Late storm not enough as Hurricanes fall to Carey classic

Adelaide Strikers vs Hobart Hurricanes
Adelaide Strikers 187-4 (Carey 100, Weatherald 65, Archer 27-3) def Hobart Hurricanes 176-4 (Doolan 70*, McDermott 45, Short 28) by 11 runs at Adelaide Oval

D’Arcy Short was on strike, and looked slightly tied down against the disciplined bowling of the Adelaide Strikers. The Hobart Hurricanes were behind in their pursuit of the Strikers’ formidable 187, and the in-form Short was shaping as their biggest hope. With the last ball of his second over Michael Neser delivered a slower ball pitching on a good length. It was the kind of delivery Short has smoked to the boundary in his previous innings, but this time he could only get a slight edge off the toe of the bat. Alex Carey, taking the gloves after compiling a first-innings century in sweltering conditions at the Adelaide Oval, dived forwards with his legs spread, and took the catch easily. The Strikers’ initial reaction was one of subdued shock giving way to elation, as the BBL’s leading run scorer was dismissed. The Hurricanes fought hard, and gave the hosts a late scare with a series of boundaries, but without Short’s clean-hitting and dependable presence they just couldn’t get over the line as the Strikers moved to the top of the table.

The Strikers benefitted from an opening partnership which laid a formidable platform. Carey was the main man, marching to an imperious century with poise and power. He was perfectly calm despite a slow start, and when the runs started to flow he began to put the Hurricanes under pressure. He closed out the PowerPlay with a flat six against Tymal Mills, and displayed excellent temperament as he continued to work the ball around and run up the score with some clinical batting. He survived after skying one against D’Arcy Short following some calamitous fielding from Cameron Boyce, and with the aid of some shocking mishaps on the boundary he cruised to 73 off 46 balls. Then he exploded. Dan Christian, bowling the sixteenth over, was the victim of the savage assault, with ball after ball flying off the middle of the bat and running to the boundary. 22 came from the over, and Carey brought up a classy century with an easy single to the mid-wicket boundary off the bowling of Boyce. He let some rare emotion cross his usually unflustered face as he celebrated the second ton of the season, and the Hurricanes were in big trouble.

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Partners in crime: Alex Carey (left) and Jake Weatherald celebrate after Carey brings up his century.

Their problems were exacerbated by Jake Weatherald’s dramatic return to form. Weatherald came into the game out of touch and under pressure, having failed to deliver an innings worthy of his immense talent and ball striking ability. He started slowly as the Hurricanes sought to tie him down with the left-arm spin of Clive Rose and Short, but a pair of boundaries against Rose and Jofra Archer allowed him to find some rhythm. When Mills entered the attack Weatherald hit him for a comfortable six over the very short leg-side boundary, and he withstood the post PowerPlay spin attack which has so often proved his downfall. When Archer returned to the attack he was hit into the stands, and with a sweep shot which evaded Archer’s dive at fine-leg and a well-run single he brought up his first fifty of the tournament. He continued to press forward, and soon the pair had added 171.

With a massive total in the offing, Archer stepped up. He delivered a series of perfect yorkers, and extracted reverse swing in the dying overs while accounting for all four wickets to fall. Weatherald was the first to depart, falling to Archer’s remarkable play of the day, a direct hit run out completed while the flamboyant import lay on his back. The next ball saw the end of Carey’s brilliant knock, as Archer fired a lightning quick yorker past his futile swing. Colin Ingram and Jonathan Wells struggled to gain traction against some accurate bowling, and eventually Wells was out lbw to a ball which cannoned into his foot. Then Jake Lehmann, the unfortunately mustachioed son of the Australian coach, was left spreadeagled on the ground after he was clean bowled. Archer had limited the damage, but without the support of his teammates the final tally of 187 looked formidable.

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Too good: Jofra Archer leaves Jake Lehmann both dismissed and embarrassed with a ripping delivery.

The Hurricanes didn’t start well enough, with Short and Alex Doolan struggling to get going early against some disciplined PowerPlay bowling. Billy Stanlake managed to build up some dots against Short, and a series of cleanly hit boundaries against Neser weren’t enough to get the red-hot opener going. The Hurricanes’ chase was beginning to flag before Short’s departure, as Doolan was unable to score faster than a run a ball and the asking rate climbed steadily. George Bailey came in, but he couldn’t provide the spark, and was clean bowled by an inch-perfect Peter Siddle yorker. With Short’s failure, the Hurricanes simply had no answer to the Strikers’ top-quality attack. They needed someone to step up, but it wasn’t clear who was capable.

Then Doolan got going, immediately after being hit in the helmet by a vicious Ben Laughlin bouncer. The first few boundaries hardly inspired fear, with a series of edges flying past Carey on their way to the fence. One might have said it was just Doolan swinging hard, as well he should with the required rate sitting at nearly 13 an over. Then he started to score some runs with genuine cricket shots, and things got a little testy. Before this game, Rashid Khan had not conceded more than 23 runs in a four-over spell. Doolan hit him for 20 in one over, launching him into the stands three times and bringing up his fifty in the process. Then he was dropped, as Siddle missed a straightforward chance and split the webbing on his finger. There was doubt as to whether the former Test star could bowl another over, and suddenly the Strikers were under a bit of pressure.

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Having a crack: Alex Doolan swings hard during his unbeaten 70.

Ben McDermott added to that pressure by throwing his clean hitting into the mix. After bursting onto the scene last year with a blistering century in a record chase, McDermott has only been able to show flashes of his best form this time around. Twice he has launched balls onto the roof of Blundstone Arena, but he hadn’t been able to convert his starts into something meaningful. This was his chance, and he looked set to seize it with a series of boundaries, all hit as clean as a whistle. He had moved into the forties, and when Laughlin miscued with a low full toss he had a chance to bring up his fifty. Instead, he hit the errant ball straight to Wells, who showed composure which stood apart from the poor fielding exhibited in the rest of the match and held on. Doolan’s luck and power seemed to evaporate with the loss of his partner, and the Strikers were spared any more nervous moments by Siddle’s brilliant return to the attack and Neser’s calmly bowled last over. Just like that, the Hurricanes’ five-game winning streak was ended, and the Strikers re-established their credentials as a genuine title contender with a crucial win.

Top 5
1. Alex Carey (Adelaide Strikers)
Carey batted with confidence from start to finish, and hit the ball cleanly on his way to a well-compiled hundred. Some of his flat sixes were remarkable shots, and he combined perfectly with Weatherald to put on 171 for the first wicket and all but bat the Hurricanes out of the game. He put in a tired effort with the gloves, but still managed to take a nice catch and pull off some neat work behind the stumps.
2. Alex Doolan (Hobart Hurricanes)
Doolan flicked a switch halfway through his innings, and began to get the score ticking over at a rapid rate with a combination of streaky edges and well-hit slog sweeps. He achieved the rare feat of hitting Rashid for three sixes in an over, and showed an aggressive side that had been missing in his previous innings. He batted through the innings, and will be happy with his half-century.
3. Jake Weatherald (Adelaide Strikers)
Weatherald came into the game in the middle of a form slump, but found his best form and combined with Carey to devastating effect. He was the slower of the two openers, but he managed to play some nice shots and displayed plenty of power against the quicks. His efforts at deep mid-wicket stood out on an otherwise dismal day for fielding.
4. Jofra Archer (Hobart Hurricanes)
Archer can do plenty of things wrong, but barely a game passes without him providing a moment worthy of a place on the highlight reels. In this game, it was a direct hit while lying on the ground, and he followed it up with a top-class display of death bowling to limit the Strikers to 187. His ability to reverse swing the ball at extreme pace made him a nightmare to face at the end of the innings.
5. Michael Neser (Adelaide Strikers)
Neser’s night got off to a horror start as Short took an initial liking to him, but he recovered cleverly to remove the in-form opener and keep things tight with an impressive array of variations. He was unlucky not to remove Doolan, and bowled very well at the death to close out the win for the Strikers. He showed plenty of maturity, and his newfound consistency bodes well for the Strikers.

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Thunder spinners rumble hapless Hurricanes

Hobart Hurricanes vs Sydney Thunder
Sydney Thunder 166-5 (Buttler 67, Watson 41, Rose 20-2) def Hobart Hurricanes 109 (Doolan 34, Archer 25*, Ahmed 14-2, Nair 17-2, McClenaghan 19-2, Sandhu 29-2, Green 30-2) by 57 runs at University of Tasmania Stadium

As Alex Doolan and D’Arcy Short walked out to open the Hobart Hurricanes’ pursuit of the 167 set by the Sydney Thunder, the hosts could be forgiven for feeling optimistic. Thanks to some effective late overs bowling they had limited the Thunder fairly well in Launceston’s first ever Big Bash game, and they had given themselves a good chance of getting their first win of the season. In the last over of the match, Tymal Mills edged a ball from Gurinder Sandhu onto his thigh pad and watched it rebound onto his stumps, concluding an innings, and a night, the Hurricanes would like to forget.

The chase started well enough. Doolan hit a nice four against Chris Green, and Short took an immediate liking to Sandhu when he came on for the second over, hitting two fours against shortish balls and hitting a full one beautifully for a nice six. It was as good as it got for the Hurricanes. Short was bowled the next over as he looked to take on Mitchell McClenaghan, getting a slight inside edge onto his stumps. Ben McDermott was next to go, advancing down the wicket against Sandhu, swiping across the line, and, unsurprisingly, hitting the ball straight up for Jos Buttler to take a nice catch. The Hurricanes were 2/44 after the PowerPlay, and their momentum had stalled.

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Brain fade: George Bailey plays an ill-fated lofted cover drive during the Hurricanes’ collapse.

Then George Bailey went out. Bailey had a good chance to lead from the front even though he looked in poor form. When Fawad Ahmed flighted a ball up, he had many options available, such as trying to hit through a gap along the ground or bunting it down the ground for a single. He chose to go inside out over cover, and was caught on the fence. Arjun Nair removed Matthew Wade the next over, with the out-of-form keeper surrendering meekly with a hard-handed push straight back to the bowler. Cameron Boyce, promoted as a pinch hitter, was nearly stumped first ball and miscued a slog sweep on his second, gifting Ahmed another wicket.

Doolan had witnessed the carnage from the other end, and then decided to join in by playing yet another ill-fated slog and picking out Green perfectly. Clive Rose entered the action and was lucky to survive when he was beaten by Ahmed, with Buttler somehow failing to complete a simple stumping thanks to an inability to take off the bails. Neither Ahmed nor Nair would add to their tallies of two wickets apiece, but their efforts as both hammer and anvil all but killed off the match. The Hurricanes only reached 100 through the efforts of Rose and Jofra Archer, the former showing better technique than most of the specialist batsmen and the latter hitting the ball with plenty of power despite a series of dodgy bats, but they were never going to get close. The end of Mills’ dismal occupation of the crease heralded the cessation of play, but the game had been over for some time.

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In control: Jos Buttler hits another one out of the middle on his way to 67.

The Thunder had built their total on the back of Buttler and Shane Watson, with Watson playing a mature supporting innings while Buttler blasted his way to fifty with some big hitting. Archer removed Kurtis Patterson early courtesy of Bailey’s one-handed diving catch, but Buttler was unfazed as he played himself in before exploding in the twelfth over. Tom Rogers was the unfortunate victim of Buttler’s brutal assault, with four big sixes testing the outer limits of the University of Tasmania Stadium as he moved from 36 to 62 in the space of six balls. He was out shortly afterwards, bowled by Rose as he looked to give himself room, and the innings never reached such lofty heights again. Watson’s innings ended with a senseless piece of running, with the Thunder captain dawdling up the pitch as an outfield throw came in at his end. It cost him a 50, and the Hurricanes closed the innings out well thanks to some great bowling from Archer, Mills and Rose.

None of it mattered, however, as the Hurricanes lodged one of the worst batting performances of the season to raise concerns as to whether they can beat anyone. The Thunder showed signs of improvement, but it remains to be seen whether they can repeat the feat against the sterner opposition they are sure to face further down the track.

Top 5
1. Jos Buttler (Sydney Thunder)
Buttler almost won the game off his own bat, playing himself in well before exploding with a remarkable burst of timing and power to give his side a timely boost. He hit Rogers for a series of massive sixes, and looked like he could easily score a century before he was dismissed. Kept well and took a nice high catch, but made a horrible gaffe to gift Rose a reprieve.
2. Fawad Ahmed (Sydney Thunder)
Ahmed took 2/14 from his four overs in a remarkably consistent spell which all but ended the Hurricanes’ resistance. Bowled perfectly in conjunction with Nair, and was very unlucky not to finish with three after a brilliant spell of bowling. Left the field late, and the Thunder will hope he is still available.
3. Arjun Nair (Sydney Thunder)
Nair bagged a pair of nice wickets to remove Doolan and Wade, and showed his class and variation by spinning the ball both ways and causing massive problems. He wasn’t hit for any boundaries in a four-over spell, and, at 19 years of age, looks to be an exciting prospect for Australian cricket.
4. Jofra Archer (Hobart Hurricanes)
Archer showed a bit of nonchalant class with both bat and ball, hitting it fairly well for an unbeaten 25 and providing some very economical bowling. He extracted sharp bounce from the Launceston pitch, and the only knock on his performance was the excess of nonchalance in the field which led to a dropped catch over the rope for six.
5. Clive Rose (Hobart Hurricanes)
Rose is not really known for his all-round talents, but he unearthed some hitherto undiscovered cricketing prowess to bag a pair of key wickets and play some neat shots in a determined innings of 13. He was the pick of the Hurricanes’ bowlers and showed excellent calmness under pressure to dismiss a rampaging Buttler.

Bravo and White star against lacklustre Hurricanes

Hobart Hurricanes vs Melbourne Renegades
Hobart Hurricanes 164-8 (Short 34, McDermott 34, Doolan 26, Bailey 25, Bravo 28-5) lost to Melbourne Renegades 165-3 (White 79*, Harris 50, Archer 17-2) by 7 wickets at Blundstone Arena

In the corresponding fixture last season, the Melbourne Renegades managed to throw away a near-certain victory, failing to defend a mammoth 222. This time around, they were in cruise control, never looking like losing from the moment the Hobart Hurricanes posted a below-par 164, attaining the target with 9 balls to spare and cruising home on the back of Cameron White’s composed 79 and Dwayne Bravo’s brilliant five-wicket haul. For the Hurricanes, it was a day of missed opportunities, as the Renegades were just a cut above.

It was hard to tell which aspect of the Hurricanes’ play was more disappointing. Their innings was one of opportunities squandered, a fast start giving way to a mediocre finish. D’Arcy Short and Alex Doolan came out of the blocks quickly, hitting Tom Cooper with an impunity that few managed last season and playing some lovely shots. Short had soon found his timing, and the ball was flying off the middle of the bat. A short one from Jack Wildermuth was helped over fine-leg, and he was smashed through the covers when he pitched up. Another excellent cover drive, this time off a Kane Richardson full toss, allowed the Hurricanes to keep building. Then Aaron Finch threw Bravo the ball.

Bravo was the undisputed star of the show. He entered the attack with the Hurricanes cruising on 0/48 from 5, and immediately slowed the scoring rate with his probing slower balls. He gained his first wicket when Doolan slashed at a wide one, providing an easy catch for Brad Hogg. When he returned, in the 14th over, Ben McDermott’s innings came to an end, as the build up of pressure proved too much for a player who had smashed Hogg for three consecutive boundaries just overs before. Bravo’s use of slower balls befitted his vast experience on the T20 stage, and when the Hurricanes needed runs desperately, they just couldn’t get him away. Instead, he got them out, removing Jofra Archer, Cameron Boyce and Matthew Wade in the last over.

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Job well done: Dwayne Bravo celebrates after collecting his fifth wicket.

The rest of the bowlers backed him up well. Hogg, the 46-year-old who came out of retirement when the Big Bash began and had too much fun to stop, removed Short, breaking through his defences and leaving him so plumb that Hogg was celebrating with his trademark boyish enthusiasm before the finger was raised. That was as good as it got for Hogg, but some accurate bowling from Wildermuth and Mohammad Nabi stalled the momentum of McDermott and George Bailey, with Nabi leaving the Hurricanes skipper stranded halfway up the pitch as Tim Ludeman completed an easy stumping. Dan Christian and Wade couldn’t pick up the run rate either, and the Hurricanes were limited to a below par score they never really looked like defending.

Whereas the batting was a disappointment given the strong start, the bowling was just bad. Things started well enough, with Renegades captain Finch falling to Clive Rose with the second ball of the innings, Rose tossing the ball up and taking a top edge which soared into the Hobart sky. Matthew Wade took the catch, setting himself in the middle of the pitch, and the Hurricanes appeared to have a chance. Then White and Marcus Harris ran away with it against some questionable bowling. Tymal Mills, billed as one of the quickest bowlers in the world despite a congenital back condition, managed to land the nine balls of his first over all over the pitch, going for 13 runs. As White steadied the ship with brutal efficiency, Harris provided a touch of class, his crisp cover drive off Rose a particularly neat shot.

White and Harris continued to march along purposefully against the inconsistent Hurricanes attack. Mills was erratic, and while he gradually improved he was not at his best. Aaron Summers, drafted in for his raw pace, bowled like Mitchell Johnson or Shaun Tait on a bad day, routinely hitting speeds around 150 kph but failing to show any consistency or control. Rose was expensive after his perfect start, with White using his feet well to hit him around. Boyce was barely given a chance, making it unclear why they had bothered to pick him in the first place. Short was slapped, and Christian couldn’t find a good area either. The Hurricanes showed few positive signs as White and Harris clinically batted them out of the game.

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Big wicket: Jofra Archer celebrates after picking up the wicket of Tom Cooper.

Archer appeared the only Hurricanes bowler capable of having an impact, and raised faint hopes with a double wicket maiden which saw Harris depart for 50. Archer bowled with poise and control, with a graceful and economical action which makes it look like he is only giving 50%. He was the Hurricanes’ best by a long way, but could not save his side as White and Brad Hodge knocked off the last 48 runs without breaking a sweat. White picked up a deserved not out following a composed and powerful innings and Hodge showed some great form in hitting his second delivery for six and finding the middle with ease. As the game meandered to its eventual conclusion, it was hard to escape the thought that this could be a very long season for the Hurricanes.

Top 5
1. Dwayne Bravo (Melbourne Renegades)
Bravo used his slower balls to devastating effect, compensating for his drop in pace by out-thinking the batsmen and building pressure every time he entered the attack. He took the big wickets of Doolan and McDermott, and concluded the innings with a well-delivered last over that closed out a top-quality spell.
2. Cameron White (Melbourne Renegades)
White was in brilliant form, displaying exemplary patience and excellent power. Combined beautifully with Harris in a partnership of 113, and batted through to the end to keep his wicket intact. His composure under pressure bodes well for the season ahead.
3. Marcus Harris (Melbourne Renegades)
Harris looked more fluent than White, and was in top form as he compiled a very nice 50. His driving was particularly strong, and he looks to be in excellent form. If Finch can get going their opening partnerships could be very damaging.
4. Jofra Archer (Hobart Hurricanes)
Archer bowls with remarkable ease, and deservedly picked up a pair of wickets. Had perfect control over his bowling and was able to extract plenty of bounce from the pitch with his upright bowling action. If he keeps this up, both England and the West Indies will be looking ruefully at his progress.
5. D’Arcy Short (Hobart Hurricanes)
The less that is said about Short’s bowling the better, but he found plenty of form with the bat and looked set for a big score before his untimely dismissal. Hit some very powerful shots on both sides of the wicket, and had the ball flying off the bat.