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News

BBL final: Peirson hopes a 'short turnaround is the best thing' for Heat against runaway favourites Scorchers

Ashton Turner, in typical Scorchers style, chose not to talk up his team's chances, and called Heat's run of wins "an amazing feat"

Jimmy Peirson: "When you are on a roll, you just want to keep the momentum going"  •  Getty Images

Jimmy Peirson: "When you are on a roll, you just want to keep the momentum going"  •  Getty Images

Back on January 7, after being thrashed by Perth Scorchers at Optus Stadium, the finals weren't even on Brisbane Heat's radar. They had just two wins from their first eight matches, after all.
Less than a month later, Heat have journeyed back to Perth, only a win away from a second BBL title.
If they cause a boilover on Saturday against Scorchers, the defending champions, at a sold-out Optus Stadium, Heat would have produced the most remarkable turnaround in BBL history.
"I was actually scratching my head early doors. Winning and losing is a habit either way," Heat captain Jimmy Peirson told reporters on Friday, one day away from the final. "But I always had the belief in our squad."
After that first loss against Scorchers, by seven wickets, they lost the return fixture four days later, by eight wickets. But the return of Test stars Usman Khawaja and Marnus Labuschagne helped galvanise Heat, who won seven of their last eight games to storm into their first BBL final in ten years.
"They brought their class, experience and definitely put us on the right track. We needed that confidence boost," Peirson said of Khawaja and Labuschagne, who both played eight games before heading to India on Australia's Test tour. "Their energy rejuvenated our campaign and that's a big contributing factor to why we're playing some nice cricket now."

Brisbane Heat took the tough route to the final

Heat made it to the title clash the hard way, having won three finals on the road, including an unlikely one against powerhouses Sydney Sixers on a slow SCG surface. The win was made more impressive because Heat were without Khawaja, Labuschagne, and fellow top-order batter Matt Renshaw. Sixers missed their star batter Steven Smith.
"It's been a little bit surreal. Going into that game we weren't expected to win it," Peirson said. "I was very pleased with the guys and how they executed their roles."
Even though Heat conjured an upset for the ages, there was no time for revelry with Heat spending much of Friday making the long journey from Sydney to Perth. The tight turnaround could be a major disadvantage for Heat against a well-rested Scorchers, who haven't played since last Saturday.
But Peirson believed it could be a silver lining. "We've done it the hard way and found out that less time can be better," he said. "When you have that winning feeling, you can turn up, go through the preparation, and just execute. That's worked for us. Sometimes you can have too long to think.
"When you are on a roll, you just want to keep the momentum going. A short turnaround is probably the best thing for us."

Ashton Turner won't take anything for granted

As they prepared for the big final, Heat were embracing their underdog status before stepping into a cauldron with 55,000 rowdy Scorchers fans.
"We would love to stick it to the crowd, but it's not at the forefront of our mind . We just want to play good cricket against a high quality side," Peirson said. "We've gone through some hurt over the last few years. People have written us off for a long time."
Standing in Heat's way are four-time champions Scorchers, who would be playing their eighth final, but first at Optus.
"For a few years, they [Scorchers fans] have sort of had that carpet of professional sport ripped out from underneath them," Scorchers captain Ashton Turner, said, referring to the fact that the team played only five matches at home during the previous two seasons because of Western Australia's strict Covid-19 rules at the time.
"We just feel so privileged that we're able to give back to our amazing fans that we have in Perth."
Even though they are overwhelming favourites, a cautious Turner, playing by the well-worn Scorchers manual, remained level-headed and wary of Heat, who thwarted a sixth title fight between Scorchers and Sixers.
"You've got to earn the right to play in big games and they've done that, they've won three finals on the bounce which is an amazing feat in itself," Turner said of Heat. "We know that in particularly in T20 cricket, momentum can be such an advantage and I'm sure in their dressing from they'll feel like they're playing good cricket at the moment.
"It's going to be an exciting contest."

Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth