Saturday, January 28
Start time 16.15 local (08.15 GMT)
In a repeat match-up of the BBL's most memorable final yet, a classic in Canberra two years ago to the day, the Perth Scorchers and the Sydney Sixers will meet for what is likely to be the last-ever BBL match at the WACA, with the Scorchers relocating to the new Perth Stadium across the Swan River for the expanded tournament in 2017-18.
No team has dominated this season, but the Scorchers seem to have hit their straps at the right time, with emphatic wins over the Hobart Hurricanes and the Melbourne Stars in the last week, the latter securing their home final. They have a method that is tried, tested, and tried again - if a little defensive - and the depth to cover for absent stars. At the WACA, they are exceedingly hard to beat.
The Sixers are the competition's most intriguing team. They simply refuse to be dull: they have lost to poor teams, won against good ones, collapsed, Super-Overed and everything in between. When the two teams met just after Christmas at the SCG, the Sixers pulled off a dominant victory. The form of their captain Moises Henriques, a BBL finals specialist, will be vital to their hopes of a second title.
Perth Scorchers WWLWL (last five completed matches, most recent first)
Sydney Sixers WWLWW
In the spotlight
Mitchell Johnson sent the Sixers - and other franchises around the world - a message with his gutting of the Stars' top three on Tuesday. His return as a new-ball bowler in the absence of David Willey has been a revelation, and Adam Voges may be tempted to give him all four overs first-up once again. The final will also serve as a neat shop window for Johnson, with the IPL auction scheduled in February. He is a different beast these days, but remains a fearsome prospect.
One of those who will have to fight Johnson's fire is Nic Maddinson, who has endured a torrid time since being dropped from the Test side. In six games, he has managed just 74 runs, and was bowled by Joe Burns, of all people, in the first over of the Sixers' semi-final chase. Maddinson is a class act and a genuine BBL star, so it would be a surprise if he failed to finally free the arms. He should return to No. 3 because of the absence of Colin Munro, giving the Sixers' higgledy-piggledy order a more settled look.
Since their respective semi-finals, both teams have lost players to international call-ups. The Scorchers' Shaun Marsh, who made dazzling half-centuries in each of his last two innings, and the Sixers' Munro have headed across the Tasman Sea to battle for Australia and New Zealand respectively. Hilton Cartwright looks set to replace Marsh, while Jordan Silk would be a like-for-like replacement for Munro, although the Sixers may look to bring in an extra fast-bowling option, with Henry Thornton and Doug Bollinger in the squad.
An intriguing pace option looms for the Scorchers, too. Jason Behrendorff, their all-time leading wicket-taker, was expected to miss the entire tournament while recovering from a fractured leg, but has been in the squad, and captain Voges insisted he was fit and firing in the nets. Jhye Richardson, who has had a good season, would likely make way if Behrendorff were to be risked.
Scorchers (probable) 1 Michael Klinger, 2 Sam Whiteman (wk), 3 Ian Bell, 4 Adam Voges (capt), 5 Hilton Cartwright, 6 Ashton Turner, 7 Ashton Agar, 8 Tim Bresnan, 9 Mitchell Johnson, 10 Andrew Tye, 11 Jhye Richardson
Sixers (probable) 1 Michael Lumb, 2 Daniel Hughes, 3 Nic Maddinson, 4 Moises Henriques (capt), 5 Brad Haddin (wk), 6 Jordan Silk, 7 Johan Botha, 8 Sean Abbott, 9 Ben Dwarshius, 10 Nathan Lyon, 11 Jackson Bird
Pitch and conditions
This is Perth, so it will be sweltering. There has been a bit of chatter about the pitch, which is the same one on which the Scorchers thrashed the Stars on Tuesday. Kevin Pietersen, memorably - and perhaps slightly melodramatically - described it as "unbelievably slow" when miked up for Network Ten. By the time Voges and Henriques toss the coin, the track will have had 40 more overs on it, with the Women's BBL final preceding it.
Stats and trivia
- The Sixers have only lost to the bottom three teams on the ladder this year - the Hurricanes, the Adelaide Strikers and the Sydney Thunder
- These two teams have previously met twice in the final - in 2015 and 2012, with both games oddly played on January 28 - winning one each. The Sixers won the inaugural edition at the WACA, and the Scorchers took the title in the fourth edition at the Manuka Oval
- Henriques played significant innings in both those finals, with 70 off 41 in 2012 and 77 off 57 in 2015.
"It's nice to be at home, no doubt. Great for the fans at a packed house to be able to watch us and the girls. I think it's a significant advantage - we have a good record here against the Sixers, and their game is based a lot around their two excellent spinners, so, hopefully, a fast WACA wicket will nullify them a bit."
Scorchers captain Adam Voges
"We haven't played him [Mitchell Johnson] yet this year. We got the win over them at the SCG, but he didn't play that game. He bowled really well in the semi-final, only going for three runs in his four overs. At the end of the game, he bowls left-arm over, he bowls quick. We are pretty lucky at New South Wales and the Sixers to have a few guys who do something pretty similar to that with Mitch Starc and Doug Bollinger. A lot of guys have faced that sort of stuff before." Sixers captain Moises Henriques
Will Macpherson writes on cricket for the Guardian, ESPNcricinfo and All Out Cricket. @willis_macp