Despite a few pleading emails to the likes of the ECB, our attempts at gaining proper media accreditation thus far have been about as successful as the Sydney Thunder. Thus when it came to getting off our collective arses and actually attending the business end of the Big Bash, we found ourselves having to actually buy tickets. Due to the vast quantities of gin we currently require just to get through the day, our petty cash reserves are at an all time low, thus forcing us to actually use our own money. In conclusion: if you’ve read this far you are legally required to send us some cash to cover not only the tickets, but also the $200 we managed to spend on chicken based snacks. Send your bank details to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Comfortably the best side in the group stages, the Renegades came a cropper in the first semi-final, suffering at the hands of Luke Pommersbach. We’re fairly sure they’re not the first people to suffer that particular fate.
Batting first the Heat racked up an excellent 183/3 thanks to Pommersbach’s unbeaten 112, 33 from Joe Burns and a rapid 20* from Chris Lynn. The Renegades simply hemorrhaged runs all over the shop, with none of the bowlers able to stop the bleeding. Even their trump card, a 65 year old Murali, went at more than eight an over.
Setting off in pursuit of such an imposing target, much depended on the Renegades’ much-hyped opening partnership of Aaron Finch (star of the tournament so far) and Alex Hales (literally the greatest thing to arrive in Australia since the internet in 2009). Unfortunately both batsmen made starts before getting out, setting the tone for the remainder of the innings. Seven batsmen made double figures but only one made it past 25 as they finished on 168/9, 15 runs short.
The result confirmed the Heat’s place in the next Champions League in India. Luke Pommersbach might want to start applying for his visa quite soon.
If the first semi-final was entertaining enough, the second game was genuinely batshit mental. As well as Duckworth/Lewis shenanigans, there were false captains, sixes galore, a no-ball from the final delivery of the match and a hide-and-seek performance from the absolute top drawer by Shane Warne.
Starting at the beginning, the Stars innings consisted mainly of balls flying into the crowd, threatening those members of the audience who were too busy chatting up the girl in the next seat to concentrate on the match. Cameron White smashed 88 from 53 balls and Brad Hodge 70 from 43 as the visitors finished on 183/2 from just 18 overs, the other two being lost to rain. Local hero, octogenarian Brad Hogg, was treated particularly harshly, his three overs going for 44.
The Scorcher’s response was shortened to 13 overs after some more rain, with the target adjusted to 139. After five overs with the score at 38/1 and Hershelle Gibbs also retired hurt it looked like a very lost cause. Enter debutant Alex Keath, still a few days short of this 20th birthday, for his first over in T20 cricket. Six balls and 27 runs to Shaun Marsh later and it was very much game on.
Marsh eventually fell for 68 from 40 balls, leaving Adam Voges and Mike Hussey to try and take the Scorchers home. 40 runs from four overs became 32 from three, 20 from two and finally ten from one, to be bowled by ‘captain’ James Faulkner. And what a last over it was.
The first ball was pulled to deep square leg by Mike Hussey where Jackson Bird shelled the catch. Three balls later wicketkeeper Peter Handscomb messed up a straightforward run out chance, dropping the ball before breaking the stumps. It came down to the very last ball with three required to win, or two for the super over. Cue chaos.
Faulkner bowled a very full delivery wide of off-stump that Voges couldn’t get any bat on. He and Hussey scampered through for a bye, resigned to defeat. The ground was hushed before suddenly everyone realised that Faulkner had overstepped for a no-ball. To add to the chaos, had he not overstepped, there were only three fielders in the ring anyway. With just one run needed from a free hit Mike Hussey obliged, smashing it over the infield for a boundary to spark wild celebrations.
The recriminations began almost immediately; Warne, who didn’t feel the need to bowl himself at any point, was charged by Cricket Australia under a specific rule brought in to stop exactly what the Stars did (officially naming someone else as captain to try and get around previous warnings for a slow over rate). Worse than that, he received a right load of abuse from pretty much the entire 51allout bunker. As if to remind everyone of what Warne has brought to the Big Bash, Liz Hurley, returning Warne’s waxwork to Madame Tussauds the next day, told a reporter at Perth Airport to fuck off before looking incredibly proud of herself.
Rather like last year, the Big Bash final was again a bit of a damp squib with the home side making a right mess of chasing the Heat’s 167/5, a score that was probably par but certainly nothing more. It was a strange sort of game, with no batsman making it to 50; man of the match was actually Ashes star Nathan Hauritz, partly for three tidy overs (0/11) but mainly for taking three excellent catches in the outfield. Unfortunately he blotted his copybook somewhat by refusing to answer our perfectly fair questions about him refusing to be picked for the Oval Test in 2009.
Despite never really catching fire, the Heat’s innings was built around 43 from Joe Burns and 37 from both Dan Christian and a surprisingly restrained Luke Pommersbach. In reply Adam Voges made 49 but no-one else made 25, wickets tumbling regularly until the Scorchers finished well short on 133/9, 34 runs short. We’ll be honest, by the time the last rites had been applied we were already well on the way to the pub.
So how did the second season of the Big Bash turn out? For the most part it was pretty decent, with a few memorable innings but few classic matches until that second semi-final. We’ll have a much more detailed look tomorrow when our resident Aussie will reveal his KFC Big Bash report card. Plus we won’t ask you to pay for that article. What more could you want?