Pommy demolition expert Alex Hales has blasted the fastest half-century in Sydney Thunder history as his side produced its highest ever Big Bash total in a rout of the Melbourne Stars.
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The English marauder put the Stars to the sword, blasting an incredible 21-ball half century that eclipsed the Thunder mark set by Daniel Sams (23 balls) only this month as the Thunder rattled up a monstrous 7/219 — just four short of the competition record set by Hobart Hurricanes in 2017.
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When Hales departed with the score at 89 in the eighth over, he had 71 of the Thunder’s runs from just 29 balls — opening partner Usman Khawaja labouring at the other end with 15 off 15.
The eight fours and five sixes gave Hales a strike rate of better than 244.
Hales faced two balls from part-timer Nic Maddinson — one that soared over the Bob Hawke Stand and out of Manuka Oval — “That’s gone 150m, that’s massive,” Seven commentator Brad Hodge said — the next going straight up in the air and sending him on his way after what was one of the most destructive batting performances in Big Bash history.
Stars leggie Adam Zampa copped particular treatment from Hales, going for 26 off two overs.
“Absolutely sensational, so strong, he’s a big guy, so imposing at the crease and he hits so well down the ground — he targeted Adam Zampa, the Stars’ best bowler … just destroyed him,” Fox Cricket’s Mike Hussey said.
It’s been an interesting start to the BBL10 season for the second-leading run scorer in BBL09 (576 runs at 146 strike rate). He kicked off with a less explosive 46 off 41 against the Stars, before back-to-back golden ducks and then 35 off 21 in his last outing, before Tuesday night’s fireworks.
Zampa did fightback, grabbing a trio of wickets to finish with 3/49, but it was too little to late as Khawaja (37 off 31) and captain Callum Ferguson (51 off 37) picked up where Hales left off. A late Ben Cutting flurry of 20 of just seven balls helped the Thunder pass their previous record score.
It was always going to be a monumental task for the Stars who were dealt a huge blow on the final ball of the power play when Marcus Stoinis fell for a swift 27.
They were still a chance with Glenn Maxwell at the crease, but that ended when the Big Show — who became the fourth player in BBL history to score 2000 runs when he hit Daniel Sams over mid-wicket for six — was brilliantly caught in the deep by Adam Milne for 23.
Despite X-Factor sub Ben Dunk clubbing three consecutive sixes off Chris Green, his slowies proved irresistable, netting him 4-34 off four overs as the Stars succumbed for 144 — a 75-run loss.
It turns out cricketers are just like athletes from every other spot — they do not enjoy being subbed off. Stars bowler Lance Morris was clearly unimpressed when he was replaced under the new rule by Dunk, having bowled just one over.
Melbourne coach David Hussey tried to console him, but Morris was pretty keen to get away from him and off the field.
“It’s a team game. It’s okay to be disappointed, but you can’t show it like that,” Andrew Symonds said in commentary.
“You’ve got to keep your chest up and your lip in and just get on with the game. That can be bad for morale if you take things badly like that. It’s sad to see. There’s no point carrying on because it creates an awkward moment.”
Hussey conceded it was a tough situation to navigate.
“It’s very difficult, but it’s one of those things that’s best for the team. Lance is a ripping guy and he understands it beautifully,” he said.
While the batsmen will get all the credit for the victory, it was the Thunder’s spinners who proved the difference on an otherwise difficult night for bowlers in Canberra. Chris Green had his best game of the tournament with figures of 4-34, while Tanveer Sangha was miserly, claiming 2-17 from his four overs to choke the Stars out of the contest.
SILVER LINING FOR STARS
Already focussed on the next job, skipper Glenn Maxwell has indicated gun all-rounder Marcus Stoinis is on track to resume bowling.
Stoinis hasn’t bowled since he limped off the SCG on November 27 with a side injury during Australia’s ODI win over India.
It’s unlikely he will bowl on Saturday when the Stars take on the Hobart Hurricanes, but Maxwell is confident his close mate will be good to go in early 2021.
“I think he’s only a couple of bowls off,” Maxwell said.
“I don’t know how long that’s going to be, but hopefully that’s only one or two weeks. It’d be nice to have him. He’s not only a brilliant T20 batter and a fielder, he’s extremely handy with the ball and can bowl at any stage of the game for us.
“It’d be nice to have his services with the ball.
Bowling has been a big problem for the Stars, who have conceded 413 runs in their past two games and lack a medium-pace bowler who can hit the deck hard.
An injury to fast bowler Nathan Coulter-Nile in the recent loss to the Sydney Sixers hasn’t helped their cause, heaping more pressure on their players to nail their roles.
“Not having Stoinis bowling at the moment probably doesn’t give us that balance in the top order where you can have a couple of batters that bowl,” he said.
“To have that balance in our team is probably something that we’re missing at the moment which means we have to go with specialist bowlers to set up our 20 overs. Unfortunately, that leaves our batting a little bit light.”
WILL’S WOE AS SIXERS PULL OFF THRILLER
Another night, another BBL loss for the Melbourne Renegades as 21-year-old Will Sutherland had a horror night with the ball, the Sydney Sixers claiming victory off the penultimate ball.
Chasing the Gade’s 6-168, the Sixers needed 16 off the last over.
Already plundered for 41 — including a horror no-ball that didn’t hit the cut stuff — Sutherland was entrusted by captain Aaron Finch to bowl the last.
It didn’t go well.
After a dot first ball and a nice yorker that was dug out by towering West Indian Jason Holder for 2, things were looking up.
But, with mid-off up, two full wide ones were dispatched over his head in consecutive balls for four to make it six required off the last two balls.
Mid-off went back, but wasn’t required, Holder taking him on and hitting it over his head for six to finish the match with one ball to spare.
Mic’d up Finch joked on the commentary that he wouldn’t bowl the last over as he’d “tried that before” — referencing the clash with Perth Scorchers in BBL06 when he took a wicket and had a run out and then got clubbed for six by Ashton Agar off the last ball to surrender the match.
Maybe he should have.
Poor Sutherland had nowhere to hide, finishing with 1-57 off 3.5 as Holder raced to 33 off 18 balls and the Sixers took victory.
Holder said he had not hit the ball as he would have liked early in his innings but knew he had to stay alive.
“I knew if I was there at the end I’d give myself a chance — I was just two hits away from bringing the game back within our grasp,” Holder said.
“I try to keep a level head, keep it simple and execute.
“Credit to the Renegades bowlers, I thought they bowled well to that point, they were always in the hunt with 16 required (from the last over) but it was my day today and it was good to get another win.”
Holder’s work undid Kane Richardson’s (2-21) double-wicket effort in the penultimate over, after young gun Josh Philippe set up the chase with 48 off 30 balls at the top of the order.
But the Barbadian had some words of encouragement for the young bowler he’d just taken down.
“It’s just about execution in the end, and I guess I got the better of him today,” Holder said of the 21-year-old.
“But I understand, he’s a youngster and it happens in cricket. When you’re entrusted to bowl the last overs – the big overs of games – these things happen, so my encouragement for him is to keep his head up.
“Trust me, you have those days and he’ll have a few more of them, but the thing is just to (remember) the percentages – these are the tough situations to bowl in and these things are going to happen, and sometimes it goes for you and sometimes it goes against you.
“You have to keep learning and he will definitely learn from this experience, and I give him all my support.”
A fourth consecutive loss left the Renegades anchored near the bottom of the ladder, just ahead of the winless Perth Scorchers.
CATCHES WIN MATCHES
The Renegades needed everything to go right if they were to post just their second win of the season.
But they failed to hold their catches early, Imad Wasim dropping Philippe for four in the second over, with the opener going on to make 48 from 30 balls – including five consecutive boundaries in the fourth over – to set up the Sixers’ victory.
“You can’t afford to drop good players, they hurt you,” Renegades captain Aaron Finch told Fox Sports. “We dropped him (off) a relatively easy chance (on Tuesday night) and he hurt us the last over of the power play.”
Rilee Rossouw’s juggling effort to dismiss Jordan Silk in the 18th over though was a turning point in the match.
HOLDER ON SONG
Jason Holder may be a bowling all-rounder but it was his power hitting that won the game for the Sixers.
The West Indies Test captain took a wicket in his bowling spell but was magnificent in the dying stages, holding his nerves as batting partners dropped around him to deliver a win for the Sixers in his final game of the BBL as he heads off on international duty.
His 33 off 18 balls included nerveless hitting and strong running that helped the Sixers to the top of the competition ladder.
STRONG SIGNS FOR OPENERS
Finch and Shaun Marsh forged their best partnership since Marsh joined the Renegades last season, making 75 for the opening wicket before Finch was dismissed from the last ball of the 10th over.
It’s a promising sign for the Renegades, who have capitulated twice this season chasing big totals and need to be able to rely on their big names performing under pressure.
Marsh’s 67 underpinned the Melbourne innings and while the 37-year-old tired running twos in the heavy Queensland humidity, his effort set up a competitive total for a team that has had trouble competing at all this season. His continued form will be key if the Renegades are to avoid another poor BBL finish.
‘I’LL BE BACK’: HOLDER
West Indian Test captain Holder has been hooked by his first taste of the Big Bash League and hopes to return to the competition next season.
Holder leaves Australia to return to the Caribbean on Wednesday after his thrilling effort for the Sixers.
While strict COVID-19 protocols have forced incoming international players into a mandatory 14-day quarantine that has kept some players away from the Twenty20 league, Holder was not deterred and has been thrilled with his first stint in the competition.
“For me it’s good to finish off on this note,” Holder said.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed BBL cricket and hopefully I can return in the future.”