BBL 05 is upon us, and I have to say that I am more pumped for it this year than any of the previous four.
As a purist I hold test cricket as the pinnacle, but there is no denying the product that has been slowly perfected over the first four attempts that has become The Big Bash League. I tip my hat to Cricket Australia for how it has set up the BBL. Moving it to the Christmas holidays was a stroke of genius.
I will admit that at first, I didn’t like the break in Shield Cricket. Actually, I still don’t. As time has progressed on T20 cricket, I can see why it was a necessity to force a place for it in the schedule. It’s just unfortunate that the domestic games mirrors the international market too. The long formats are losing fans, and T20 is sucking new fans into cricket at a rate that can’t be ignored. Come early January when the BBL is starting to reach its climax, there is no doubting the level of excitement amongst cricket fans. It feels like the franchises have been around for longer than four years.
I am currently living in Western Australia, and if you want to get to Scorchers match, you have to be quick. My first Scorches game was the semi-final against a Shane Warne led Melbourne Stars two years ago at the WACA. The game sold out in no time at all. I’m not sure if public tickets lasted even an hour or two. I had decided to take my Irish mate with me to his second game of cricket ever (his first was also with me, but was Ricky Ponting’s last test v South Africa at the WACA).
I’m not sure if anyone remembers that match, but I’ll try to give you a run down.
The Stars batted first in a rain effected affair, and set a formidable total. At a strike rate of a tick more than 10/over they finished with 183 off their 18 overs; two short due to the rain. Warney promoted Cameron White’s 88 (53) to open the batting and he took the place apart. When he was joined at the crease by Brad Hodge 70 (43) it looked like the score could have finished at anything. To the Stars delight, the Scorchers seemed to be bowling pies. Even the reliable Brad Hogg was getting carted to all ends, albeit with a slippery ball. White took 26 off one of his overs alone. Then, Michael Beer backed it up by bowling full tosses at Hodge and got the treatment he deserved too. Then, once the carnage was finished the rain set in again, reducing the target to 139 off 14 overs.
Enter Michael Hussey.
Its been well documented that after Michael Bevan perfected the finishers role in the ODI format that Hussey was the next generation. There is literally no better man to come to crease at that stage of the game. I think the Scorchers still needed 38 off 4.3 overs.
Hussey just did what Hussey does. Controlled the game, made it look easy and made the most of his life line with only a few balls to spare.
It all came down to needing 4 off the last 2 balls….Voges on strike and Mr Cricket (Michael Hussey) at the other end…
Dot ball…. 4 off the last ball required…..
Warne makes field changes to keep the pressure, protects the boundary….
Last ball, Voges swings and misses, through to the keeper they run a single anyway. The umpire calls no-ball because of Warne’s fielding changes, he hasn’t got enough men inside the circle.
That leaves Hussey needing 2 off what is now the last ball which he promptly smacks to the boundary for good measure, sending the WACA into an absolute frenzy.
That moment is one of my all-time favourite live sporting highlights. I remember the grandstand exploding with pure passion. Kids with their parents, mates with their mates, drunk or sober everyone was immediately looking for someone to hug.
What a moment. I get shivers writing about it.
There was so much drama throughout the match with White showing no respect for the bowlers, and Hodge showing why he could still be playing for Australia. Marsh and Voges answering back on their home turf with the weight of 20,000 fans on their shoulders. Throw in a couple of rain delays for fun and in his last BBL match, Warne didn’t bowl a single over!!
This scene has been repeated time and time again, all around the world since T20 exploded. All in the space of three hours… After work.
While test cricket will never fade as my number one, how good is The Big Bash! Pump up everyone.
C’mon Scorchers, back to back will do just fine.