It was over. It was over as the Melbourne Renegades plundered the Hobart Hurricanes bowlers, sending them to all corners of the diminutive Etihad Stadium. Jake Reed was hit for 54. Stuart Broad was smashed for 39. Dan Christian, Cameron Boyce and Sam Rainbird were taken apart. D’Arcy Short bowled one over, and it went for 18. The final tally, 222, was 12 runs higher than any other score in Big Bash history. There was no question as to who would win the match.
The Hurricanes needed to go all out, and it was against this backdrop that Tom Cooper seized the early momentum. After a swashbuckling and innovative 53 not out which included reverse ramps, cleanly struck pull shots and pretty much everything in between, it was all over when he took the new ball and knocked over Tim Paine with the third ball of the innings. The Hurricanes captain was out for a golden duck.
At that point Ben McDermott strode out to the crease. The man who had come into the side when the Hurricanes quietly dropped Kumar Sangakkara, he was under pressure to pin down a spot. Not only that, he was competing with one of the greatest batsmen cricket has ever seen, a true legend of the game. A legend with over 12,000 test runs. If the game hadn’t been sealed when Paine fell, it was the wicket of Short that should have done it. Despite being somewhat hit and miss this Big Bash (with two fifties and two golden ducks), there was still a feeling that he was the man. That is, if the Hurricanes were to miraculously win. He was bowled, seemingly extinguishing all hope. It was the third over.
It was over as McDermott scratched around with George Bailey, recently dropped from the Australian one-day side. He had one run from 6 balls, then 7 from 7 as he hit his first six, dispatching Xavier Doherty over the midwicket fence. No-one could have known how many more boundaries like that he had in store. When the powerplay ended, he had 24 off 17, and the Hurricanes had some momentum before James Pattinson and Brad Hogg took it away with some tight bowling. With the last ball of the eighth over, Bailey was dropped. Aaron Finch got a hand to it, but he couldn’t get it as it fell to the ground. Hogg laughed it off. If only he knew.
It was over as Pattinson returned for a second over. It didn’t matter when McDermott launched the second ball for his third six. It didn’t even matter when the next ball went too. 19 runs came off it, but it still seemed a bridge too far. A single off Hogg in the next over brought up 50 for McDermott, off 31 balls. A closer look would have revealed that he had hit 22 off his last six. The innings continued to meander along. It was over.
Innovation: Tom Cooper (in red) reverse sweeps during his rapid half-century.
It was over as Brad Hogg stood at the top of his mark to bowl the thirteenth over. 15 runs had come from the 45-year-old’s first two overs, and after years of brilliant overs he had no reason to see that this one would be any different. 1 came off the first, to Bailey. Then an edge for four. And another for three. Then another single. The fifth one was tossed up, and drilled over cover. Suddenly, the over had gone for 13, all before the last ball was dispatched, with clinical precision and disdainful ease. It went for six, the over for 19. McDermott had 80, off 42 balls.
Pattinson came in again to stop what had started as a cameo but turned into a major concern. He failed, as two more fours and two more sixes put paid to that. A pull shot over square leg brought up one hundred, and a few fist pumps from McDermott before he returned to the important business of winning the match. 24 runs had come from the over, and suddenly the game was back up for grabs.
McDermott had 114 off 51 balls as he took Thisara Perera’s second over for 16. Sunil Narine came on. He was their only hope, and he delivered. McDermott, brimming with confidence, took on the reverse sweep and was hit on the thigh pad. The umpire’s finger went up, and a brilliant innings was ended. Four runs came from the over. Surely it was done once again.
Then it wasn’t. Christian hit Hogg for six over square leg, then four through midwicket. Then he was out, leg before as a sweep shot went wrong. Hogg celebrated with all the enthusiasm of a child on Christmas morning, before bowling Jonathan Wells for a golden duck. Finally, it seemed, the Renegades had done it.
Top form: Ben McDermott hits to the leg side during his innings of 114.
George Bailey had something to say about that. For so long the passenger as McDermott hit the bowlers to all parts, he whacked Perera for six with the first ball of the eighteenth. After two balls, they needed 30 off 16. Then a dot. It was over. And then it wasn’t as Bailey hit a four, bringing up fifty with a shot through the covers. Another dot followed, a wide yorker leaving Bailey on the ground. Then another boundary, through cover again. This crazy game had not decided it was going to end. Not yet anyway.
It looked over after Narine worked his magic in the nineteenth, taking it to 18 needed from 9 balls. Then Beau Webster launched one high into the Melbourne sky. It was back on, at least for a few seconds before it became clear that Cooper was going to catch it, and that there would be no more runs from Webster. Bailey went three balls later. Now, with 16 runs needed from 6 balls, it could surely be laid to rest. Surely.
The last over started well for the Renegades. A single to Rainbird, followed by a run out as Narine made a brilliant stop before throwing the stumps down from third man. A long delay followed as the third umpire tried to ascertain whether keeper Peter Nevill had broken the stumps. After a tense wait, Boyce was given out.
The first ball Stuart Broad faced contained a litany of errors. Perera delivered a slow, wide full toss, which Broad somehow failed to hit, and Nevill somehow failed to grasp. He then missed the stumps, and they stole an overthrow as no-one backed up. Broad hit a two, before the fourth ball of the over went to the fence as a half-volley was dispatched. Five off two. Suddenly, an edge went through the slips, and with one ball to go the scores were level. Perera bowled back of a length, and Broad edged it high into the air. As it became clear that the ball would land safe over the packed infield, Broad celebrated, almost running an unnecessary second out of jubilation. Now, finally, it was over. The Renegades had lost the unlosable.
This win keeps the Hurricanes in the competition, but finals are still going to be a challenge. Either way, they will always have this game to remember, a great memory to take away from this season. For the Renegades, it will almost certainly be the one that got away, whether they sneak into the top four or not. For anyone who watched it, it is a game, and more specifically an innings, that will be remembered for years to come, the kind of memories the Big Bash needs if it is to weave itself further into Australia’s sporting fabric.
Melbourne Renegades vs Hobart Hurricanes, Etihad Stadium, Melbourne
Melbourne Renegades 222-4 (MS Harris 25 (19), AJ Finch 63 (40), CL White 34 (19), TLW Cooper 54* (24), CJ Ferguson 15 (7), NLTC Perera 28* (11). Bowling: SCJ Broad 4-0-39-0, SL Rainbird 3-0-37-0, DT Christian 4-0-37-1, JK Reed 4-0-54-2, CJ Boyce 4-0-36-0, DJM Short 1-0-18-1)
Hobart Hurricanes 223-8 (DJM Short 18 (11), TD Paine 0 (1), BR McDermott 114 (52), GJ Bailey 59 (42), DT Christian 12 (6), JW Wells 0 (1), BJ Webster 0 (2), CJ Boyce 1 (1), SL Rainbird 1* (1), SCJ Broad 11* (4). Bowling: TLW Cooper 2-0-12-2, XJ Doherty 3-0-30-0, SP Narine 4-0-27-3, JL Pattinson 3-0-47-0, GB Hogg 4-0-45-2, NLTC Perera 4-0-59-0)
Hobart Hurricanes won by 2 wickets
Player of the match: BR McDermott (Hobart Hurricanes)
Toss: Hobart Hurricanes, who chose to field
Umpires: PJ Gillespie and P Wilson