A bumper penultimate round of the most electrifying T20 league in Oceania saw the tournament’s finest moment, as Shane Warne actually bothered to go to the trouble of turning up, while everyone continued to prove themselves equally rubbish. As ever, though, while all teams are rubbish, some teams are more rubbish than others. One team, in particular, is quite a lot more rubbish than the rest and they maintained their losing streak to thunderous applause from the 51allout bunker. Thunderous, geddit?
So, the story of round five was that Hobart beat Perth, Melbourne beat Adelaide, Melbourne lost in Brisbane, Perth beat the worst team in the history of anything, Adelaide beat Hobart, Melbourne won the derby and Steve Smith’s Sixers beat Brisbane. Got it? Never mind. Everyone beat everyone and everyone who isn’t Sydney Thunder might qualify. The Melbourne side with no association to Shane Warne is winning the league, although that means absolutely zilch. You’re caught up.
The problem with these tournaments is often that they begin with a bang and then everyone’s bored beyond comprehension by the second week. Even the Big Bash, which is about as short as it’s possible to make a T20 competition without frightening an administrator to death, has struggled to keep anyone’s attention for this long, particularly once most of its mediocre Australians disappeared off on international duty. Fortunately, it cried out for publicity and publicity it received. It was not achieved by a brilliant innings or a blistering bowling display, though Ricky Ponting attempted both, but a fantastically funny falling out between Shane Warne and Marlon Samuels.
There is much to love about this fight, from Samuels’ superbly petty pull back of David Hussey in the first innings which set everything in motion to his stroppy hurl of the bat at the end, yet we can’t help but feel slightly short-changed. The scientists among us were desperate to see Samuels’ bat arc into Warne’s face, just to see what happens when wood meets that level of solid plastic. Which would have triumped? Is Warne’s face destructable? We shall never know. And there isn’t even the possibility of a repeat in the final as Marvellous Marlon has had to scurry home with a broken face after being hit by Lasith Malinga in the same game.
From being an afterthought, the Big Bash is now the hot news story in Australia, leading bulletins across the land ahead of Rolf Harris’ new single and the discovery of electricity. Cameron Boyce and Luke Doran are suddenly househould names, while moves are being made to change the definition of “Thunder” in the dictionary to mean “scaling previously unchartered heights of incompetence” instead. Rumour has it that at least 20 people turned up for the Melbourne Renegades final group game, despite the fact Steve Smith was away on official business and couldn’t be in the opposition side. KFC Big Bash fever is sweeping the nation, and it has nothing to do with how they cook that chicken. This time.