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.


No contest as Renegades breeze past Heat

Melbourne Renegades vs Brisbane Heat
Brisbane Heat 132-8 (Ross 48, Wildermuth 16-3, Hogg 25-2, Bravo 27-2) lost to Melbourne Renegades 137-3 (Cooper 52*, White 51, Shadab 17-2) by 7 wickets at Etihad Stadium

Brendon McCullum is 36, and has entered the twilight of his career. He is the Brisbane Heat’s oldest player, but, if the events of their clash with the Melbourne Renegades are anything to go by, he is still the biggest fish in the Heat’s pond. 8 balls into the match, Tom Cooper, with his flat, non-turning off-breaks, made the breakthrough, and the Heat never recovered. McCullum attacked Cooper with his usual aggression, but the ball slipped through his sweep shot and knocked into his stumps. Cooper raised his arms, as much a gesture of surprise as triumph, and the Renegades marched to a comfortable and satisfying win in front of their home fans.

Jack Wildermuth’s introduction in the fourth over completely killed off the Heat’s innings. Sam Heazlett attempted to follow up a lofted four with another big shot, and the resultant chance hung in the air long enough for Aaron Finch to send him on his way. The run rate ground to a halt, and Jimmy Peirson’s poor decision to go for a slog resulted in the off stump being uprooted as the Heat fell to 3/29 at the conclusion of the PowerPlay. Alex Ross looked in nice form as the Heat looked to mount their recovery, and Marnus Labuschagne had luck on his side, but neither could push the pace enough to threaten the Renegades. When Wildermuth returned to light up Labuschagne’s stumps with a very nice delivery, and the game was all but over.

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Swing-and-a-miss: Alex Ross loses his off stump at the hands of Dwayne Bravo.

Ross went on to make 48 before being bowled by Dwayne Bravo, and Ben Cutting hit some lusty blows before holing out to a Brad Hogg full toss. Hogg then removed Shadab Khan two balls later with an excellent wrong-un, and the Heat limped over the finish line to reach 132 with a bottom-edged four from the last ball. It was never going to be enough. Shadab gave his side a glimmer of hope with an excellent spell of PowerPlay bowling which saw Finch edge one through to Peirson and Marcus Harris, so fluent in the Renegades’ opener against the Hurricanes, clean bowled. His wicket brought Cooper to the wicket to join Cameron White.

White had been dominant in the first game of the season, and showed no sign of letting up here. He was such a soothing presence at this crease it felt as if he could bat days without being dismissed, and he was never overawed even as the Heat built some pressure with their tight bowling. He started to find form with a pair of crisp flicks against the bowling of Mark Steketee, and hit a nice four when Brendan Doggett bowled him a short, slow delivery on a free hit. Later in the over he hit a beautiful square drive, and looked like he would get the runs on his own. He slowed, and for the next few overs he only found the boundary sparingly, hitting a couple of big sixes against the otherwise economical Mitchell Swepson but mainly dealing in singles. He was in complete control as the Renegades marched clinically towards their target.

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Men in form: Cameron White (left) and Tom Cooper meet in the middle of the pitch during their 89-run stand.

Cooper’s innings was completely different but just as important. Unlike White, who came out looking as if he was starting on 100, Cooper scratched around and looked out of form. He crawled to two off ten balls, and was barely getting the ball off the square. He found some timing as the innings went on, but his progress was still painfully slow. It was a well-played ramp shot which gave his innings the boost it needed, the ball running away to the fine leg boundary to give him his first four. It was the twelfth over. From that point, Cooper began to find the middle with almost every shot. He smacked Doggett for six over mid-wicket, and took three runs with a lofted drive after McCullum attempted to flick the ball back and missed it completely. He used all of his power and all of his touch as he began to accelerate, hitting some beautiful drives when Cutting entered the attack to all but seal the deal.

White departed at the end of Cutting’s seventeenth over, but by that point the pursuit of 133 had become a formality. Brad Hodge hit Steketee for six with his third ball, and Cooper closed it out with a pull shot over the fence two balls later, bringing up a well-deserved fifty and closing out a comprehensive victory for a Renegades side who are on the top of their game. The Heat, minus Chris Lynn and Joe Burns, looked fragile, and need to work to ensure that this does not undermine their season.

Top 5
1. Tom Cooper (Melbourne Renegades)
Cooper was nowhere near his best at the start of his innings, but he battled through it admirably and finished with a very nice fifty to guide his team home. By the end he was hitting everything out of the middle in an innings which bodes well for the season ahead. He did well to claim the big wicket of McCullum with his darts.
2. Jack Wildermuth (Melbourne Renegades)
Wildermuth was at his best against his old team, bowling with pace and control to put the Heat under pressure and run through the top order. He showed plenty of skill and deserved to come out of it with three big wickets in a strong bowling performance.
3. Cameron White (Melbourne Renegades)
White is in brilliant form at the moment and it showed once again, as he settled any nerves the Renegades might have had with his reassuring presence at the crease. He marshalled his side through the chase with excellent technique and even better temperament, and would have been disappointed to depart so close to the target.
4. Alex Ross (Brisbane Heat)
Ross was the sole reason that the Heat lodged anything resembling a defendable target. He came in with the innings in turmoil, and he didn’t panic while playing a mature innings with plenty of self-control. He showed that he can be the perfect counterpoint to the aggression of his teammates, but needs some support to play this role.
5. Shadab Khan (Brisbane Heat)
The best of the Heat’s bowlers, he kept the runs down with his flat, darting leg-spinners and manage to claim the scalps of both openers. His spell gave the Heat something of a chance, but they couldn’t capitalise. If he can bowl like that regularly he will be very difficult to get away.

Sydney: The Sydney Sixers collapsed at the hands of a top-class bowling effort from the Perth Scorchers, who were shaky throughout the chase but came out on top thanks to a 27-ball 52 from Ashton Turner.

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