The bookies have got Perth Scorchers as heavy favourites to win the inaugural Big Bash title Down Under.
The Scorchers started the tournament as rank outsiders, but propelled by some explosive batting from Herschelle Gibbs (302 runs at 50.33), skipper Marcus North (251 runs at 41.83) and emerging starlet Mitchell Marsh (232 runs at 38.66) – plus the bowling of evergreen tongue-waggler Brad Hogg (12 wickets at 13.50 and an economy rate of 5.40. Not bad for a bloke the wrong side of 40…) – they’ve taken the competition by storm.
Their comfortable 11-run victory over Shane Warne’s Melbourne Stars in the semi-finals handed them home advantage for the tournament’s grand finale, and such is their form that Betfair are only offering odds of 1.86 [5/6] on them being crowned champions. The odds would be even shorter if Paul Collingwood could buy a run – he’s amassed 81 runs at 13.50 from his eight knocks so far (knowing Colly though, that means a backs-to-the-wall masterpiece is just around the corner…).
Their opponents are the Sydney Sixers, who overcame the Hobart Hurricanes – Owais Shah and all – to book their place at the final. They started the competition poorly but are now on a four-match winning streak, thanks primarily to the runs of emerging talent Nic Maddison (265 runs at 33.12) and the efforts of their bowlers – Mitchell Starc is their leading wicket-taker with 11 scalps, but three other bowlers (Brett Lee, Stuart MacGill and skipper Steve Smith) have picked up six wickets. Betfair have them at 2.14 [11/10] to wind up as champions, which might just be a worthwhile gamble; Perth’s notorious rapid deck famously favours speedsters, which should suit Starc and Lee down to the ground.
Of other potential bets, the 4.5 [7/2] being offered on Maddison to top-score in the match is probably attracting the most attention, but it’s a tough one to call – both teams have varied and potent bowling attacks who are in great form. Whatever happens, with both teams possessing a bevvy of international stars, it should make for an enthralling contest.
For all the latest odds check out www.betfair.com