Sydney Sixers and Brisbane Heat need replacements for Australia stars in crunch BBL final
Brisbane Heat and Sydney Sixers have recalled the huge batting holes of their departed Test players ahead of Thursday’s clash at the SCG with a grand final spot on the line.
The Heat trio have sparked a resurgence with the team winning six of their last seven games after being stuck near the bottom of the ladder for much of the season.
They each made key contributions in finals wins on the road against Sydney Thunder and Melbourne Renegades to position the Heat for an unlikely upset at a second BBL title.
Once part of a devastating opening partnership with Chris Lynn, the big-hitting Bryant has failed to fire from seven matches this season, averaging just 15.71.
27-year-old Heazlett has yet to play this season, but the bright finals lights should not hinder him as he has amassed 48 BBL appearances over the past seven seasons.
“We’ve lost some of our Australian players, but the guys we’re bringing in have played the format before, so I don’t have a problem with that,” Heat coach Wade Seccombe said. “They acted when they came in.”
Sixers don’t have as many holes to fill but nevertheless need to replace Smith, who lit up the BBL with ballistic batting marked by back-to-back centuries.
Nathan McSweeney to return to Brisbane Heat’s lineup•Getty Images
“We’ve played 10 games without Steve and had a couple of wins along the way, so we’re familiar with this group,” said veteran batsman Jordan Silk, who re-signed with the Sixers on a three-year deal.
Sixers appear to have a ready-made replacement in stalwart Daniel Hughes, who has been a reliable batsman for Sixers over the years but has been limited to just three games this season.
“[Hughes] trained well, he was good in the group all year. He’s probably one of the more unlucky players in the competition not to play,” Silk said. “He’s been a reliable performer with the Sixers for a number of years.”
There are other options with Kurtis Patterson, who starred during Perth Scorchers’ title-winning run last season, potentially being considered for a move up after batting at No.3 since Smith’s return.
“[Kerr] is an important piece for us in that middle to lower order,” Silk said. “Whether we’ll see his value up top in a game like this, I’m not sure what will happen. He was almost too good in the role he played at six to move him.”
As they eye a seventh grand finals appearance, Silk said Sixers will target Heat’s new-look bat.
“They have some big holes from a batting standpoint,” Silk said. “If we look back at the game at the Gabba, where they were without those [Test] batsmen, [Josh] Brown and McSweeney performed. Queensland produces very good cricketers. We will do our research so we can stop them.”
The winner against Perth Scorchers on Saturday at Optus Stadium with a crowd of over 50,000 expected.