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View From Down Under: Sixers tipped to win Big Bash League opener in Sydney derby

Summer is well and truly upon us and the warm December nights will once again welcome Twenty20 cricket with the Big Bash League season set to kick off next week.

With the defending champion Perth Scorchers sitting out the first round, BBL|07 gets underway Tuesday with a Sydney derby between last season’s runner-up the Sixers taking on the Thunder.

The Thunder faced big holes in the lineup with the departure of West Indian all-rounder Andre Russell and English batsman Eoin Morgan, while Patrick Cummins and Usman Khawaja should be missing on Ashes duty.

In their place, England batsman Jos Buttler and New Zealand paceman Mitchell McClenaghan and Aussie veteran Callum Ferguson will provide the star power.

The Sixers, meanwhile, will be sweating on the fitness of proven T20 batting captain and T20 batting star Moises Henriques, who smashes a total of more than 600 runs at a strike rate of 130 over the past three seasons.

Sean Abbott has been a consistent source of dismissals for the Sixers with a tally of 20 wickets from 10 games last season.

A stellar effort in the field was not enough to prevent the Thunder suffering a nine-run loss to the Melbourne Stars in a warm-up match this week, as Kevin Pietersen and Marcus Stoinis shone with the bat.

The Sixers are Sportsbet’s slight favorite to open BBL|07 with a win, paying $1.75 (-133) against $2.05 (+105) for the match.

The Brisbane Heat begin their campaign against fellow BBL|06 semifinalist the Melbourne Stars at the Gabba next Wednesday.

The Heat have signed star Pakistani spinners Shadab Khan and Yasir Shah, but local fans will be looking out for local leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson and his much-vaunted Shane Warne-style flipper.

After their dominating effort against the Thunder, the Stars are slight favorites to win in Brisbane at $1.85 (-118) for the victory against $1.95 (-105) for a loss.

Before the BBL|07 launch, cricket fans will be looking for Australia to wrap up The Ashes series in the third, and possibly deciding, Test against England starting Thursday.

England must win at Perth’s WACA ground after Australia took a 2-0 lead in the five-match series after a 10-wicket win in the Brisbane opener and a 120-run victory in the Adelaide day/night match.

England has the players, but not the discipline, this tour and needs to master its off-field indiscretions to get back into the tour.

Australia is understandably the $1.50 (-200) favorite to seal the series win on Monday, with $5 (+400) for England and $5.20 (+420) for a draw.

A-League leaders Sydney FC is riding high after a comprehensive 5-0 win over hometown rivals the Western Sydney Wanderers last week and is tipped to continue its premiership march with a win over Melbourne City on Friday night.

The match is a replay of the Round 1 encounter between the teams, which Sydney won 1-0.

Despite claiming a 1-0 win over the Central Coast Mariners last round, third-placed City is on $5 (+400) to turn the tables on Sydney, with just $1.67 (-149) for the league leaders and $3.60 (+260) for a draw.