Perth Scorchers strive for swift rise back up the ladder

Jhye Richardson poses for selfies with fans Getty Images

The Perth Scorchers were supposed to celebrate their new shiny stadium in style last season. Instead, it was a nightmare campaign for the the three-time champions, under new coach Adam Voges, who fell to rock bottom. Until then, the Scorchers had made every finals.

In the wake of collecting the dreaded wooden spoon, there has been a lot of soul searching for the proud Perth-franchise who had firmly established themselves as the hottest ticket locally amid a crowded summer market.

But there are many unknowns for the new-look Scorchers, who have lost a slew of regulars and been bitten by injury. As they prepare to open their season against Sydney Sixers, let us breakdown the main talking points as they strive for a swift rise back up the ladder.

New look top order

One of the Scorchers' main pillars during the Justin Langer era was continuity. The key plank was top-order stability led by reliable openers Michael Klinger and Shaun Marsh - two of the most prolific BBL players ever. However, with Marsh largely absent and Klinger struggling in his final season, the Scorchers' top-order was unsettled, underlined by the seven different opening combinations they used.

After Marsh's shock exit to Melbourne Renegades, the Scorchers need to unlock a new combination. Cameron Bancroft has often been used in the middle-order, but appears a suitable replacement for Klinger at the top. Emerging batsman Josh Inglis is in line to also start as an opener after impressing for Western Australia in the Shield, where he recently fell short of a maiden century.

Voges could opt to pair the aggressive Inglis with English recruit Liam Livingstone in what would go against the Scorchers' traditional tactics at the top. Recruit Kurtis Patterson will also be eyeing a top-order berth but is set to miss the opening few weeks of the season due to a quadricep injury.

Mitchell Marsh needs to fire

If he hadn't punched a wall during a moment of madness in a Shield match, Mitchell Marsh might well be playing for Australia. Instead, his prospects of an imminent recall appear remote after being left out of the ODI squad for India next month.

It's been a miserable time for Marsh but the silver lining for the Scorchers is that he should be available for the entirety of the BBL. Marsh will play against Sydney Sixers, although a return to bowling is a way off as his wrist recovers.

Even so, a firing Marsh with the bat is exactly what the Scorchers need after they had the lowest run rate last season at just over seven-an-over and were overly reliant on Ashton Turner, who has been selected to tour India.

Marsh, Turner and explosive youngster Cameron Green could form a potentially damaging middle-order - something the Scorchers severely lacked last season with departed allrounder Hilton Cartwright completely out of sorts.

Shaky attack

For so long, the Scorchers' attack was the backbone of the team. They seemingly could defend any total through their eclectic quicks and accurate spinners such as Brad Hogg and Ashton Agar.

As has been a bane for some time in the West, injuries have struck spearhead Jason Behrendorff and death overs specialist Andrew Tye. Western Australian cricket has been blessed with a rotating line of quicks over the years but depth will be tested with Nathan Coulter-Nile having left for Melbourne Stars.

The Scorchers were able to trial youngsters last season with Matthew Kelly being a notable beneficiary. He unveiled a lethal yorker on several occasions making him a potential option to replace Tye's trickery in the latter overs.

A pace attack of Kelly, English recruit Chris Jordan, Jhye Richardson and Joel Paris - the forgotten left-armer who played two ODIs against India in 2016 - has the potential to measure up against previous menacing Scorchers pace arsenals.

The spin department, however, looms as a weakness much like last season. Agar has been selected to tour India putting pressure on veteran recruit Fawad Ahmed to perform.

Pressure on Adam Voges

After a poor start to his stint, where the side won only four games, Voges has a chance to rejuvenate the Scorchers' methodology which did look rather stale last season.

There are a couple of areas, however, he should take from the Justin Langer play book. Undoubtedly, he would have spent a fair bit of time sharpening the team's fielding - an aspect where they were almost peerless in before last season's standard dipped.

Internal expectations will continue to be high for the Scorchers ensuring Voges will be feeling the pinch. Externally, however, the Scorchers have been somewhat written off in an opportunity for Voges to tap into a hallmark of the Langer era and instill a backs against the wall mentality.

Establishing Perth Stadium as a fortress

Before last season, playing the Scorchers in Perth was the most feared prospect in the BBL. At the WACA, appropriately dubbed as 'The Furnace', capacity crowds intimidated opponents and, simultaneously, spurred the Scorchers.

The Scorchers won 25 of 36 matches at the WACA before moving across the opposite bank of the Swan River. The home edge hasn't been the same since for the Scorchers who have won just three of eight matches at Perth Stadium.

It's hard to exactly pinpoint the struggles. There has been a purposeful push for the Perth Stadium pitch to mirror the fast-paced WACA and, accordingly, it did play quickly last season. Perhaps the Scorchers just weren't good enough.

Yet there are differences with the Burswood ground featuring massive square boundaries. Particularly in batting, the Scorchers simply weren't able to exploit them but maybe it's just a matter of time before they master the nuances. After all, they started slowly at the WACA by winning just six of 11 across the opening two BBL seasons.

The harder challenge might be replicating the WACA's intimate atmosphere, where almost every game was sold out. Perth Stadium has been criticised for being sterile and - whether you agree with that sentiment or not - big crowds are needed for the massive stadia to come alive.

Huge home crowds fuelled a surprising AFL premiership run for West Coast Eagles in 2018. The Scorchers are unlikely to get the 50,000-plus numbers West Coast attracted but would be hoping for something around the 40,000 mark - which is what they started with last season before the wheels fell off.

By the end of their miserable campaign, the Scorchers were attracting a lowly crowd of barely over 16,000 - which just won't frighten any visiting team.