BBL Player prediction : Who will replace Stephen Smith and Usman Khawaja?

Brisbane Heat and Sydney Sixers have been left pondering the sizeable batting holes of their departed Test players ahead of Thursday’s clash at the SCG with a grand final spot up for grabs.

Heat captain Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne and Matt Renshaw, along with Sixers opener Steven Smith, will be unavailable for the ‘Challenger’ final due to being part of Australia’s Test tour of India.

The Heat trio sparked a resurgence with the team winning six of their last seven matches after being mired for much of the season near the bottom of the ladder.

They each made important contributions in finals victories on the road against Sydney Thunder and Melbourne Renegades to have Heat positioned for an unlikely tilt at a second BBL title.

But without three of their top four, Heat’s batting depth will be tested as they recalled Nathan McSweeney, Max Bryant and Sam Heazlett to curb an expected fired-up Sixers attack, who were clobbered by Scorchers batters Ashton Turner and Cameron Bancroft in the qualifying final. McSweeney has only played in three games this season, but he smashed 84 of 51 pitches in the Heat’s 15-run victory over the Sixers in the High Scoring Contest in Gabba on January 1. most noticed.

Once part of a devastating opening partnership with Chris Lynn, big hitter Bryant has failed to shoot in seven games this season, averaging just 15.71.

The 27-year-old Heazlett hasn’t played yet this season, but in the last seven seasons he has appeared in his 48 games for the BBL, so the bright lights of the final won’t faze him.

“We’ve lost some Australian players, but the guys we brought in have played in this format before, so no problem,” said Heat manager Wade Secombe. They were playing when they came in.”

The Sixer doesn’t have a lot of holes to fill, but it does need to replace Smith, who lit the BBL with his centuries-old ballistic punch. Veteran hitter Jordan Silk, who signed a three-year contract with the Sixers, said, “I’ve played 10 games without Steve and won a few, so I’m familiar with the group.

The Sixers seem to have a ready-made replacement in stubborn Daniel Hughes, who has been a reliable hitter for the Sixers for years, but is limited to just three games this season.

“[Hughes] has been training well. He’s had a great year in the group. He’s probably one of the less fortunate players who don’t play in this competition,” said Silk. said. “He’s been a reliable performer with the Sixers for years.”

Curtis Patterson, who emerged as a starter in last season’s title-winning campaign for the Perth Scorchers, has other options and could be considered for a move up after struggling in third place since Smith’s return. . All-rounder Hayden Carr was able to regain height from comparable games last season. He posted an undefeated 98 in a memorable opening day and overtook the Sixers over the Adelaide Strikers in the Last Ball Thriller.

“(Carr) is a key element for us in this middle-to-lower tier,” Silk said. “I don’t know if we’ll see his value at the top in a match like this, but you never know what’s going to happen there. He was probably just too good at the role he played as a six-year-old and wanted to change. It couldn’t have been justified.”

The Sixers are aiming for their seventh major endgame appearance, and said the Sixers would target the Heat’s redesigned batting lineup.

“They have some big holes from their punch sense,” Silk said. “If you look back at the Gabba game without a (Test) batsman, [Josh] Brown and McSweeney did well. Queensland has produced very good cricketers. and we will conduct an investigation.”

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