Reserve day an option for SCG BBL|10 decider
Big Bash officials have a contingency to call upon if rain ruins Saturday night’s decider, while a potential clash with a flight across the Tasman is set to be avoided
Louis Cameron in Canberra
5 February 2021, 09:40 AM AEST
The introduction of a reserve day for this season’s KFC BBL final will all but ensure the title will not be awarded to the Sydney Sixers by default following last season’s miraculous near miss.
And it is expected that a potential clash between a reserve-day final and the Australian T20 squad’s departure for the Qantas T20 tour of New Zealand will be averted if the decider does need to be rescheduled for Sunday.
Cricket Australia quietly introduced a reserve day for the BBL final ahead of the ongoing season after the absence of one last year came in for heavy scrutiny when Sydney was drenched by 200 millimetres of rain in the 72 hours before the decider.
While a herculean effort from the SCG groundstaff ensured a 12-over game was played – with the Sixers coming out on top – the close call prompted officials to alter Big Bash playing conditions before the 2020-21 season to allow for the final to be played the following day if no result is possible.
While there is up to 8mm of rain forecast in Sydney tomorrow and a 50 per cent chance of showers during the match, the prospect of no play between the Sixers and Scorchers on Saturday night does seem unlikely.
CA will do everything in its power to get play underway on Saturday, with a five-over-a-side game enough to constitute a full match.
The reserve-day provision had loomed as having implications for Australia’s upcoming series against the Black Caps across the Tasman, adding to the long list of hurdles for League officials to overcome in pulling off the complete Big Bash season.
Australia’s 18-man T20 squad flies to New Zealand on a charter flight on Sunday and a third of that Aussie playing group - the Sixers’ Josh Philippe along with Scorchers players Jason Behrendorff, Ashton Turner, Jhye Richardson, Andrew Tye and Mitch Marsh – are taking part in the final.
But it is expected a Sunday final would be played earlier in the day to allow those players to also make the flight for New Zealand.
It is vital the squad leaves on Sunday given their first game against the Black Caps is being played in Christchurch on February 22 - a day after they are scheduled to finish their 14-day quarantine period.
Jason Behrendorff said earlier this week players had not yet discussed the possible clash and that they’d leave it up to the powers that be to determine how any logistical issues would be solved.
“It’s an ever-changing beast with everything happening with COVID-19 as well,” said the left-arm quick.
“As players, realistically we won’t have to (make) that decision, that will be a decision made above our pay grade, by those who run the BBL and Cricket Australia.”
Jason Behrendorff made the powerplay his own with the wickets of both Heat openers! 💪@BKTtires | #BBL10 pic.twitter.com/8IRC2umaiT— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) February 4, 2021
While many of Australia’s best short-format players are missing the tour given they were expected to be in South Africa for a now-postponed Test series, it remains a golden opportunity for the likes of Behrendorff to push for spots in this year’s T20 World Cup.
The 30-year-old admitted he had been filled with child-like glee when selector George Bailey told him his strong BBL form had been rewarded with a national recall.
Behrendorff has not played for Australia since the 2019 ODI World Cup and has endured a torrid run with back injuries.
He underwent the same radical spinal surgery in October 2019 that has helped save James Pattinson’s career.
Despite going more than a year without playing any cricket before making his return with the Scorchers in December last year, Behrendorff has been integral to the club’s success this season and delivered again on Thursday evening with the key wicket of Chris Lynn in their Challenger final victory over the Brisbane Heat.
“Excited is probably an understatement,” he said of his Australian call-up. “It’s something I’ve worked incredibly hard for and I can’t wait to get back there and join that squad.
“As I said to (selector) George Bailey when he gave me the call, I feel like a kid at Christmas. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.”
BBL|10 Finals Series (all matches will screen on Channel 7, Fox Cricket & Kayo)
The Eliminator: Brisbane Heat (4) beat Adelaide Strikers (5) by six wickets
The Qualifier: Sydney Sixers (1) beat Perth Scorchers (2) by nine wickets
The Knock-Out: Brisbane Heat (4) beat Sydney Thunder (3) by seven wickets
The Challenger: Perth Scorchers (2) beat Brisbane Heat (4) by 49 runs (DLS)