We’ll keep it short and sweet this time – it’s only been a couple of days since the end of round four and we’re already into the sixth round of games (look out for a Luke Wright special in a few days). Plus Two And A Half Men – Australia’s favourite sitcom no less, just ahead of Mike And Molly – is on, so we’d quite like to go to bed.
In the opening game of the round Brisbane Heat beat the Hobart Hurricanes in something of a minor classic. The Heat racked up 203, with Matthew Hayden making 76 while the rest of the side batted sensibly around him. In reply Hobart very nearly chased it down, falling just short when Owais Shah, needing a boundary from the final ball, was caught at long on for 69. When he was in England colours Shah was the source of much merriment, spasming at the crease like Thom Yorke on stage, but this was another very good and (nearly) well-judged innings. His main support came from Travis Birt (74 from 36 balls) but he also fell in the last over.
After that came two local derbies, starting with Melbourne Stars vs Melbourne Renegades. Sadly, the rain also came, with Duckworth-Lewis being brought out to decide a match (in favour of the ‘home’ side) that was just poised to get interesting. The Stars made 167, led by 51 from the less-annoying Hussey. In reply the Renegades lost three wickets fairly cheaply, just as the rain came and that was that.
A similar story the following night with Sydney Sixers struggling to 117/7 from their 16 overs, led by 3 from Steve Smith. In reply the Thunder’s top order was blown away by two excellent spells from Brett Lee and Mitchell Starc. At 29/4 the rain came and the game was done, with Duckworth-Lewis apparently not able to compensate for the Khawaja factor, the great man lurking on 11* like a cobra poised to strike.
Finally, attention turned to the distinctly un-rainy (and also distinctly sold out) WACA, where Perth Scorchers got off to a flyer, led by Herschelle Gibbs (65) and Ashes star Marcus North (70), and backed up by an enterprising cameo from Paul Collingwood. The ginger legend’s 18 from 7 balls included two sixes, as well as a comedy four, the fielder (whose name we’ve completely forgotten) managing to slide, field the ball, roll and throw it over the boundary in one elegant motion.
In pursuit of 184, the Adelaide Stinkers also got off to a good start but were pegged back by four excellent overs from 87 year old Brad Hogg. The left-arm wrist spinner picked up three wickets, plus a semi-deliberate run out from a straight drive, to rip the heart out of the Stinkers’ response.
And so, after four weeks of largely talking about chicken we’re actually going to ask a serious question: is T20 cricket producing a generation of purely ‘defensive’ spinners? In this tournament it’s been the older, more mysterious spinners that have actually prospered (we’re talking Warne, MacGill and Hogg, rather than Bryce McGain) while the younger generation have largely been keeping it tight. For four overs it might not make that much of a difference but in Test cricket it clearly does. What hopes for a new Warne when he’s unlikely to get a game ahead of left arm filthers such as Xavier Doherty and Michael Beer?
Thinking about it, it’s clear that a whole generation of cricketers around the world have grown up wishing that they were Ashley Giles. Which makes us proud. And a little sad.