The seven members of Thursday’s Hobart Hurricanes squad that played in last season’s Big Bash League semi-final will need no telling that being minor premier is little guarantee of graduating to the major prize.
Much like Adam Griffith’s men this season, Justin Langer’s Perth Scorchers had dominated the regular season, rightly earning a home semi-final in front of a packed house of 52,960 at the stunning Optus Oval.
But within three hours the Hurricanes had delivered the biggest upset in BBL history, destroying the three-time champions by the width of the Nullabor Plain (which 71 runs is in Twenty20 terms).
It was the same story in 2014 when an undefeated Stars outfit including current skipper Glenn Maxwell stormed to a home semi-final only to be bundled out in a seven-wicket MCG loss to a Hurricanes outfit that had limped into the final four.
After 56 games in a regular season which began when Australian banks were trusted commodities, both teams enter this match feeling they are overdue a BBL title.
The Stars have been in every BBL semi-final except for last season (when they finished last) but only once made the grand final (BBL05) while the Hurricanes were losing semi-finalists in the inaugural season and twice lost finals (2014 and ’18).
Opposing captains Matthew Wade and Maxwell are on a high with points to prove. Both were recognised at the Australian Cricket Awards on Monday where Maxwell was named international male Twenty20 cricketer of the year and Wade domestic player of the year.
Player of the match in that semi last year, Wade and last season’s player of the tournament D’Arcy Short have dominated this season’s stats, combing for eight 50-plus partnerships plus two in excess of 100 and topping the individual run-scoring with 590 and 602 respectively.
While the Hurricanes also have Riley Meredith, James Faulkner and Jofra Archer among the top-10 wicket-takers, the Stars’ only presence in either table is Marcus Stoinis who sits third (476) among the run-scorers.
Faulkner returns (for Tom Rogers) after missing two games with a knee injury, the presence of Tasmanian Tigers favourites Jackson Bird and Ben Dunk should add plenty of spice while Clive Rose and Caleb Jewell loom as the most romantic selections for Valentine’s Day.
The Hurricanes are unbeaten at Bellerive this season with their only home loss coming in Launceston.
Second-placed Melbourne Renegades finished two wins behind Hobart and host the Sydney Sixers in the other semi-final at 7.40pm on Friday with the final scheduled for 2.45pm on Sunday afternoon.