Bell and Brezy look to sign off in style in the fi­nal WACA show­down

As an­other Big Bash serv­ing draws to its close, Will Macpher­son looks ahead to Satur­day’s show­don be­tween the Scorchers and the Six­ers

The Cricket Paper - - BIG BASH LEAGUE & OPIN­ION - Team of the tour­na­ment: Finch, McCul­lum (c), Dunk (wk), Lynn, Hodge, Bai­ley, M.Marsh, Ab­bott, John­son, Narine, Swep­son

Bres­nan has bowled can­nily at the death – chang­ing his pace. Can he and Ian Bell in­spire the Scorchers in the fi­nal?

So 34 games and 1,012,458 fans later, we have two teams, and a fi­nal.Well, two teams and two fi­nals, ac­tu­ally. On Satur­day, Perth Scorchers women do bat­tle with Syd­ney Six­ers to be­come the sec­ond club to win the WBBL ti­tle, be­fore the same teams meet in the men’s fi­nal. And so ends a re­mark­able sea­son.

The en­dur­ing crick­et­ing ap­peal of the BBL seems to come from the fact that any­one can beat any­one. With­out egal­i­tar­ian (Cricket Aus­tralia has a ma­jor­ity stake in all teams, in the BBL’s case) sports’ great lev­ellers, like drafts or auc­tions, or even many trades (BBL has seen two ever, and they are not al­lowed dur­ing the sea­son), the com­pe­ti­tion some­how stays close. In the group stages, eight teams played eight games each. All eight lost at least three, but won at least three, too. On the lad­der, four points sep­a­rated top and bot­tom. Be­yond big crowds, lit­tle seemed cer­tain.

One of the fi­nal­ists, Six­ers, per­fectly il­lus­trates this. They have been sub­lime, and ridicu­lous, and pro­duced both in one semi-fi­nal as they re­quired a su­per over to bail them out af­ter a col­lapse of 5-29 against Bren­don McCul­lum’s Bris­bane Heat. Ten days ear­lier, they had man­aged just 99 from their 20 overs, los­ing by eight wick­ets to Syd­ney Thun­der, who fin­ished bot­tom.Their three de­feats in the group stages came to the three bot­tom sides.

But they are a mighty strong side, and when they win, they tend to win well. They have the com­pe­ti­tion’s best bowler, Sean Ab­bott, and Moises Hen­riques, a shrewd cap­tain and smart bats­man, es­pe­cially in chases. Dan Hughes is the most im­proved bats­man in the com­pe­ti­tion, and Nathan Lyon and Jack­son Bird have re­turned from Test duty to bol­ster the bowl­ing.

Be­cause Six­ers only seem to lose to teams be­low them in the lad­der, they have al­ready beaten Scorchers, who fin­ished top. But Scorchers have pro­duced their tried and tested for­mula – squeeze in the field, then bat steady – to per­fec­tion in the last two games, thrash­ing Ho­bart Hur­ri­canes to fin­ish top, then rout­ing Mel­bourne Stars (with Mitchell John­son bowl­ing beau­ti­fully) to book a home fi­nal.

The game will be the last in the BBL at the Waca, as Scorchers move to the new Perth Sta­dium. The game sold out in four hours (of course it did). A bel­ter awaits.

BIG BASH! Year in Re­view... Best bats­man: Chris Lynn

Lynn only played five games, but still has seven more sixes (26) than any other player, and hit a six ev­ery seven balls. He made 84 not out, 85 not out and, best of all, 98 not out in a win against Scorchers, the best bowl­ing line-up, at the Waca, the tough­est venue.

Best bowler: Sean Ab­bott

Last year, Ab­bott was ploughed for 51 in 16 balls as Travis Head stole the New Year’s Eve show at Ade­laide Oval. This time, Ab­bott took a five-fer on NYE and leads the wicket-tak­ing charts with 20. To boot, he bowled a suc­cess­ful su­per over, has fin­ished two chases and taken seven catches.

Best in­nings

Lynn’s 98 was spe­cial, but it’s hard to ar­gue with Ho­bart Hur­ri­canes’ Ben McDer­mott’s re­mark­able knock of 114 off 52 to chase down 223 against Rene­gades. In just his sec­ond BBL game and re­plac­ing the dropped Ku­mar San­gakkara, chas­ing the high­est score ever made in the com­pe­ti­tion.

Best bowl­ing per­for­mance

Ah, Mitchell. Nice to see you again. John­son had en­joyed a stel­lar if un­spec­tac­u­lar tour­na­ment un­til the semi-fi­nal when he dis­missed Rob Quiney, Luke Wright and Kevin Pi­etersen in a re­mark­able four-over spell that served up two maid­ens and just three runs, all but guar­an­tee­ing Scorchers a spot in the fi­nal.

Best all-rounder: Aaron Finch

Eh? Finch did ev­ery­thing for Rene­gades. He im­pressed in his main roles, as cap­tain and open­ing bat, with four of his team’s six fifties, and more than 120 more runs than

any of his team-mates. But Finch was not done there. When his team needed some­one to de­fend nine from the fi­nal over, Finch stepped up (he failed, but only thanks to a last ball six). Twice, keeper Peter Nevill went down in­jured, and twice Finch donned the gloves. Is there any­thing he can­not do?

Best English­man

Sam Billings did well for Six­ers, Stu­art Broad put in some fine per­for­mances for Hur­ri­canes, and KP is still pretty good, too. But the best English­men have been out in the west. Ian Bell has been solid for Scorchers but it’s the bowl­ing all-rounders who have done best. David Wil­ley got seven wick­ets in five games (with an econ­omy un­der 6.5), be­fore Tim Bres­nan picked up ex­actly where he left off. Bres­nan has bowled can­nily at the death, chang­ing his pace and pick­ing up six wick­ets in four games so far. Can he and Bell in­spire Scorchers in the fi­nal?

Best bit

Af­ter a barn­storm­ing year last year, there were ques­tions about how much scope there was for im­prove­ment. But even though fi­nals have taken place at smaller sta­di­ums, crowds are still up (av­er­ag­ing over 30,000), and so are TV au­di­ences. Four teams sold out ev­ery game, there have been 20 sell-outs over­all.

Big­gest gripe

Aus­tralia’s ODIs clash with the com­pe­ti­tion, mean­ing the best play­ers get snapped up by the na­tional team. The two en­ti­ties are on a col­li­sion course. Sec­ondly, when gim­micks get in the way of the game, such as the first ball of the semi-fi­nal at the Gabba be­ing bowled in a smoke-filled sta­dium due to fire­works be­ing set off. The BBL needs to grow up fast – it’s bet­ter than this.

PIC­TURE: Getty Im­ages

Tak­ing aim: The Scorchers’ Tim Bres­nan fields off his own bowl­ing and at­tempts to run out Kevin Pi­etersen

Plenty to shout about: David Wil­ley was in top form with the ball be­fore he left to join Eng­land

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.