There’s just three matches of the 2022/23 BBL regular season left, but the playoff positions are far from settled and only Melbourne Stars are out of the running. Perth Scorchers and Sydney Sixers continue to keep the competition at arm’s length, while the streaking Brisbane Heat have stormed into contention.

Heat catch fire in remarkable revival

Brisbane Heat have spent most of BBL|12 propping up the ladder and sitting near the bottom of title odds, picking just two wins and a no result from their first nine fixtures.

But it’s all about timing – and the Queenslanders are one of only three teams to seal their spot in the playoffs with one round remaining thanks to a sizzling four-match winning streak.

The Heat surged into third place with a pair of nail-biting victories in the space of three days last week. Matt Renshaw (41 off 31) continued his strong form with the bat, but Michael Neser (3/27) was player of the match in a clutch 12-run home defeat of the Hurricanes.

On Sunday, Sam Hain (73* off 41) and Jimmy Peirson (57* off 43) put on an unbeaten 133-run partnership to lead the Heat to 4/188 against the cellar-dwelling Stars. Mitchell Swepson (2/23) bowled superbly, while Spencer Johnson held his nerve in the final over as they eked out a four-run win at The Gabba.

The Usman Khawaja-led Heat still have plenty to play for in their last game against the Hurricanes in Launceston on Wednesday. Another win will lock up third place and home-ground advantage for The Eliminator – and Brisbane are 4-1 at The Gabba this summer.

‘Smudge’ emerges as Scorchers’ biggest threat

The Big Bash League Final combatants of the past two seasons, Perth Scorchers and Sydney Sixers have streeted the field in taking out the top two spots on the ladder. The 11-3 Scorchers edged the 10-3-1 Sixers for home advantage in Saturday’s qualifier; the 6-6-1 Heat are the only other team still in the running to finish the regular season with a winning record.

And while the defending champion Scorchers ($2.00) have their noses in front of the Sixers ($2.40) in BBL title odds, one superstar looms as the make-or-break player who can return the trophy to Sydney.

Steve Smith was controversially benched during Australia’s dismal title defence during the recent T20 World Cup on home soil. The Test batsman nonpareil has made a mockery of selectors’ estimation of his limited-overs value since returning to Big Bash duty with the Sixers, however, plundering 328 runs in four innings over nine days.

Returning with 36 off 27 against the Scorchers, ‘Smudge’ then blasted a maiden century against the Strikers (101 off 56) and backed that up with another ton – the fifth-highest individual score in BBL history – in a 125-run annihilation of the Thunder (125* off 66).

Smith made it three straight player of the match awards on Monday night as he racked up 66 off just 33 balls as the Sixers finished the regular season on a six-match unbeaten run via a 24-run defeat of the Hurricanes in Hobart. His season average is a hefty 109.33; no player in the league with more than 120 runs has an average over 50.

The Scorchers rounded out the regular season with victories over the Strikers (seven wickets) and Renegades (10 runs)…but they will be looking to Cameron Bancroft – who blazed an unbeaten 95 off 50 balls at the ’Gades’ expense – and the likes of Aaron Hardie and Josh Inglis to help counter the irresistible form of Smith in Saturday’s barnburner.

Crunch time for mid-table rivals

Buckle up for the last two days of the BBL|12 regular season as four teams strive to cram into two available playoff spots. Each of the hopefuls come into their last crunch game in dusty form.

The fourth-placed Melbourne Renegades (12 points) have lost their last two convincingly; they host the sixth-placed Strikers (10 points), who are on a four-game slide. It’s do or die for Adelaide Strikers, while the ‘Gades could still squeak through if they lose.

Wednesday’s double-header kicks off with the seventh-placed Hobart Hurricanes (10 points) hosting the in-form Heat, who are already through but could slip from third to fifth so won’t be phoning it in. The ‘Canes have lost their last two games.

The fifth-placed Sydney Thunder (12 points) have the benefit of playing wooden-spooners Melbourne Stars on Wednesday night – and they’ll know before the game gets underway whether they have to win to get into the playoffs, or potentially jump as high as third spot.

BBL Title Odds

The Scorchers and Sixers continue to shorten in BBL|12 title odds, while the Heat have made up huge ground as the only other team to seal their place in the playoffs. The Hurricanes and the Strikers are the biggest sliders in a disastrous week for the franchises, while the Renegades’ and Thunder’s odds also eased out ahead of must-win final matches.

BBL 2022/23 Odds

TEAMWEEK 5 PRICEWEEK 6 PRICE
Perth Scorchers$2.40$2.00
Sydney Sixers$2.90$2.40
Brisbane Heat $26$9.00
Melbourne Renegades$10$18
Sydney Thunder$18$21
Hobart Hurricanes $5.50$26
Adelaide Strikers$11$34
Melbourne StarsN/AN/A

The Week Ahead

Tue 24th JanRenegades v Strikers
Wed 25th JanHurricanes v Heat & Stars v Thunder

Fri 27th Jan The Eliminator (4th v 5th)
Sat 28th JanThe Qualifier (1st v 2nd – Scorhcers v Sixers)
Sun 29th JanThe Knockout (3rd v winner of The Eliminator)

BET ON BBL FUTURES HERE: