Turner stars to take Scorchers home

Perth Scorchers vs Melbourne Renegades
Melbourne Renegades 185-3 (White 68*, Cooper 57, Harris 48, Tye 36-2) lost to Perth Scorchers 186-5 (Turner 70, Willey 55, Agar 26*) by 5 wickets at WACA Ground

For over 20 years, Brad Hogg had been a hero for crowds at the WACA, whether playing for Western Australia or the Perth Scorchers. Now, playing in the colours of the Melbourne Renegades, he was taking an emotional last bow in his final game at the ground before the Scorchers’ relocation to their flash new stadium. Things were going well for Hogg. He had removed Hilton Cartwright with an excellent delivery, and the Renegades were on top. The ageless 46-year-old proved he was still the fan favourite, signing autographs for the parochial home fans. It was amidst this backdrop of adulation and autograph opportunities that he received a chance to all but end the game.

Ashton Turner was on 16, and facing Jack Wildermuth. He slashed too hard at the ball, and it was sliced straight to Hogg at third man. He ran in, attempted to set himself, and made a meal of the straightforward catch, as the Scorchers’ most threatening batsman survived. Hogg, for perhaps the last time at the WACA, received a standing ovation and acknowledged it, arms outstretched and facing the fans with a wide grin, like the born showman he is. If only he had known how costly his gaffe would be.

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Recovery: Ashton Turner hits out during his match-winning 70.

Turner gave some indication a few balls later, effortlessly launching Wildermuth for six over long-on. Soon he was in unstoppable touch. Wildermuth was ramped twice in successive balls, and carved clinically through point. At the other end, Hogg came on to repair the damage, and David Willey hit him for a pair of boundaries to bring up a fairly slow but important half-century. Kane Richardson was edged down to third man for four. Even the departure of Willey, who looked to go big against Richardson but could only find the man, could not halt the Scorchers’ momentum.

The time had come for Hogg to bowl his last ball at the WACA. Ashton Agar had joined Turner in finding the fence to put the Renegades under pressure, but Hogg had proved up to the test. Three runs had come off his first five balls, and the Scorchers needed a boundary. Turner, now on 58 after his reprieve on 16, received a high full toss, and couldn’t have put it away any better. To add insult to injury, a no-ball was called, and the free hit received similar treatment. Hogg had smiled all day, even when dropping a key catch and getting hit around. He had looked like he was having fun. Now, having been hit for 13 off his last legitimate delivery at his old home ground, the anguish was writ large on his face even as he sought to continue his bubbly charade. The rest of the chase was far from smooth, with Turner and Adam Voges run out before Agar took the Scorchers over the line, but the Renegades were just not good enough as the massive target was run down.

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Innovation: Tom Cooper plays one of his ramp shots during his crafty half-century.

The Scorchers only had themselves to blame for needing so many runs in the first place. Aaron Finch was dropped second ball, and although he was dismissed with the next delivery he faced, from the in-form Mitchell Johnson, it was a sign of what was to come. Marcus Harris played some nice shots, but gave plenty of chances the Scorchers could not take, and they allowed him to move to 48 before he finally picked out Turner at point. At this point, the Scorchers began to tighten the net. Tom Cooper couldn’t get going, even after being given a life by Josh Inglis’ terrible effort at a high catch. He was on one at the time.

With four overs to go, the Renegades were 2/122. Then Cooper, who had been subdued for his whole innings, got going against some very poor death bowling from Jhye Richardson. Richardson’s bowling has gone downhill ever since his selection for the Australian ODI team, and he bowled with no plan as Cooper used his pace against him expertly. The Dutch international hit the ball all around the field and toyed with the bowlers, and the run rate skyrocketed. At the other end, Cameron White was at his dependable best, and as the Scorchers fell apart he capitalised as well. Both brought up half-centuries, and the tally of 63 runs from the last four overs was an indictment on the Scorchers’ death bowlers. When Klinger was dismissed by Mohammad Nabi for a golden duck and Willey struggled to get going, the hosts looked set for a second straight loss. But for Turner’s intervention and Hogg’s costly drop, a second straight loss would have come to pass, in a game which perfectly summed up the contradictory feelings of fragility and invincibility which have surrounded the Scorchers’ performances this season.

Top 5
1. Ashton Turner (Perth Scorchers)
Turner took the game by the scruff of the neck with a dominant innings, launching plenty of sixes and running brilliantly to score 70 at over two runs a ball. He batted deep into the innings and ensured that by the time he was dismissed the Scorchers were firmly in the box seat. He looks to be in excellent form, and ready for the rest of the tournament.
2. Cameron White (Melbourne Renegades)
White anchored the Renegades’ innings with another big contribution, batting as if he was never going to get out and keeping his coolness even when the Scorchers piled on the pressure in the middle overs. He began to find the boundary towards the end of the innings, and allowed the Renegades to set a formidable target.
3. Tom Cooper (Melbourne Renegades)
Cooper accelerated rapidly to raise a lightning half-century following a slow start, and closed the innings out with power and innovation. He benefitted from a horrendous missed catch from Inglis, but he looks to have found good touch following a pair of games in which he was not called upon to bat.
4. David Willey (Perth Scorchers)
Willey bowled lucklessly as a couple of catches went down off his bowling, but he excelled with bat in hand in compiling a solid half-century. He hit some nice shots, and his form improved greatly as the innings progressed. His ability to hang around following the early departure of Klinger gave the Scorchers the platform they needed to win the game.
5. Ashton Agar (Perth Scorchers)
Agar was not as tight as he has been in previous games, but he was still fairly solid with ball in hand and closed out the game well with the bat. He hit some very nice sixes to alleviate any late pressure, and sealed the win with a very well struck cover drive. He showed excellent composure, and looks to have found some good form with the bat.

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