The Sydney Sixers have begun preparations for the upcoming BBL where they will be aiming to improve on their disastrous 2015 campaign which saw them win just two games from eight.
They are currently riding a five-match losing streak and will be hopeful that a new season brings better fortune to a side that made the finals in two of the previous three seasons.
The Sixers campaign starts off with a blockbuster clash against cross town rivals the Sydney Thunder on the 20 December at Spotless Stadium. Having been humbled by the Thunder on two occasions last season the boys in magenta will be eager to hit the ground running and start the season off with a win. It won’t be easy against the reigning champion Thunder who will be doing their best to go for back to back BBL titles in the summer.
After a disappointing 2015-2016 season, Sixers brass went after aggressive and talented stroke makers and found two players that fit that mould perfectly in English duo Jason Roy and Sam Billings.
Roy will appear in the first five matches before being replaced by fellow countryman and Sixers fan favourite Michael Lumb in the last three matches.
Roy’s big hitting ability and superb running between the wickets saw him earmarked by England as a future international and those thoughts were realised with selection in both the ODI and T20 sides in 2014 and 2015 respectively.
With over 3,000 T20 runs at a strike rate of close to 145, Roy could endear himself to the Sixers faithful especially if he can clear the boundary regularly like he has done with both Surrey and England in recent seasons.
Team mate Sam Billings is equally exciting as Roy, although a tad less experienced.
Still only 25, Billings is seen as a future test wicket keeper for the England national side after a string of impressive performances for County side Kent.
He has already represented the three lions in 6 ODI’s and 7 T20I’s in the last two seasons.
Playing with the Sixers as a specialist batsman that has a strike rate of 120 in T20 cricket, Billings brings an expansive, inventive and exciting style to the magenta boys. For those impatient Sixers fans that can’t wait to see Billings play we advise you to check out his 52 against Pakistan in 2015, where he brought up his half ton in just 24 balls with some imaginative ramp shots the picks of the bunch.
Home is where the heart is
Not to be forgotten are a bunch of home-grown talent that have been mainstays of the Sydney Sixers set up for the past the few seasons.
Leading that charge is Malaysian-born now Northern Beaches local Steve O’Keefe.
Known to team mates affectionately as SOK, O’Keefe has loads of experience at Test, One Day and T20 level having represented Australia in both Test and T20I.
His left arm finger spin and capable lower order batting is invaluable to the Sixers BBL 06 hopes.
SOK had three wickets for the Sixers in BBL 05 with a brilliant economy rate of just 5.12, again showcasing his talent with the white ball.
At 31, SOK is also a leader in the dressing room and his experience will be invaluable to the Sixers this summer.
With Johan Botha becoming an Australian citizen just a few weeks ago he is now classed as an Australian player. This has opened up opportunities for the Sixers to sign the above mentioned Billings and Roy as international players.
Botha’s aggressive batting will be a huge asset to Sydney this campaign as evident by his phenomenal 102 not out from just 47 balls in the most recent round of the Kingsgrove Sports T20 Cup for Mosman.
Botha also starred with the ball by collecting 5-12 including a hat trick!
The multi-talented Botha will be one to watch for the Sixers over the summer, if he can come close to replicating the above form then there will be cause for celebration in the Harbour city.
Joining him is Sydney Sixers captain Moses Henriques who will be hoping to make impression with both bat and ball.
Boasting more than 2000 runs and 100 wickets at T20 level, Moises performances will go a long way to the Sixers having success. His captaincy and field placements against some of the most explosive batsmen in Australia and the World will be equally as important.
In just three matches last year, Henriques showed his class by scoring 114 runs @57 with a highest score of 62.
The Sixers first home game of the season is against the Hobart Hurricanes on 23 December at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
For match day information and all of the latest news, videos and photos on everything Sydney Sixers visit sydneysixers.com.au