Fresh start for Hurricanes as Short overpowers Thunder

Sydney Thunder vs Hobart Hurricanes
Hobart Hurricanes 189-3 (Short 97, McDermott 49*, Wade 27) def Sydney Thunder 180-8 (Buttler 81, Patterson 36, Watson 36, Boyce 14-2, Archer 42-2) by 9 runs at Spotless Stadium

If the Hobart Hurricanes had made a new year’s resolution, it would have been to improve on their dismal batting performance against the Sydney Thunder in the closing days of 2017. By virtue of some haphazard fixturing, they had their chance to make amends just two days later, against the same opposition. All that seemed to have changed was the fact that the match was being played in 2018, but the Hurricanes put in a vastly improved batting performance to sink the Thunder and claim their first win of the season.

It was D’Arcy Short who proved the matchwinner. He started his innings with some nice shots, and benefitted from some luck as an inside edge against Chris Green narrowly missed his off stump. The Hurricanes start was more subdued as Short slightly tempered his natural instincts, and Alex Doolan got himself bogged down before throwing his wicket away to Gurinder Sandhu. Sandhu closed his first over with a wicket maiden, and the Thunder looked to be in control. Then Short began to get going.

It was Matthew Wade who kicked off the onslaught that came just after the PowerPlay. Promoted to three despite his poor form with the bat, the deposed Australian wicketkeeper had started badly but got himself going with a big six against Arjun Nair. Short drilled Fawad Ahmed down the ground for six in the next over, and both cashed in again as Sandhu returned, pitched too short, and was smashed for two sixes. The Thunder mounted a slight recovery, with Short facing three dot balls with his score on 49 and Wade departing shortly afterwards, with Ahmed catching him out with a nice ball as he looked to slog sweep. The Hurricanes looked to have thrown away some of their early momentum.

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Big innings: D’Arcy Short hits to the on-side during his brilliant 97.

The turning point came when Shane Watson returned to the attack. His first over had been inexpensive, bogging Short down and delaying his efforts to reach 50. His first ball was a single for Ben McDermott, and then the fireworks began. Watson was hit for a towering six over mid-wicket, and smote twice through the covers. When he dropped short, Short capitalised and glided it over the top of third-man. The over went for 20, and when McDermott began to get going things began to spiral out of control. Boundaries flew on both sides of the wicket, as Short found himself in the nineties but unable to get the strike as McDermott hit four after four. Mitchell McClenaghan was disqualified from bowling after a horror start to the last over, and with Watson closing it out it looked as if both could reach their upcoming milestones. Neither could, with Short holing out for 97 and McDermott closing on 48 not out, but the damage was done.

The Thunder began their chase convincingly, as Jos Buttler and Kurtis Patterson found the fence well during the PowerPlay. Tymal Mills was expensive early as Patterson drove beautifully through the covers and Buttler played an extraordinary ramp shot for six, and both were able to get boundaries away off the economical Jofra Archer to close off the PowerPlay at 0/65. Then, through a cruel twist of fate, Patterson was forced to depart. His fluent innings was closed when Short, entering the attack, dropped Buttler onto the non-striker’s end stumps. It wasn’t really a catch, because it was hit far too hard for that, but the resultant deflection was just as damaging. Watson struggled to get going, and the Hurricanes had retaken some control.

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No clue: Ryan Gibson has his innings ended by a brilliant slower ball from Tymal Mills.

Watson began to build into his innings well after a slow start. He was denied a six by Dan Christian’s extraordinary bat back into the field of play, and proceeded to get himself in by drilling fours on either side of the wicket. He really got going against Clive Rose, with two fours and a six making for a big over, and then it was gone. Cameron Boyce was smacked very hard down the ground, but the shot rocketed straight to Doolan. When Callum Ferguson was dismissed the next ball, as Archer made amends for a shocking earlier drop by taking a nice catch, the Thunder were in trouble.

All they had in their favour was the presence of Buttler. He had benefitted from Archer’s horrendous drop as he skied one off Rose, and gone on to make his half-century just before Watson’s departure. Just as Boyce looked set for a double wicket maiden, he hit a big six off the last ball, and was the Thunder’s last hope. Ben Rohrer departed in the next over with a top edged pull shot, and while Archer was smacked for a six and a pair of fours, he also took the wicket of Nair for a golden duck. Buttler couldn’t get the strike as Ryan Gibson floundered against Mills before getting bowled by a wonderful dipping slower ball, and despite slapping the first ball of the next over for four through point, he just couldn’t do it alone. He was run out scrambling to get himself back on strike in the last over, his 81 in vain despite a pair of boundaries from Sandhu which raised hopes of a remarkable victory. The Hurricanes, just days after a crushing defeat against the same team, were just too good.

Top 5
1. D’Arcy Short (Hobart Hurricanes)
Short was the undisputed star of the show, blazing away with timing and plenty of power to fall just three short of what would have been a thoroughly deserved century. He hit some great sixes over the leg side, and took the Thunder bowlers to task with clever footwork and clinical picking of gaps. He has got 2018 off to a perfect start, and will be looking to keep it going.
2. Jos Buttler (Sydney Thunder)
Buttler nearly did enough to guide the Thunder home despite a rapid loss of wickets at the other end. He looks to have found his touch in a big way, and combined his power forward of the wicket and his inventiveness to devastating effect. Unfortunately for the Thunder, he will only play one more game due to international duty, with it all over just as he starts to get going.
3. Ben McDermott (Hobart Hurricanes)
McDermott started slowly but exploded in the last few overs to get himself to an important 48 not out and give the Hurricanes the impetus they needed to post an imposing target. He looked very strong hitting down the ground, and finally seems to have found some much-needed form at this early stage of the season.
4. Cameron Boyce (Hobart Hurricanes)
Boyce was the pick of the Hurricanes bowlers, taking a pair of massive wickets and halting the Thunder’s momentum at a crucial stage in the match. His removal of Watson and Ferguson gave the Hurricanes the late burst they needed to complete their defence, and his work in keeping the runs down after a massive PowerPlay should not be discounted.
5. Kurtis Patterson (Sydney Thunder)
Scored a very nice 36 to get the Thunder off to a rapid start, driving well through the covers and supporting Buttler’s hard-hitting assault with some excellent touch. He was very unlucky to get run out, and looks ready to step up when Buttler leaves a hole in the Thunder’s batting.


McDermott snatches victory from the jaws of defeat

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.

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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.

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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