Sydney Thunder coach Shane Bond said while his team have been forced to take the “long path” to qualify for the BBL|09 decider, he’s adamant the squad has the talent - and toughness - that’s needed to complete the journey.
Thunder qualified for Thursday night’s elimination final against the Hobart Hurricanes at Blundstone Arena after the Melbourne Renegades prevented Brisbane Heat from leap-frogging their way into fifth position by beating them on Monday.
If Thunder defeats the Hurricanes they’ll progress to The Knockout stage against the Strikers in Adelaide on Saturday. Bond said his team had already proven during the season that they have it in them to win big games.
“While we needed a result to go our way to qualify for the finals it always felt as though we should be there,” said Bond.
“It’s nice to be here, even though we need to take a long path to win the tournament. However, every other team we’ll play against is in the same position, so it’s equal pressure. But we’ve proven we can do it... we defeated Hobart this year, we’ve beaten Adelaide and we beat the Sixers.”
While Bond didn’t deny he would’ve preferred to have finished in the BBL’s top three, he said playing in Hobart - and hopefully Adelaide - had its advantages.
“Hobart - and Adelaide for that matter - is a great venue with good wickets. You also get a bit of a break ahead of The Challenger [match],” he said. “If you qualify for the decider you could also carry your form into The Final.
“The reality, though, is it is one game at a time. Something we do know is you only need for one person to peak in the finals for the team to do well.”
While Daniel Sams will wear the BKT Golden Arm cap into the final as the BBL’s leading wicket taker after taking a tournament record 25, Alex Hales holds equal second place as the competition’s top run-scorer with 449.
“All we need is someone to have a stand-out finish to the season over the next week-and-a-half,” said Bond.
Meanwhile, pace bowler Brendan Doggett has been drafted into Thunder’s 13-man squad at Gurinder Sandhu's expense.
Thunder squad vs Hobart Hurricanes on Thursday 30 January
Callum Ferguson (C) (12)
Liam Bowe (27)
Jonathan Cook (50)
Brendan Doggett (35)
Alex Hales (6)
Usman Khawaja (18)
Jay Lenton (70)
Nathan McAndrew (44)
Chris Morris (24)
Arjun Nair (7)
Alex Ross (49)
Daniel Sams (60)
Chris Tremain (20)