The entertainment started on Friday, December 20, and concluded two days later. It was not the smoothest opening round, with the Hobart Hurricanes and Adelaide Strikers match washed out in Hobart.
Last season’s grand final re-match proved quite the spectacle. Reigning champions the Brisbane Heat reeled in the Perth Scorchers total with just two balls to go, Chris Lynn the star.
Here’s a summary of the games, highlights and round one stars:
Having been demolished in both Melbourne derbies in BBL|02, the Stars were hungry for victory. Strong recruitment and retention meant the green men went into the opening match as top dogs.
The Renegades had Aaron Finch at the top of the order, but the red army had little answer to the MCG onslaught. Stars English import Luke Wright showed the 25,266 at the ground who was boss, smashing a stunning 70 from 32 balls.
In Twenty20, one wicket can bring several, but the Stars never let that happen, posting a Big Bash League record of 6/208. The Renegades targeted the bowling early, but there was always a hint the momentum would shift.
When Wright had Finch sent back to the pavilion, Jackson Bird took over the bowling charge in superb style. Jos Buttler carved out a stylish 49, but it was the towering sixes from Wright and Cameron White in the beginning that sent a strong message to the Renegades and the rest of the competition the Stars ultimate goal was the BBL trophy.
Melbourne Stars won by 76 runs
Having gone 13 straight matches without a win, a new look Thunder side took to the field on Saturday, and the impact was immediate. David Warner and Usman Khawaja brought up a lightning fast opening century stand with clean hitting and strategy.
Once Warner was undone by Mark Cosgrove, the platform unravelled. Khawaja bravely fought in but his next two partners came and went without much of a puff. A big positive was the total score – 6/166. It is the highest score in Thunder history, and the Sixers had their work cut out for them.
What do you do when chasing eight runs an over from the start? Enter Nic Maddinson. A punishing 61 from 40 balls, including a couple of towering sixes, combined with some lusty hitting from Ravi Bopara and Moses Henriques, allowed the Sixers to chase down the target with 10 balls to spare.
Brett Lee was back to bowling thunderbolts, while Thunder counterpart Dirk Nannes had plenty ducking and weaving.
Sydney Sixers won by 6 wickets
Hobart Hurricanes v Adelaide Strikers
Rain may have stopped a result, but it did not prevent Englishman Alex Hales from living up to his “Halestorm” nickname. In the space of six overs, nine balls were sent to the fence, and one over it, as Hales smashed 49 from just 19 balls, while Klinger posted 32.
A scorecard of 1/87 made for impressive reading, but it leaves both sides on one point with a no result. The Strikes, however, have recruited Hales and will not look back.
Brisbane Heat v Perth Scorchers
Match of the round must go to last year’s runners up and champions. Alister McDermott and Ben Cutting ripped through the Scorchers batting line-up, but Marsh brothers Shaun (37) and Mitch (57) stood tall. On a hard Gabba pitch, 151 looked a reasonable total.
The chase became complicated when Luke Pomersbach, Craig Kieswetter and Joe Burns all fell within the first five overs. One person dominated thereafter, and that was Chris Lynn.
Putting on a clinic, Lynn stunned the Gabba with a mesmerising display of powerful hitting, finish with 81 from just 53 balls. What looked to be the Scorchers saviour never came; while Lynn lost his batting partners, he kept going. Alfonso Thomas and Nathan Coulter Nile bore the brunt of the batting blitz.
Brad Hogg pulled off a stunning catch in the deep to dismiss Lynn, but Cutting hammered away a boundary on the very next ball to secure an enthralling victory for the Heat.
Brisbane Heat won by 3 wickets
Highlights and Views
One thing that struck a chord with the match I went to (the Melbourne Derby) was the amount of entertainment and giveaways occurring throughout the course of the game.
Twenty20 cricket is attempting to pull more families, children, and perhaps people more interested in other sports to the venue for three hours of entertainment and sport itself. However, it seems to inundate the play too much. Fans are both turning and standing to look for the next beach ball or celebrity that might be doing some funny act.
When that happens, those who have come to watch the cricket get distracted. I am all for the fun, and the games – just not the over-boisterous crowd.
After round one, both the Stars and the Sixers have shown they want to climb back up the BBL ladder. The Heat will need to back up their opening win with an all-round performance against the Hurricanes and then the Renegades two days later.
The Sydney Thunder showed signs that they could gel together, but they will not have David Warner at their disposal in game two.
Overall an exciting first round, especially on new television station Channel 10 – where the ratings went above one million viewers in almost every game.
Round 2 begins on Boxing Day