The battle between the competition’s leading wicket-taker Jhye Richardson and second top run-scorer Josh Philippe will go a significant way to deciding Saturday night’s qualifying final at Manuka Oval.
The Scorchers and Sixers have split the honours in their two outings this season. The WA cricketers are well aware the duel against state teammate Josh Philippe looms as the key sub-plot.
In their first clash of BBL10 at Optus Stadium, Philippe was caught at first slip for just five runs, with the Scorchers charging to victory by 86 runs.
In their most recent outing at Manuka Oval – the venue of Saturday’s final – Philippe blitzed a 52-ball 84 in a player of the match display as he lead his team to a seven-wicket win.
“We’re all pretty good mates but once we cross that line it’s a grudge match,” Philippe said on The Fast and The Curious podcast.
“As much as they want me to do well, they don’t want me to do well against them and I really want to get runs and win the game against them.
“They’re always a tough team to beat and they’ve got a great list this year, they’ve had a great season. It’ll be a really tough contest and fingers crossed we can get over the line.”
Richardson, who was yesterday named in the team of the tournament alongside teammate Colin Munro and Philippe, said the Scorchers know the enormity of Philippe’s wicket.
“We saw last time we versed them at Manuka – at the oval we’re going to verse them again – we probably didn’t take the wickets as early as we would’ve liked,” he said.
“Josh Philippe got away from us a little bit and we know obviously how good he is. If he gets away from us, we’re in a little bit of strife. Wickets early is going to be key for us.”
Meanwhile, Richardson believes the decision to send him to New Zealand for Twenty20s over the Test tour of South Africa isn’t a snub and absolutely ‘makes sense’.
The whippy right-armer earned his national call-up following a prolific Big Bash campaign that has so far yielded 27 wickets at 13, with at least two matches to go.
Richardson underwent major shoulder surgery just nine months ago and is yet to prove his ability to bowl more than four overs in a match, making the selection call a no-brainer.
“For me it makes sense, there’s no questions there about that decision,” the 24-year-old said.
“Dealing with such a long injury and such a long recovery time and not having an opportunity to really test it in the longer format just yet, it makes sense.”
“It is a big jump (from T20 to Tests), from bowling four overs to potentially 20 or 25 in a day.
“That’s a pretty big jump and (is) something I haven’t really tested out just yet.”
Richardson remains eager to add to his two-Test career by pressing his red ball claims in the Sheffield Shield following his return from New Zealand in March.
The pace ace missed Australia’s last Ashes series in 2019 due to his shoulder injury and is determined to feature in the home series against the arch-rivals next summer.
“Test cricket’s always the pinnacle of playing for your country, it’s still on the horizon hopefully and it’s something I’m still aspiring for,” he said.
“My two Test matches a couple of years ago were one of the best moments in my life.
“To be able to get back and play Test cricket would be fantastic but if my focus shifts too quickly onto something like that, I may lose focus on what’s really important at the moment which is putting performances on the board for the Scorchers and hopefully getting a final.”