Sydney Thunder opener Alex Hales has refuted suggestions his back-tracking fielding on the edge of circle is against the spirit of the game, as his side eliminated Hobart from the BBL.
We’re on the downhill slope for the ninth season of the Big Bash League, with 32 of the 61 scheduled games this campaign now behind us.
And it means the remaining games are only going to grow in importance for those currently in the top five, and those who wish they were.
Another loss for the Melbourne Renegades hasn’t helped their cause at all. I’d already outlined how their defence was in trouble after six losses. A seventh and eighth since then isn’t good news at all.
Perth and Hobart finished with a win and a loss respectively last night, and both results will have a big bearing on how the Scorchers and Hurricanes fare from here.
Perth – and Mitch Marsh in particular – batted superbly to post 3-213. The way they accelerated in the last five overs was especially impressive, adding a whopping 87.
At 3-126 at the end of the 15th over, the Scorchers would have set their sights on the 180-190 range. Marsh hit two fours and seven sixes – including three from the last three balls – in the last five overs himself.
They then backed it up with a great bowling effort to keep Brisbane to 8-179.
The win means Perth are actually out of the bottom three for the moment, sneaking ahead of Adelaide into fifth spot. The result certainly keeps their playoff hopes alive. But their schedule is horrendous, not so much in who they play but where they play them.
Having played last night in Perth, the Scorchers now head to Hobart to play the Hurricanes on Monday, then they’re back home to host the Melbourne Stars on Wednesday, and then both sides head to Melbourne for the return game next Saturday. That’s at least three flights this week.
But the quality of the win over Brisbane will give them huge confidence, and while they’re winning, they won’t be complaining.
Hobart’s four-wicket loss to the Sydney Thunder last night was their fourth loss in the last five games going back to December 30. Although they’re still only a point behind Adelaide, the Strikers can extend their lead and consolidate their top-five standing with a win this afternoon over the Renegades in Adelaide.
The Hurricanes’ big issue is that five of their six games are going to be really tough. They avoid the ladder-leading Stars, but face the Sixers on Thursday after first hosting Perth at Bellerive Oval.
As well as the Scorchers, Hobart face Adelaide twice, and the Thunder again as well.
And these are difficult games because they’re effectively worth double points. Two points you collect against other mid-table teams is two points they can’t get.
With six points to their name after eight games, the Hurricanes will need to win at least four of the remaining six games to get to 14 points, which might be enough to sneak as high as fourth. We can already see it on the table now, but with those mid-table teams taking points off each other over the back half of the season, I can see an even more sizeable gap opening up between the top two teams and the other three teams qualifying for the finals.
Hobart’s issue now is whether they can do enough to rise from the bottom three into the next three.
The Melbourne Renegades are all but done in terms of their title defence. Eight losses out of 14 games would make a defence difficult in any season, but losing your first eight on the trot pretty much kills it dead.
I thought the Renegades might have still had Aaron Finch and Kane Richardson for the Melbourne derby on Friday night prior to the Australian team heading to India, but that plane left on Friday morning.
And they were both missed terribly.
After an opening stand of 86 from 11 overs between Shaun Marsh and Marcus Harris deputising for Finch, 7-168 felt like it was 20 runs short.
Losing 5-22 in the last four overs didn’t help this cause, and you also have to question the wisdom of batting Sam Harper so low after he had been batting in the top three.
And in fairness, the mood Glenn Maxwell was in, another 20 might not have helped the Renegades anyway.
The lack of penetration without Richardson also became apparent for the reigning champs, who relied on an attack that claimed just 13 wickets between them coming into Friday’s clash. Four of the seven Renegades bowlers used on Friday hadn’t taken a wicket at all in BBL09.
In seven games prior to the return leg of the Melbourne derby, the Renegades had only taken 30 wickets and were yet to bowl a side out. Richardson has taken ten of those 30. After Friday night’s game, the Renegades have taken just five Stars wickets across the two games.
They’ll say the right things, and can certainly take on the spoiling role over their remaining six games, but we can essentially run the red line through the Renegades for BBL09.