South Australia aim to end trophy drought
Saturday, February 5, Adelaide Oval
Start time 7pm (0830 GMT)
The Big Picture
The Big Bash final determines who holds the silverware but in reality, both South Australia and New South Wales are already big winners. By qualifying for the decider, they have earned a place at the Champions League Twenty20 later this year and, as the Blues are well aware having won that worldwide tournament in 2009, there are serious riches on offer at the multi-million dollar event. But for now, the prize is the Big Bash trophy, and it will be the last chance for the states to win the competition in its current format, because by next season the new Big Bash League will feature eight city-based teams instead of the existing state sides.
It's also an opportunity for the Redbacks to end a trophy drought that has stretched out to 15 years. They haven't won any silverware since the Sheffield Shield in 1995-96, and the state's cricket fans are anxious for something to celebrate. New South Wales haven't much room in their prize cabinet after a successful decade, and they are the only team apart from Victoria to have won the Big Bash, having triumphed in 2008-09.
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Watch out for...Patrick Cummins is only 17, but already he's created a stir. A fast bowler who has hit remarkable speeds for a teenager - up to 146kph - Cummins is the leading wicket taker in the competition with 11 victims at 11.54. He has been such a standout that there have been calls to rush him into the Sheffield Shield side, but his captain Stuart Clark is mindful of giving him too much work.
"There is perhaps a case of too much cricket at a young age for players, who then all of a sudden are not doing a lot, then bowling a heap," Clark said. "It seems that's where injuries happen with the young guys and that we need to be mindful of that at the moment. We need to be careful we don't burn Pat out, as the risk would be high. The workload of going from four overs to bowling 40 overs a week in Shield cricket is very different."
At the other end of the pace spectrum, the equally inexperienced Nathan Lyon has been a revelation for South Australia in the Big Bash this summer. A 23-year-old offspinner who moved from the ACT five months ago, Lyon was picked for his adopted state in their Big Bash opener in January, and now he's collected nine wickets at 17.55. The Redbacks have used him to open the bowling on several occasions, and he could be especially useful in taking the pace off the ball against the New South Wales opener David Warner, who enjoys hitting the fast men.
"Darren Berry and Michael Klinger have been really good, telling me to be brave and back my skills against all these top-class bats, the likes of Chris Gayle," Lyon said. "Our gameplan has been to take the pace off the ball. It's been working pretty well for us."
Team newsThe Redbacks are missing three important players, with Kieron Pollard having returned to West Indies duties, and Callum Ferguson and Shaun Tait in the Australian one-day squad. The batsmen Tom Cooper and James Smith will vie for Ferguson's place, while the attack will once again be based around spin - Lyon, Aaron O'Brien and the English import Adil Rashid, whose legbreaks have been particularly difficult for opposition batsmen to get away.
South Australia squad Michael Klinger (capt), Daniel Harris, Aiden Blizzard, James Smith, Cameron Borgas, Tom Cooper, Daniel Christian, Graham Manou (wk), Aaron O'Brien, Adil Rashid, Kane Richardson, Jake Haberfield, Nathan Lyon.
The Blues also have a few players with the Australian side, as usual, but there is still plenty of class in their line-up - so much so that they couldn't squeeze Phillip Hughes into the side. Warner is the key at the top, while Ben Rohrer has guided the middle order and Cummins has been the star with the ball. Unlike South Australia, New South Wales rely more heavily on their fast men, and the spin duties could fall to the uncapped left-armer Luke Doran, along with the part-timer Dominic Thornely. Steve O'Keefe was unavailable due to a calf injury.
New South Wales squad David Warner, Daniel Smith (wk), Phil Jaques, Ben Rohrer, Peter Forrest, Dominic Thornely, Moises Henriques, Tim Armstrong, Sean Abbott, Scott Coyte, Luke Doran, Stuart Clark (capt), Patrick Cummins.
Pitch and conditionsThe Adelaide Oval surface usually helps the spinners more than the fast men, and that's been even more apparent this summer. "The wicket has been a bit slower than what it has been traditionally for this competition," the South Australia batsman Aiden Blizzard said, "and the spinners have done a great job in our team." The forecast for Saturday is for a light shower or two clearing by the evening, and a top temperature of 23C.
Stats and trivia
- The teams have met in five Twenty20 matches, of which South Australia have only won one - in Newcastle four years ago
- Aiden Blizzard will be playing in his fifth Big Bash final - more than any other individual - having turned out in four for Victoria
- The two leading run scorers in the tournament this year are both playing in this game - Warner has 277 runs at 55.40, while the South Australian opener Daniel Harris has made 256 at 51.20
- Last time South Australia won any silverware - the 1995-96 Sheffield Shield - their fast bowler Kane Richardson was five years old
Quotes"A lot has happened since that game. We've had five really good wins since then. Their team was a little bit different, they had Brett Lee and Bollinger; now they've got a very young team."
Michael Klinger isn't worried that New South Wales beat South Australia in their only Big Bash clash this year
"I was just happy to get the opportunity to play one game, but to play in five and get to a final, it is unreal."
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.