How to win the unwinnable – Scorchers style

Perth Scorchers vs Melbourne Stars
Perth Scorchers 142-6 (Cartwright 58, Voges 35, Agar 33*, Faulkner 19-2) def Melbourne Stars 129-8 (Faulkner 35*, Quiney 25, Tye 23-5) by 13 runs at the WACA

Through a confluence of bad batting and good bowling, the Perth Scorchers found themselves at 3/10 midway through the fourth over. Will Bosisto had been the first to go, flashing at a wide one from James Faulkner and seeing himself caught at slip. Next Michael Klinger, on return, got bogged down and attempted to hit out, only succeeding in finding a diving Rob Quiney. Faulkner’s two wickets were backed up by Michael Beer, whose non-turning, flat, left-arm orthodox broke through the defences of an advancing Ashton Turner to crash into the stumps. Losing three wickets in the PowerPlay is an almost foolproof way to lose a T20 game. That is, unless you’re talking about the Scorchers, who have crafted a seemingly indestructible juggernaut with their ability to win the unwinnable.

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Happier times: Marcus Stoinis (right) and Peter Handscomb celebrate the wicket of David Willey.

Step one was the initial recovery, which was expertly marshalled by Hilton Cartwright and Adam Voges. Cartwright, the Zimbabwean-born batsman who won a Test debut (amid much consternation) largely due to his gentle medium pace, and Voges, the Scorchers’ omnipresent steady hand at the wheel, began to fight back with some nice boundaries in the fifth over. Voges cut one to the boundary and Cartwright lofted Faulkner for six over mid-off with remarkable ease, considering he was 4 off 14 at the time. The game had soon settled into a comfortable rhythm for both sides. The Stars were keeping the run rate steady, and the Scorchers kept the scoreboard ticking over with cool heads and brilliant running between the wickets.

When Voges fell for 35, cramped for room by John Hastings shortly after Cartwright had passed fifty with a hastily run two, step two of the recovery came into operation. It centred around Ashton Agar, who began to hit out and reap some rewards. Cartwright and David Willey fell at the other end, but Agar held firm with a pair of sixes and capped it off with a four off the last ball of the innings when Scott Boland strayed onto his hip and paid the price. Even still, the Stars would have been confident in their ability to chase the Scorchers’ meagre return of 142.

The next step was to take some wickets, preferably early ones. Mitchell Johnson led off well, beating Ben Dunk four times in a row before he caught the outside edge. As Luke Wright and Peter Handscomb began to mount a recovery, however, the Scorchers’ prospects looked grim. Then Andrew Tye, as he has done so many times before, stepped up. His second ball removed Handscomb, who was unlucky to be on the end of a brilliant piece of boundary fielding from Bosisto as he tried to follow up a boundary the ball before. Bosisto caught the ball leaning back over the rope, and threw it back in to complete a coolly taken catch. He couldn’t repeat the feat when Wright hit one his way moments later, but the Englishman popped up a limp chance off the next ball. The Stars were 3/36, and the Scorchers’ recovery was well underway.

At this point, it was time to tighten the screws as the Stars looked to recover. Jhye Richardson concluded the PowerPlay by removing Glenn Maxwell, who played an innings devoid of awareness and maturity, to leave the Stars 4/40. The tables had turned, and it was time for the Stars to recover their innings as the Scorchers had done so expertly. Unfortunately for Marcus Stoinis and Quiney, the Scorchers bowling unit specialises in suffocating their opposition, and through Agar’s miserly spin and some clever bowling any early momentum that had built up had soon dissipated. When Tye bagged another wicket, with Stoinis falling victim to a brilliant catch as Cartwright dived forward in the outfield, the game looked over.

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The end: Andrew Tye celebrates after closing out the come-from-behind win with the wicket of Adam Zampa.

Step five? Finish it off. With some consistent and controlled death bowling, the Scorchers stayed calm even when Quiney and Faulkner began to build a partnership and allowed the asking rate to climb with every passing over. Voges ran out Quiney just as the pair needed to get going, showing all of his experience under pressure to hit the stumps with a scrambling Quiney caught metres short. Needing to defend 45 off 24, the Scorchers had no more problems, with Faulkner batting to the end but failing to hit the ball well enough to cause too much stress, and Tye defending 18 runs off the last over while claiming the two wickets which brought up a deserved five-wicket haul. The Stars put the Scorchers into a seemingly unwinnable position. The Scorchers, with calmness and plenty of confidence, got on with it and won all the same. It’s just what they do.

Top 5
1. Andrew Tye (Perth Scorchers)
Tye bagged three big wickets early, and closed the innings out with two excellent death overs culminating in a five-wicket haul. With nine wickets in his first two games, he looks to be in great form, and, scarily, still has room for improvement.
2. Hilton Cartwright (Perth Scorchers)
Cartwright played a mature innings with his side in a big hole at 3/10, recovering from a slow start to pick up an excellent fifty and give the Scorchers something to defend. He showed some nice power in attack, and looked very solid. Took an outstanding catch on the boundary to dismiss Stoinis, diving forward to cleanly grab a flat pull shot.
3. James Faulkner (Melbourne Stars)
Faulkner appeared to have won it for the Stars with some great PowerPlay bowling, removing Bosisto and Klinger and building plenty of pressure. He was the Stars’ best with the bat, showing plenty of calmness during the rebuild and providing some power at the end even if he could not get them over the line.
4. Adam Voges (Perth Scorchers)
Voges was happy playing second fiddle to Cartwright, and showed his experience while playing a key role in their 83-run partnership. He showed his class with a composed direct hit to remove Quiney, and marshalled his bowlers very well in the successful defence.
5. Ashton Agar (Perth Scorchers)
Agar delivered with both bat and ball, striking some lusty blows to get the Scorchers past 140 and restricting the Stars with some tight bowling. He capitalised on the early wickets, but bowled no bad balls and didn’t go to the boundary once in his four over spell. He appears to have found the consistency to pin down an end, which bodes well for the Scorchers.


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