Former skipper Marcus North has emerged as the man most likely to open the batting with Shaun Marsh in tonight's Big Bash final against the Brisbane Heat at the WACA Ground.

Marsh has been outstanding this season with 396 runs in eight matches to lead the competition in scoring.

But his regular opening partner, Herschelle Gibbs, will miss tonight's game with a hamstring injury suff- ered in their semifinal win over the Melbourne Stars on Wednesday.

Though Gibbs' scores have been modest, the Scorchers believe his support has been one of the keys to Marsh's outstanding form.

North has made 97 runs in five innings for the Scorchers off 105 balls in the middle order. However, he enjoyed a good Big Bash season as an opener for the Scorchers last year.

The Heat will also make a late call on captain James Hopes, who rates himself a 60-40 chance of returning from a hamstring strain in time. Though his omission would be a blow for the side, Hopes said the return of paceman Ben Cutting, released from the Australian one-day side yesterday, would ease the impact.

Gibbs' place in the XI will be taken by either batsman Marcus Stoinis, who was added to the squad yesterday, or wicket-keeper Tom Triffitt, who was dropped for the semifinal with Mike Hussey taking the gloves.

Captain Simon Katich did not reveal who would open with Marsh.

"It's been huge for us, there's no doubt. The teams who have been successful have generally had good starts in the first six to 10 overs and that's something that we've certainly loved having," he said.

"Those two (Marsh and Gibbs) complemented each other well.

"We'll come up with a combo that we think can complement each other for one game."

Meanwhile, the Heat can put their late-season surge largely down to big-hitting opener Luke Pomersbach.

Brisbane had a 3-4 record but a final-round victory over Hobart and a 15-run semifinal win over the Renegades was enough to make the final.

Axed by the Western Warriors in 2011 for off-field issues, 28-year-old Pomersbach was offered a chance by Brisbane coach Darren Lehmann this season and has made a great impression.

His past two knocks were 82 (42 deliveries) against the Hurricanes and 112 not out (70 balls) against the Renegades.

"We're two teams that started off the competition quite slow but the way we finished, I reckon we're rightfully the two finalists," Hopes said.

"The final should be quite a spectacle with a full house."

Much has been written and said about the effect of the raucous WACA crowd after the Scorchers' last-ball semifinal win.

Hopes said though he was glad to be playing in front of a sell-out WACA Ground crowd, his side would not be intimidated by one of the most vocal supporter groups in Australian domestic cricket.

"Most of our guys have played around the world in front of South African crowds, Indian crowds, it's fine," he said. "You've just got to turn your back on them. You can try to have some fun with them. Guys go about it different ways.

"I'm just happy it's a sell-out and sold out so quick. I think it's great for the competition that we are playing a final in front of a sell-out crowd."

If the Scorchers were to clinch the trophy it would be the first for WA cricket since taking home the ING Cup (50-over) in 2004.

Only Hussey and North remain from that victorious limited-overs side and Katich said although the squad was aware of the State's lack of success, they didn't feel any pressure to win the game for anyone but themselves.

"It has been a long time but at the end of the day it's a different squad to the Warriors," Katich said.

"We've worked hard to get to this stage and there's no doubt that, yes, the guys are very happy achieving that but we want to win a trophy as well.

"These opportunities don't come around that often."

Katich said the squad hadn't talked about their loss in last year's final or their dismal Champions League campaign.

He said those things had been a motivation but it was important now to concentrate on tonight's game and maintain the same preparations they had gone through all season.

"You do everything the same. Nothing changes," he said.

"Try and enjoy the moment and make the most of that moment."

The Western Fury will be attempting to break their trophy duck when they host the NSW Breakers in the women's T20 final at the WACA Ground this afternoon.

The match will be played before the BBL fixture, starting at 12.35pm.


  • ·POMERSBACH HITS BACK * P120

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