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Travel-weary Perth Scorchers still up for both the fight and flights

Chris Jordan surrounded by his Scorchers team-mates after taking a wicket Getty Images

Adam Voges had no idea what day it was.

The Perth Scorchers coach knew he was in Perth. It was Wednesday, a game day against the Melbourne Stars. But just one game in the midst of a brutal travel and playing schedule.

The Scorchers are in the middle of five games in 10 days, including two return trips across the country to Hobart and Melbourne, having already made two of longest trips in the BBL, to the Gold Coast and Geelong, in the first seven days of the new year with a home game in between.

Perth is the furthest outpost in the BBL, a three-hour flight from their nearest rivals Adelaide, and they do not play consecutive games either at home or on the road until the final week of the season.

After a three-game winning streak, the heavy defeat against the Melbourne Stars should come as no surprise. The Stars flew to Perth on Monday two days out from the match, on the same day the Scorchers beat the Hobart Hurricanes in Hobart. The Scorchers then endured a four-hour flight delay in Melbourne prior to the second flight on their trip home on Tuesday ahead of the game on Wednesday. The Scorchers then have to front up again at the airport on Friday to travel to play the Stars in Melbourne on Saturday before flying home to host the Sydney Thunder on Monday.

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Voges said the playing group have just endured as best they can. "Winning helps," he told ESPNcricinfo ahead of the Wednesday's game against the Stars. "The boys have been playing some really good cricket which I think has taken away a little bit of the schedule. We spoke about it at the start of the tournament that particularly this period was going to be tough. We tried to plan as best we could around recovery and the flights and that sort of stuff just to make sure it was as smooth as possible.

"We couldn't, unfortunately, plan for flight delays. The guys to their credit have been brilliant, they've just got on with it even though we got stuck a bit yesterday but they just got on with it really well. It's been difficult. We're tired no doubt, but the boys have been excellent."

The Scorchers have been reluctant to be critical of the schedule, as difficult as it has been. Requests for particular home fixtures in Perth, such as Boxing Day against the Sydney Sixers, as well as the new condensed season has played its part. They knew of their predicament well in advance and planned accordingly.

"We've got massages after most flights," Voges said. "We give the boys game days, that's theirs. If they want to sleep all day before the game that's really up to them. We try and get out for a walk and a stretch after every flight and have massages for the boys and we just focus really heavily on recovery after games particularly in this heavy period.

"It builds resilience as much as anything. The confidence that comes with some good performances, there's no doubt that that's certainly helping. It's a credit to all the players and all the staff who have spent a lot of time trying to get this right. We had three staff members at the airport yesterday with a van ready to take the kits to Perth Stadium just to make sure it's all ready for them when they rock up today. Just the little things like that we've done really well. But the resilience in the group to get up and perform the way we have has been great."

There has been no chance to train during this stretch, something that the coach thinks might be helping.

"Maybe that's a blessing in one way," Voges said. "We've literally just had to prepare ourselves to get up for 40 overs. We have a day off tomorrow and that will be a full day off before we jump on the plane again. Time to get some skill work hasn't really happened. The boys have a bit of a hit before each game. I guess their mental approach has been really important in getting themselves up for each game."

But the travel has taken its toll on a group already hit hard by injuries and absences. Ashton Turner and Ashton Agar are both away with the Australian ODI squad, while Jason Behrendorff and AJ Tye have been unavailable all year through injury. Sam Whiteman was withdrawn prior to Wednesday's clash after his second child was born much earlier than expected. Kurtis Patterson's ongoing quad issues meant Perth had to call up Jaron Morgan from grade cricket to make his BBL debut against the Stars.

After the mass exodus of title-winning players like Michael Klinger, Shaun Marsh, and Nathan Coulter-Nile, few gave the Scorchers much chance of being competitive this season yet they still sit third on the table.

"I think the guys are buying into the game plan which has been really great to see," Voges said. "The guys at the top, they know that they've got a bit of freedom to take the game on and I think Josh Inglis has played exceptionally well.

"I think the partnership that he's developed with Liam Livingstone has been a really important one. They haven't always got us off to flyers but they've contributed in their own way. I think Mitch Marsh has been outstanding as captain and a leader.

"Just seeing the things that we're talking about being implemented out on the field has probably been the most pleasing part."