Short destroys Heat as Hurricanes limp over the line

Brisbane Heat vs Hobart Hurricanes
Hobart Hurricanes 179-4 (Short 122*, Cutting 27-2, Steketee 51-2) def Brisbane Heat 176-8 (Heazlett 45, McCullum 33, Ross 27, Peirson 26*, Boyce 23-2) by 3 runs at the Gabba

The ball flew high into the air off D’Arcy Short’s bat. Short was on 60 at the time and looking ominous as he continued his brilliant 2018 form, but this ball presented the Brisbane Heat with a chance to remove him. It was set to land inside the ring as Joe Burns positioned himself under the catch, looking slightly tentative. It broke through his hands and fell to the Gabba turf, as Alex Ross watched on in close proximity. Had he taken it, the Heat probably would have come away with the win. He didn’t take it, and Short went on to 122 not out, single-handedly taking the Hobart Hurricanes to a fourth straight victory which puts them on the edge of the top four.

Short’s innings, the highest in the history of the BBL, was the story of the Hurricanes’ batting effort. He found a perfect symbiosis of patience and explosivity, and every shot was played with poise, power and a still head. For large parts of the innings he was content to knock around singles, but when the Heat were starting to get on top he would knock them back with a flurry of boundaries. The first such burst came as the Hurricanes appeared to be heading for an unsatisfactory PowerPlay. He stepped in with a series of cuts and pulls when Mark Steketee and Brendan Doggett dropped short. He did it again through the middle just after his reprieve, belting Steketee for a massive six through mid-wicket and hitting Ben Cutting for a series of fours. Now, for the third time in four innings, he found himself in the nineties, once again tantalisingly close in his pursuit of the elusive ton. It had been a stumbling block in the past, but when Doggett’s half-volley was launched over the head of long-on into the stands, the stumbling block had been overcome. His celebration showed no sign of relief, only a desire to get back to business. When Steketee dropped short in the last over, he was punished, as Short brought up a record BBL score with a hat-trick of sixes to the massive leg-side boundary.

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At long last: D’Arcy Short raises his bat after bringing up the first century of the season.

If only his partners had been half as good. While Short carted the bowlers for 122, his teammates could only flounder around hitting singles at the other end. Alex Doolan never found form before he edged one from Steketee onto his stumps. Matthew Wade’s innings presented the Heat with a litany of chances from the moment he inside edged his second ball past the stumps and a diving Jimmy Peirson for four. Over the course of a streaky innings he was dropped by Yasir Shah and two catches fell agonisingly short of fielders before he holed out against a short, leg-side ball from Cutting. Ben McDermott hit a towering six against the bowling of Yasir, but couldn’t do anything else before he picked out Ross, and George Bailey looked to be in horrible form as he occupied the crease in the final overs. The final tally of 179 was big, but it was hard to escape the feeling that they should have done a lot better.

The run chase had a bit of everything: a fast start and a subsequent recovery that looked to have extinguished the Heat’s hopes, a dose of controversy emanating from a shocking umpiring decision and a rapid finish provoked by some horrible death bowling. Sam Heazlett and Brendon McCullum got the Heat off to a flying start, belting Simon Milenko and Clive Rose to all parts on their way to a PowerPlay total of 0/62. The Heat looked unstoppable, and when Tymal Mills put down a straightforward catch as McCullum helped one from Jofra Archer straight down his throat at short fine-leg he looked to have given the Heat captain a very costly reprieve. Then came the recovery. It was started by Cameron Boyce, who removed McCullum just after the conclusion of the PowerPlay, and continued by the very occasional left-arm leg-spin of Short. Short made his only mistake of the night by dropping Burns, but it didn’t matter too much as Burns was gone shortly afterwards, and when the centurion trapped Heazlett plumb in front the Heat were in serious trouble.

At this point Archer stepped up to deliver a moment of skill and swagger which appeared to snuff out the Heat’s hopes. With the Heat needing nearly 12 an over, Cutting looked to be the only man capable of scoring quickly enough to get them over the line, even with Ross showing good form at the other end. Archer’s first ball to Cutting was a full, 147 kph thunderbolt, and it was hit back with equal vigour. The ball flew off Cutting’s bat, and looked destined for the boundary. The umpire was ducking out of the way. Archer simply stuck his right hand into the air and came down with the ball. It was as if the Gabba froze, first in confusion, then in disbelief. Archer was merely staring Cutting down, before nonchalantly turning on his heel and tossing it back over his shoulder. Cutting could only stand there, scarcely believing what had just transpired.

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Controversial: Alex Ross (right) slides to make his ground. He was given out for obstructing the field.

Then came the controversy. With 49 runs required from 19 balls, the Heat were not in a great position. Ross, however, was still there, and looking in fairly good touch. If they were to pull off an unlikely heist, it felt like he would need to be there to do it. An otherwise innocuous throw from the boundary ricocheted off Ross’ body onto the stumps. The umpires went upstairs to look at the run out chance (he was clearly in) but as they continued to look at replays for much longer than they should have it was clear that something was amiss. It was like watching a car crash unfold in slow motion. The longer they looked, the clearer it was that a nonsensical verdict of obstructing the field was coming, but nothing could be done to stop it. The letter of the law, and its practical application, was completely ignored, and Ross was sent on his way. It was a howler, plain and simple, and it left the Heat in dire straights.

Then the Hurricanes put on a baffling display that nearly cost them the game. Rose had been withheld from the attack until the eighteenth over, but now Bailey seemed to decide that the game was safely in their hands. He was hit for two sixes, with Jimmy Peirson denting the sightscreen with a particularly forceful blow. Then Archer decided to come around the wicket and was flayed by Peirson through a poorly thought-out field, and they had put themselves back under the pump. The Heat needed 13 from the last over. It was chaos. Doggett was forced to make two spectacular dives to save himself from being run out, and after a series of bizarre events the Heat needed four off the last ball, with the well-set Peirson having denied himself the strike due to some odd running between the wickets. Not to be outdone, Dan Christian put one straight in the slot, but Doggett was not good enough to get it away. The Hurricanes came out of a night that had it all with a big win, and the Heat were left to rue what might have been.

Top 5
1. D’Arcy Short (Hobart Hurricanes)
Short had been threatening to bring up the season’s first century ever since 2018 began, and he finally achieved the feat with a quality display of controlled power. His series of sixes at the end of the innings lifted the Hurricanes to 179, and he played a big role in the defence with his tidy left-arm leg-spin. It was a perfect night for him, and continues his push for international honours.
2. Cameron Boyce (Hobart Hurricanes)
Boyce turned the game around for the Hurricanes by removing McCullum and Burns after the Heat dominated the PowerPlay, and keeping things tight with his accurate leg-spin. His combination with Short through the middle overs took away the Heat’s momentum, and his continued improvement as the season has gone on bodes well for the Hurricanes.
3. Sam Heazlett (Brisbane Heat)
Heazlett fell just short of a half-century, but his ability to hit the ball cleanly on both sides of the wicket allowed the Heat to get off to a fast start and give the Hurricanes a massive early scare. He was slightly bogged down when the spinners entered the game, but he still hit a classy six off Boyce towards the end of his innings and showed promise as a replacement for Lynn at the top of the order.
4. Brendon McCullum (Brisbane Heat)
McCullum was as aggressive as ever in starting his innings, putting all the bowlers under immense pressure as the Heat took full advantage of the PowerPlay. He hit some nice boundaries against all the bowlers, and looked ready to take the game away from the Hurricanes before his untimely dismissal.
5. James Peirson (Brisbane Heat)
Peirson has gone from strength to strength since dropping down the order to number 7, and the powerful keeper-batsman nearly stole the game from the Hurricanes with an clinical display of power in the final overs. His six against Rose was hit so powerfully it left a hole in the sightscreen, and had he been on strike at the end the outcome may have been different.

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