Stand-in captain Chris Rogers has declared the Sydney Thunder are ready to take on the world champion Sixers in Saturday night’s Big Bash League opener after a 34-run victory over the Wollongong Invitational XI last night.
Rogers was part of a vital opening partnership with Kiwi batsman Martin Guptill which paved the way at North Dalton Park.
The Thunder were tested by the Invitational team, comprising mostly Sydney grade cricketers, with Simon Keen leading the way and Keira and NSW Country captain Graeme Batty providing valuable assistance.
Rogers said the Thunder got just the hitout needed for the upcoming series.
"It was a good test, we got challenged quite well," he said.
‘‘But we stood up when we needed to and there were a good couple of performances within our team.
‘‘Ideally we would have a bit more time together, but tonight was excellent.
‘‘There were a lot of key players who got some time out there, so I’ll think we’ll be ready on Saturday.’’
Thunder squad member Rhett Lockyear, whose parents live in the Illawarra, top scored for the lime green outfit with an unbeaten 55.
‘‘He was excellent,’’ Rogers said.
‘‘We know what Guptill is like and Rhett has the potential for that.
‘‘Keen played beautifully and they were in the hunt, we were under pressure, because you don’t want to come here and lose.’’
It was New Zealand international Guptill who ignited the Thunder’s innings, blasting 47 off 44 balls.
Leading the way as captain, Rogers – with Michael Clarke resting with a back complaint before the start of the Sri Lankan Test series in Hobart and Usman Khawaja leading the Chairman’s XI team to play the international tourists in Canberra starting today – lit the fuse with an explosive six off Shane Mott.
Rogers finished with 23, before being caught leg before off the bowling of Josh Clarke.
Guptill, who averages 34.22 with a strike rate of more than 128, set the platform, before being bowled by Chris Tremain, a quick on the rise following a stunning Sydney grade cricket season for University of NSW which produced 40 wickets at 21.9.
Rhett Lockyear, who last year played for the Hobart Hurricanes, and Ryan Carters, the batsman-wicketkeeper from Victoria, then set the Thunder on course for a competitive total, blasting a 68 run partnership, their 50-run stand coming off 35 balls.
Lockyear was dropped on the boundary by NSW Country captain Graeme Batty at the end of a 16-run 17th over.
He went on to smack 50 off 25 deliveries, finishing 55 not out as the Big Bash League outfit set 5-176.
In reply, the Invitational XI made a terrible start, with David Dawson trapped in front from the first ball of the innings off Luke Doran.
However, Simon Keen hit back for the Wollongong outfit, smacking two sixes as they were 2-69 after 10 overs.
Keen finished with 86, before driving to long off, where he was caught by Guptill off Sean Abbott.
Batty finished nine not out.
SYDNEY THUNDER v WOLLONGONG INVITATIONAL XI
At North Dalton Park
M GUPTILL b Tremain 47
C ROGERS lbw Clarke 23
M COSGROVE b S Keen 1
C BORGAS c Rodgie b Tremain 11
R LOCKYEAR not out 55
R CARTERS c and b J Kennedy 25
S ABBOTT not out 10
Sundries (1lb, 1nb, 2) 4
TOTAL 5 (cc) for 176
Fall: 49, 53, 81, 85, 153.
Bowling: J Clarke 3-0-15-1, S Mott 3-0-23-0, C Tremain 4-0-27-2, J Kennedy 2-0-28-1, S Keen 3-0-25-1, A Coyte 4-0-47-0, S Rodgie 1-0-10-0.
D DAWSON lbw Doran 0
T CRUICKSHANK c Guptill b Abbott 11
S KEEN c Guptill b Abbott 86
A COYTE c Carters b Nannes 27
G BATTY not out 9
P JAQUES c b Nannes 6
S RODGIE not out 0
Sundries: (3w) 3
TOTAL: 5 (cc) for 142
Fall: 0, 22, 101, 132, 142.
Bowling: L Doran 3-0-10-1, D Nannes 4-0-22-2, G Sandhu 4-0-30, S Abbott 4-0-37-2, A Zampa 3-0-29-0, B Lockyear 2-0-14-0.
Sydney Thunder won by 34 runs