In the eyes of promoters the Big Bash is akin to a juggernaut, in that once unleashed it’s impossible to constrain. Instead it’s more like a fat man barrelling towards a bucket of fried chicken. It’s not that you can’t stop him, it’s just that it really isn’t worth the effort and probably better to just look away from the resulting mess. Whatever the case, Big Bash games are now coming thick and fast, like said bucket of chicken a few hours after consumption. The next greasy group of games began, appropriately enough, in a land where fried chicken is perhaps praised more highly than any other.
What an utter pile of shit this game was. Seriously, it may have been the worst game of cricket ever played. There has been quite a bit of talk about the rabble the Scorchers represent this campaign, as opposed to the professional unit that romped to last season’s final, and they did nothing to prove their detractors wrong here, being dismissed for just 69. Lasith Malinga was the destroyer, taking 6/7 off his four overs. He wasn’t even bowling especially fast or well, he just ambled in and the Perth batsmen obliged in throwing their wickets away.
In return the Stars eased towards the total on the back of the usual Luke Wright fireworks. A rare Perth downpour threatened to end the game prematurely, forcing everyone to sit around long enough so enough overs could be bowled for the game to register as ‘official’, but everyone had long since given up caring.
This, by comparison, was perhaps one of the greatest games of cricket every played, being won by the Heat via a four hit from the last ball of the game. The Strikers amassed 185 in their innings, being ably led by Callum Ferguson (52), who once again is doing an admirable job of looking a decent cricketer just in time for the next IPL auction, and Kieron Pollard (48), about whom we will say absolutely nothing.
That total looked beyond the Heat, even with Saeed Ajmal and Nathan Lyon missing for the hosts, but after a slow start Luke Pomersbach (65), and Joe Burns (37) got them close, before Chris Hartley got them over the line off the final ball. Said final ball was a confused affair, the Heat scampering three to apparently tie before the third umpire ruled that the ball had actually touched the rope, thus denying the crowd the spectacle of a KFC Fast Food Pig Out or however they are deciding tied games in this year’s competition.
What do you do with a team that is a) playing like shit, b) supported by nobody, and c) at each other’s throats? Why you make them play on a terrible dropped in pitch in the biggest stadium in the land so everyone can get a good laugh at their expense of course. That’s exactly what happened to the Thunder here as they were massacred by the Renegades.
The arrival of Chris Gayle proved a damp squib as he was run-out for just 12, and from there the Thunder decided they couldn’t really be bothered, being routed for 116, with only the tail offering any resistance at all. In return the Thunder romped to victory, scarcely getting out of second gear, and the few people who bothered to turn up in the first place had left long before they finally got over the line in the penultimate over.
Owing to the ‘eccentricities’ of the Big Bash schedule, the Stars had to back up a few days after their game against the Scorchers, with another against one of last season’s surprise packages. The Hurricanes had Ricky Ponting in their ranks, but he was obviously still getting over the emotion of the Punter Parade the day before, and fell for just 8. Instead the Hurricanes had Tim ‘Iron Man’ Paine (46) and George ‘Captain Fantastic’ Bailey to thank for reaching 134. Owais Shah responded to our bigging him in up in the latest podcast with a conspicuous failure, scoring just 1.
In reply the Stars did everything the could to lose the match, throwing away wickets regularly, including Luke Wright, also for 1. In the end they were able to fall over the line, six wickets down, in the final over. Bailey, however, showed that he had learnt something from the recent T20 World Cup by bowling Xavier Doherty as little as possible, and especially keeping him well away from the ball during the final overs. Smart man.
This game saw the Sixers, who had won 12 games in a row, meet the Scorchers, who are utter crap. So it was no surprise when the Sixers fell early in their innings to 28/6. Oh. From there the Sixers recovered to 113, mostly thanks to Steve O’Keefe, Brett Lee, and some truly appalling catching from the Scorchers. The Sixers had no real excuses though, as they just batted like crap. We have to admit even Steve Smith did, no matter how much it hurts us to admit it.
In reply the Scorchers were never really troubled, despite the fact that hilariously none of their batsmen could pick either Sunil Narine or Jeevan Mendis. The Sixers were uncharacteristically also utter rubbish in the field, shelling numerous catches throughout, which led to the Scorchers romping to a massive victory that we are in no way bitter about at all.
The Big Bash is already little over a quarter of the way through, although owing to the weird schedule some teams have played more than others. So far the quality of cricket on show has actually been pretty good (although the standard of fielding has plumbed IPL levels of awfulness on occasion). The standard of contests provided has been a bit up and down, with some gripping matches intermixed with some absolute rubbish that no quantity of gin will erase from our memories. But you always get that with T20 cricket.
Off the field the big concern, again, has been the appalling crowds for games in both Sydney and Melbourne. Any number of excuses have been used so far, including the distraction of Christmas shopping, but it’s a real worry for Cricket Australia. Otherwise crowds elsewhere and, more importantly, television audiences, have been good.
The promotion of the competition could also do with improving. Hyping up over the hill forty-somethings isn’t going to get anyone other than the extremely gullible excited, especially when they play as hilariously ineptly as Shane Warne and Brad Hogg have managed so far. There are quite a few interesting players going round in the competition who better deserve to be brought further into the public eye. Of course, one Steven Peter Devereux Smith springs to mind.