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September 18, 2013
Preview : Depleted Scorchers seek strong start
News : Alfonso, Marsh out of Perth squad
News : Hamstring injury puts Mitchell Marsh out of CLT20
Audio/Video: Scorchers look to hit reset button on CLT20
Series/Tournaments: Champions League Twenty20
Although they have been hit by the unavailability of key players, the Perth Scorchers know that, at least, the Champions League T20 can hardly be more disastrous for them than it was last year. On the field at the 2012 tournament they won one from four matches but it was off the field that the squad's discipline really broke down, with a big night out on the town in the lead-up to a must-win game the catalyst for change. The captain Marcus North and coach Lachlan Stevens both resigned from their positions with the Scorchers and Western Australia after the squad returned home, and Justin Langer was brought in as the new mentor, while Simon Katich is now in charge of the Twenty20 side on the field.
Unfortunately for the Scorchers, they will enter this year's tournament without either their leading run-scorer from the BBL last summer (Shaun Marsh) or their top wicket taker (Alfonso Thomas). Marsh was ruled out after hurting his hamstring during Australia's limited-overs series in England and Thomas is unavailable due to his commitments with Somerset. The absence of Mitchell Marsh, due to a hamstring problem like his brother, leaves the squad without three of its key men and the depth will be seriously tested in a group alongside Mumbai Indians, Rajasthan Royals and Lions.
The squad features plenty of spin options, with the veteran Brad Hogg joined by Ashton Agar, Ashton Turner and Michael Beer, but whether they have the necessary batting firepower in the absence of the Marsh brothers remains to be seen. Greater responsibility will fall on Adam Voges as a potential big-hitter, although Katich's recent form in England in T20 and the longer form suggests he is striking the ball as freely as he ever has.
At 42, and five and a half years after his initial retirement from international cricket, Brad Hogg continues to defy expectations. He was second only to Thomas on the Scorchers' wickets list in the most recent BBL season with 11 victims at 20.27 and a strike-rate of 6.75, and in spinning subcontinent conditions he will be an important man in the attack.
Michael Beer does not immediately spring to mind when Australia's selectors consider their best T20 spinners, but no Australian slow bowler apart from Hogg took more wickets than Beer during the 2012-13 BBL. His ten victims came at 21.30 and although he never took more than two in a match, he was consistently tight, going at just 5.91 an over. His height and bounce make him a handy spinner in Australian conditions, but how he adjusts to the Indian pitches remains a question.
Without Thomas and Nathan Coulter-Nile, who will play for Mumbai Indians, the Scorchers pace attack looks thin and will rely on men who are far from household names, such as Jason Behrendorff, Burt Cockley and Joe Mennie. There is also a question mark over the ability of the batting order to score big and fast, with players like Marcus North and Katich more renowned as long-form batsmen.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Brydon Coverdale
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