to be tough," said Hazlewood.
"It's just having a really clear plan and sticking to it. You've got to adapt to conditions to what the wicket's like. It's probably worse when batters are in at the end (of a twenty over game) and you have to bowl."
Sixers stars Josh Hazlewood and Sean Abbott both said they'd rather play cross-town rivals the Thunder in an all-Sydney final - but Hazlewood at least believes the Melbourne Stars will overcome their finals' hoodoo and win through on Thursday.
The Sixers clinched the win of the BBL season when they beat the Thunder in a thrilling super over earlier in January, and Abbott says the men in magenta can draw on that experience.
"We can definitely call upon the conversations we had after that game. That was an advantage we've had," he said.
Thunder's Tremain happy to stick to the plan
Thunder death bowler Chris Tremain insists he won't be hampered by any scars in Thursday's grand final qualifier despite last weekend's nightmare of wides.
Tremain bowled four wides in the third last over of last Saturday's knockout semi against Adelaide, before the Thunder managed to overcome the 16 runs conceded to pull off a thrilling win.
The over was like a horror movie on replay, but the experienced star has explained the lapse was far from the most traumatic moment of his career.
Tremain says he has processed the forgettable moment under pressure as a game plan gone wrong rather than a meltdown and denies the mental demons could return when the whips are cracking against the Melbourne Stars at the MCG.
"I wouldn't think so. Funnily enough, I've had worse overs," said Tremain.
"I had one at the MCG a few years ago where I bowled about five or six wides in it and it only went for eight runs. This one went for 16.
"It was our plan to go wide. It was our plan to go slow.
"I think Nes (Adelaide's Michael Neser) actually played it really well. He was going wider and wider and I was trying to go wider … and he counterpunched our plan really well.
"I wasn't overly disappointed. If I'm going to miss and if I'm going to stuff something up, I'm going to do it attempting to do our plan."
Tremain says there was nothing but support from skipper Callum Ferguson and the coaching staff despite the errant over, which could have proved costly if not for the execution of Daniel Sams and Chris Morris in the final two overs.
"You've always got support from coaches and teammates when you miss trying to execute your plan," he said.
"If you miss trying to execute something that's way away from the plan that you've organised, then you're going to have a big issue when you walk off the field."
Tremain admits the reality of Twenty20 cricket is that it's far easier to be cast as the villain than the hero, but says he won't be burdened by it if Thursday's blockbuster goes down to the wire.
"I'm more nervous bowling my first over than my last," he said.
"The sad thing about T20 cricket is that individuals lose games, but teams win it.
"If a team has a really good game and puts together their 40 overs, the team did really well.
"If someone has a shocking over at the wrong time, or gets out at the wrong time, they supposedly lose the game for their team."