Sixers will ‘scrap, scrap and scrap’ to get advantage
The Sydney Sixers are ready for lift off.
After surprising everyone by making the semi-finals last season with a new-look squad, the men in magenta expect to soar even higher this Big Bash season.
A year wiser but hungrier and more desperate, they're vowing to throw their bodies on the line to do whatever it takes to win - starting with Wednesday night's season opener at the SCG against fierce rivals Perth Scorchers.
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The two most successful franchises in Big Bash history, the teams have clashed in three finals and although this blockbuster is just the first game of the season, the Sixers are preparing for a fight to the death.
"We've always had some tight battles with them and I don't expect this to be any different," Sixers captain Moises Henriques told The Daily Telegraph.
"We both play a fairly similar style of cricket in that we've got typically strong bowling attacks but really good fielding teams that will just scrap and scrap and scrap to try and win the game if the batters don't put a huge total on."
Henriques thinks the match could be so close that fielding could prove the distance which is why the acrobatic Jordan Silk has been leaping around in training to snatch anything that comes near him.
The Sixers beat the Scorchers at the SCG last season but this clash takes on added importance because of Sydney's hectic start to the season, with fixtures against the Hobart Hurricanes in Alice Springs on Friday then the Brisbane Heat back at home on Sunday.
With Steve Smith, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon unavailable until they complete their international duties and Sean Abbott departing soon after being picked for next month's one-day series in India, the Sixers' first three matches could make or break their season.
"After how we went last year and being able to retain most of the players, I'm confidently hopeful that we'll go even better this year than last," Henriques said.
"Attitude is everything and we still have to have that same hunger as last year but just because we had a decent season doesn't mean it's going to happen again with the same group this year so there's a lot of work to be done."
The Sixers go into this clash with real cause for optimism with a strong batting line-up, spearheaded by the in-form veterans Henriques and Daniel Hughes and last season's rookie sensation Josh Philippe, who will start the season opening the innings.
Abbott leads the pace bowling attack with Ben Dwarshuis and England all-rounder Tom Curran back, though it's the spinners Steve O'Keefe and Ben Manenti that could have the biggest impact.
"This is the format of the game that's most difficult to predict anything so really you just hope you can prepare as well as you can, understanding that the competition is moving forward every year," Sixers' coach Greg Shipperd said.
"The Scorchers first up, well there's been a bit of a change in some of their personnel but there's a lot of depth there and cricket intellect in that group historically so they provide a super challenge.
"But they are in unfamiliar conditions at the SCG where there may be a propensity to bowl more spin than they're used to so we'll look at that."