Sunday, April 21, 2024

Sydney Thunder: Ladder-leading Thunder excited for Western Sydney return

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Thunder name unchanged squad for first fixture at Sydney Showground Stadium

Sydney Thunder coach Shane Bond described the opportunity for his KFC Big Bash League leading team to finally play its first game of the season at Sydney Showground Stadium as “exciting” – but he’s warned there’s challenges the players must overcome as they prepare to take on the star-studded Melbourne Stars tomorrow afternoon.

Sydney Thunder coach Shane Bond described the opportunity for his KFC Big Bash League leading team to finally play its first game of the season at Sydney Showground Stadium as “exciting” – but he’s warned there’s challenges the players must overcome as they prepare to take on the star-studded Melbourne Stars tomorrow afternoon.

Thunder has been on the road for their opening five games of BBL|09, and apart from tremendous wins over pre-season favourites the Brisbane Heat and Melbourne Renegades, they featured in the headline-making abandonment of their home match against the Strikers in Canberra due to smoke from bushfires.

However, the men in lime green’s last two matches – the nail-biting Super Over loss against the Sydney Sixers at the SCG, and their inspiring New Year’s Eve victory over the Strikers in front of a parochial 41,000-strong crowd at Adelaide Oval – have already been acknowledged as BBL classics.

As Bond prepared for his team to open their Sydney Showground Stadium account less than 48-hours after defeating the Strikers by three runs in a thriller that went down to the final delivery, he conceded it was crucial each of his players quickly recharge their energy levels.

“It’ll be nice to play at the Sydney Showground Stadium, and everyone in the team is excited,” he said. “However, it will be a real challenge to back up after the energy – and emotion – of our New Year’s Eve match.

“We fly home today (Wednesday) and then back up for a Thursday afternoon match [which starts at 3.40pm] against a Melbourne Stars team that has match winners and big names throughout their line-up.

“The good thing is this is another game that can gauge where we are in the competition. Since the season started, we’ve believed we’re contenders and have fought hard in some very good, close matches. We’ve worked really hard to get to where we are.”

After player of the match Callum Ferguson (73 off 46 deliveries) and Usman Khawaja (63 off 50) helped to build a strong foundation for Sydney Thunder to perform well against Adelaide, Bond said he was pleased with the way in which his bowling attack performed – despite a rear-guard action by Rashid Khan (40 from 18 deliveries) threatening to steal the points.

“We did a really good job with the ball,” said Bond of his six-pronged attack. “There was a couple of overs where we slipped a little bit… and while we bowled some good balls to him, Rashid played some unbelievable shots, so hats off to him… but the important things is we held our nerve and got over the line.

“We have very different bowlers. Macca [Nathan McAndrew] is bowling fast; Chris [Morris] gets bounce and is obviously a seasoned pro while Dan Sams… who executed perfectly for us again… has a great change of pace. Our spinners – Jono Cook, Chris Green and Arjun Nair – are all very different.

“What we have is six genuine bowlers in our line-up, and that means we don’t need to bowl everyone for four overs.”

Bond described another pleasing aspect of the New Year’s Eve victory was the standard of fielding, saying the hard work Sydney Thunder had invested into that element of the game was paying off.

BBL Squad vs Melbourne Stars on Thursday 2 January

Callum Ferguson (C) (12)

Jonathan Cook (50)  

Brendan Doggett (35)

Matthew Gilkes (22)

Chris Green (93)

Alex Hales (6)

Usman Khawaja (18)

Nathan McAndrew (44)

Chris Morris (24)

Arjun Nair (7)

Alex Ross (49)

Daniel Sams (60)

Chris Tremain (20)

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