Sydney Sixers star Steve OKeefe says fifth place shouldn’t be good enough to make it to the Big Bash final and suggests the format is designed to produce more games.
OKeefe Sixers sit on top of the BBL table, prior to their showdown with the Perth Scorchers at Canberras Manuka Oval on Saturday night.
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Leading up to the clash with the team currently holding third place on the ladder, O’Keefe suggested that the current final format was purely a money waster.
The BBL brought in a five-team final run this year, with the competition previously comprising only four of the eight teams on the business side of the tournament.
The Sydney Thunder – which hit a purple form last season and then just missed fifth place for the final – is a good example of the benefits of the current final format.
With only three parties to miss the final action, OKeefe will not be sold on the format.
“What I don’t agree with is that fifth place can make it to the final,” he said.
“I think this was only done to produce more cricket games.
“You saw the Thunder finish fifth last year and close to the final, and I think that gives you a good indication of where the teams are and where they can win the tournament.
“Better to finish first and second.”
The Sixers may consolidate their spot at the top of the table against the Scorchers on Saturday night, but OKeefe brushed aside suggestions that the title will go to one of those teams or the second-placed Thunder.
“I think it’s a lot closer than that,” he said.
“Anyone, one to six, can win.”
Sixers with the aim of strengthening the top position
The Sixers have proven themselves as the BBL’s ultimate road warriors, leading the ladder despite taking the toughest hand from COVID-19.
The Sixers’ victory over the Thunder on Wednesday night left them six points clear at the top, despite not playing games at home this summer.
It’s enough to make you think the old home edge is dead until you look at the rest of the league just past two-thirds of the way into the league.
Of the 22 games played by teams in their home state so far this season, the hosts have won 15.
Nowhere has that been more evident than for the Perth Scorchers, who only won one of five on the road, compared to four straights at Optus Stadium.
All of which makes the Sixers’ record even more impressive, with mind games within the squad convincing their players that the time is gone can be positive.
“We have always loved playing outdoors as a group,” said wicket-keeper-batsman Josh Philippe.
“The conditions are a bit different and it has had its challenges. But we have always loved to play away.
“So we entered the season knowing we won’t be home very often.
“We just really got together as a group. We spend a lot of time together and really try to keep everyone going.
“And keep telling each other that we like to play away. So that’s probably been most of it.”
It comes after the Sixers dropped just one game at the SCG last year and claimed victory there.
With games moved as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney, their draw now sees the Sixers playing in every state except their own.
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