On a roll
With two wins on the trot and several players finding much-needed form, it feels like the tide has finally turned for the men in orange.
Former Test opener Cameron Bancroft took time to find his feet again after returning from a nine-month ball-tampering suspension.
He has improved his score in each of his five games, with his promotion to the top of the order as veteran Michael Klinger’s fifth opening partner of the tournament paying off.
Bancroft has mirrored his team’s return to form, making back-to-back half-centuries including a career-best 87 not out from 61 balls in a player-of-the-match effort against the Sydney Sixers on Sunday night.
He’s all of a sudden Perth’s second-best run-scorer for the tournament with 191 runs at 47.75.
After a lean three-game run when he only took one wicket, change-up specialist Andrew Tye has stormed up the BBL wicket-taking table with six scalps in his past two appearances.
His resurgence has come at the perfect time after the loss of pace duo Jason Behrendorff and Jhye Richardson, who were called up for Australian ODI duties against India.
Pakistani leg-spinner Usman Qadir had his best game in orange against the Sixers after spending most of the tournament on the pine.
Qadir was axed after a nervous debut against the Melbourne Renegades in game one, when he conceded 20 runs in two overs.
He has been back in the side for the past two matches, grabbing two wickets and reducing his economy rate to just 6.62 runs an over.
International stars return
The Scorchers will welcome back four of their best players from international duties for the last five games of the season.
Jhye Richardson and Behrendorff will return to the fold after the final ODI against India on Friday, boosting the team’s bowling attack.
Richardson was player-of-the-match in Perth’s first win of the tournament, grabbing 3-7 to help roll the Adelaide Strikers for just 88, while the consistent Behrendorff took six wickets in five games before his ODI call-up.
The Marsh brothers will also be available after they were dumped from Australia’s squad for the two-Test series against Sri Lanka starting on January 24.
Shaun Marsh averages a touch under 50 in the BBL, the best out of anyone in the top-10 run-scorers in the competition’s history.
He has amassed 1337 runs, including 13 half-centuries, in 34 matches.
Captain Mitch Marsh will help shore up the middle-order, which has struggled for consistency, and provide another bowling option.
Spin-bowling all-rounder Ashton Agar is expected to return from an ankle injury against the ladder-leading Hobart Hurricanes at Optus Stadium on Friday night.
Under-performing players, including veteran Michael Klinger, import David Willey, gloveman Sam Whiteman and former Test all-rounder Hilton Cartwright, are the most likely to be squeezed out when the big guns return.
Turner comes of age
What a tournament Ashton Turner is having.
The stand-in Scorchers skipper sits second on the BBL run-scoring with 300 at an average of 50.
The 25-year-old has scored 210 runs in his past four hits, passing 40 on each occasion and hitting two half-centuries.
Turner was a big reason behind two of the Scorchers’ wins, and he single-handedly got his team within one run of a miraculous victory over the Sydney Thunder with a 36-ball 60.
He is a smart cricketer with a cool head under pressure and the ability to adjust to the task at hand with ease.
His form earned him a call-up to Australia’s ODI squad and will certainly put him in the frame for World Cup honours later in the year.
Turner has improved his batting average in each of the five Big Bash tournaments, from 11.6 in his debut season back in BBL04, to 15 (BBL05), 20.5 (BBL06), 31.5 (BBL07) and 50 this year.
No place like home
After starting the season with four road trips in the first five games, the Scorchers are finally starting to enjoy some home comforts at their new fortress.
Four of the Scorchers’ last six matches, including the next three, will be at Optus Stadium in a massive boost for the team’s BBL finals hopes.
Perth have a 2-1 record at home this summer, with both wins coming against top-four teams.
“We are hoping to create a fortress here over the next couple of games and get the crowd into the game with a couple of wins,” in-form paceman Andrew Tye said.
The last of the Scorchers’ home-and-away matches, against the Adelaide Strikers on February 9, is at a neutral venue, Traeger Park in Alice Springs.
Last time the two sides met in the Red Centre, Perth prevailed comfortably.
People have learnt over the years that it’s foolish to write off the Scorchers.
Perth have been the envy of the Big Bash since its inception, featuring in the finals in each of the seven previous editions of the tournament.
They have won a record three BBL titles in that time and featured in two more grand finals.
Adam Voges’ men may be at the doldrums of the BBL ladder right now with a 3-5 record, but they’re only two wins behind top side Hobart.
The Scorchers are one of three teams, alongside the Brisbane Heat and Melbourne Stars, on three wins, while the Thunder, Sixers, Strikers and Renegades have four wins and as many losses.
How it stands
Hobart Hurricanes 5-1 (Net run rate: 0.438)
Sydney Thunder 4-4 (NRR: 0.304)
Sydney Sixers 4-4 (NRR: 0.037)
Adelaide Strikers 4-4 (NRR: 0.076)
Melbourne Renegades 4-4 (NRR: 0.304)
Brisbane Heat 3-4 (NRR: 0.304)
Melbourne Stars 3-4 (NRR: 0.304)
Perth Scorchers 3-5 (NRR: 0.304)
The run home
January 18: v Hurricanes at Optus Stadium
January 24: v Thunder at Optus Stadium
January 28: v Renegades at Optus Stadium
February 1: v Heat at The Gabba
February 3: v Stars at Optus Stadium
February 9: v Strikers at Traeger Park, Alice Springs