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October 12, 2012
Western Australia was the powerhouse of Australian domestic cricket during the 1980s and 1990s but the state has had a lean past decade, having not won a title in any format since 2003-04. The only time they have made a final since then was in the 2007-08 Big Bash, when they lost to Victoria. Reaching the decider was enough to qualify them for the inaugural Champions League Twenty20, which was cancelled due to the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks. Finally, four years later the state has regained its place at the Champions League, although now the team is called the Perth Scorchers and they have on their books players from all over Australia, as well as abroad. Still, success at this tournament would be considered a drought-breaker for the state of Western Australia. But they will enter the Champions League as the less-fancied of the two Australian teams.
The Scorchers are captained by Marcus North and they are a side with plenty of experience - Simon Katich, Paul Collingwood, Herschelle Gibbs and Brad Hogg have all spent a decade or so playing at international level. They could also have had Michael Hussey, who was part of their squad for the Big Bash League but instead is playing with the Chennai Super Kings at this tournament, and Mitchell Johnson, who is with the Mumbai Indians. But, throw in the Marsh brothers, Shaun and Mitchell, and the wicketkeeper-batsman Luke Ronchi and there is plenty of batting depth on the Scorchers roster. They had three of the top six run scorers in the BBL last season: Mitchell Marsh, Gibbs and North.
The challenge will be restricting their opponents. Their two main spinners, Hogg and Michael Beer, both have international experience, but none of their fast bowlers have played for their country. Nathan Coulter-Nile is a fine young prospect who played for Australia A this year and has been earmarked for higher honours by the national selectors, but otherwise the pace stocks are made up of journeymen - Ben Edmondson and Nathan Rimmington - and newer faces - Joe Mennie and Ryan Duffield. They are solid enough domestic performers but containing some of the world's best batsmen will require a major step up in class.
How they qualified
The Scorchers finished on top of the table after the BBL qualifying matches and beat the Melbourne Stars in the semi-final. It meant they were favourites in the decider, playing at home to the Sydney Sixers, but Moises Henriques and Brett Lee led a strong Sixers outfit to deny the Scorchers, who had to settle for being the runners-up and qualifying for the Champions League.
Mitchell Marsh is only 20, but already he has established a reputation as a damaging T20 player. He was the second leading run scorer in the BBL with 309 runs at 51.50 and also provides a useful bowling option. His clean hitting and ability to clear the boundary will make him a very important man for the Scorchers, who have several other batsmen - North, Katich and Collingwood, for example - who are likely to score their runs more conventionally.
Brad Hogg was 40 when he was enticed out of retirement by the Scorchers for the BBL and his enthusiasm and hard to read wrong'un made him one of their major weapons. He finished equal third on the wicket tally and even earned a recall to Australia's team and a place at the World T20, where he was solid without really having a major impact. At least he should be well warmed up for this event.
The two question-marks around the Scorchers concern their fast bowling and their middle order. It is not that they do not have quality fast men - Ben Edmondson was the BBL's second leading wicket taker, for example - but that they have not been tested at international level. Edmondson, Duffield, Rimmington, Coulter-Nile and Mennie will need to find ways to contain some of the world's best batsmen. And the middle order lacks the kind of explosive hitters that the best T20 sides usually possess. They will need plenty of boundaries from Mitchell Marsh and Ronchi.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Brydon Coverdale
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