The Perth Scorchers brought down the curtain on their glorious spell at the WACA in style as they clinched the minor premier title with a thrilling victory over Adelaide.
They are now moving to the Optus Stadium ahead of Thursday’s semi-final showdown with the Hobart Hurricanes, but they will look back fondly on their time at this iconic arena. Their four-wicket victory in a top of the table clash against the Strikers was the perfect send-off to a stadium that has seen unprecedented success.
It meant the Scorchers topped the BBL ladder for the third time in seven seasons, and they have never finished outside the top three. They have won three of the six Finals so far, finished runner-up twice and taken third place the other time, in 2016, and they are the team to beat heading into this year’s Finals. They are the dominant force since the Big Bash began in 2011-12 and seem to get better all the time, but what are the secrets to their success so far this season?
A winning mentality
The Scorchers’ squad has changed considerably from the one topped the ladder in the inaugural BBL season, but they keep on winning. There has been great continuity from season to season, and the team has evolved slowly, without any drastic overhauls. That allows young players to come into a team packed full of experienced winners, which gives them confidence.
A few years later they are the experienced heads, guiding the new crop to further success. Winning becomes infectious, as opener Cameron Bancroft explains: “You learn how to win, you learn how to perform in big moments in games and that’s why we’ve been successful.” In the big moments, these players have the experience that allows them to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat and that is crucial.
The team has been hit with a raft of selection headaches this year: Bancroft and Shaun Marsh were long-term absentees as they were representing Australia in the Ashes, Andrew Tye and Jhye Richardson were called up for the ODI series against England, Mitchell Marsh was away at both series, Michael Klinger missed a match with personal issues, Adam Voges was suspended, David Willey went to the England ODI team. But each time they rolled with the punches and found a way to win.
It is remarkable to look at the player stats for the BBL season and note that there are no Scorchers players in the top 10 for run scoring, wicket-taking, bowling efficiency, fours, sixes or strike rate, yet they still topped the ladder. Rather than complaining, they were resourceful and everyone that came in delivered, and that will serve them well in the Finals. In the Big Bash odds they are now favourites to win a fourth trophy in five years and deservedly so.
No knobs in our organisation
A huge dollop of credit must go to coach Justin Langer, who has a book called The No Asshole Rule placed strategically in the centre of his desk. He tells reporters that it serves as a reminder that “we don’t want knobs in our organisation”. Langer has worked hard to create a strong, united dressing room, ensuring that bad seeds are given no place to flourish, and that has helped him build several successful teams. The individuals come and go, but a collective philosophy prevails – strong, loyal characters with integrity and mental toughness fighting for one another – and that is the main secret behind their success.
Adam Voges’ leadership
Langer is a great leader on the sidelines, while on the pitch Voges’ leadership is outstanding. The evergreen star is highly regarded and well-liked by his teammates, and he leads with both willow and words. He is a strong influence on the younger players, and he is also a phenomenal batsman, as he proved by bowing out of the international game with the second best test average of all-time, behind only Don Bradman. He has always been a devastating weapon in ODIs too and has been at the Scorchers for all but their first season, proving the perfect lieutenant for Langer in the big games.
Defending low totals
The Scorchers’ success over the years has been built on their uncanny ability to defend low totals thanks to the superb array of quicks in their ranks. That should serve them well going into the semi-finals, but they have also enjoyed some thumping victories so far this season: six-wicket wins over Sydney Sixers, a five-wicket win over the Hurricanes, a six-wicket win over the Strikers. That leaves them in ominous form heading into the business end of the season and their opponents should be very afraid.