Ashton Turner backs uncertainty to galvanise Perth Scorchers
There are only two games locked in for Perth with Covid-19 potentially causing more disruption
Captain Ashton Turner refused to be drawn into whether Perth Scorchers had the toughest challenge in the upcoming BBL amid ongoing pandemic hurdles, instead striking confidence that his team is well equipped to handle any arising drama.
The Covid-19 situation across Australia continues to cause headaches on the eve of the new BBL season exacerbated by the unknown of the Omicron variant.
With Western Australia implementing the strictest border controls in the country, where travellers from New South Wales and Victoria are not currently allowed into the state, Scorchers could face lengthy stints on the road much like last season when they only played four games at Optus Stadium.
Scorchers start their season against Brisbane Heat at home on December 8, but their next fixture against Adelaide Strikers on December 11 had to be moved to Sydney due to changed border rules.
Their only other confirmed match at Optus Stadium is against Hobart Hurricanes on December 20.
There are fears chaos could ensue during Scorchers' bid to end a five-year title drought, but Turner sought a positive approach.
"We know we are going to get challenged," he said as he was unveiled as Scorchers' permanent captain on Wednesday. "There is a bit of uncertainty over where we will play our games. It's something we've had time to prepare for. Everyone is used to changing schedules and fixturing at the last minute."
Against the odds, Scorchers were runners-up last season and showcased a resolve reminiscent of their golden era under Justin Langer. Turner, who was the interim captain last season relieving then skipper Mitchell Marsh, believed they could once again be "galvanised" if the situation goes awry.
"We feel like we can be adaptable. We have a team that can play on the east coast," he said. "I think there is a real benefit of being in a confined space together for a long period of time."
Coupled with the off-field uncertainty, there is an unknown over a new-look Scorchers outfit without big-hitting openers Jason Roy and Liam Livingstone. It will add burden on returning international Colin Munro who has an extra point to prove after missing selection for New Zealand's T20 World Cup squad.
Turner, however, believed the Scorchers had the "flexibility" to cover the absences of the dynamic Englishmen. "It will be a different approach this year. Mitch Marsh is probably the in-form T20 batter in the world and will move up the order," he said. "I'm looking forward to Kurtis Patterson coming into the team and Cameron Bancroft having a more stable position at the top of the order."
Scorchers will be short-handed at the start of the season with several stars on Ashes and Australia A duties, including in-form quick Jhye Richardson who Turned tipped to be absent for a while to come.
"He's only getting better and better and I can't wait to watch him on TV playing in the Ashes," he said.
Stepping into the captaincy permanently, Turner takes the reins of the BBL's most successful franchise which returned back to prominence last season after a couple of years in the wilderness.
"We've got a rich history...Katich, Voges, Marsh left their legacies," he said. "It's hard to emulate those guys who have come before. I'm learning, trying to get better.
"I'm hopeful for the best case scenario [this season]. We don't know what happens [after the first two home games]. But what we can do is focus on the first game and we're excited to play."
Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth