Start with a bang

Off to a flier… and those boundaries

BBL:03 kicked off with a bang, with the Stars racking up 208  in their first innings, mostly thanks to some big hitting by Englishman Luke Wright (who also chipped in later on with the ball, removing Renegades danger man Aaron Finch). Noticeably though, the boundary ropes at the MCG had been brought in a long way, in general play it wasn’t that noticeable (and honestly I doubt the score would have been much different if they’d pushed them back another 10 metres) but on the wide shots they looked a little ridiculous – especially square of the wicket where it seemed like they were almost 20 metres in from the actual fence. We can only speculate on the actual reasoning, but it appears to have been the Stars choice (it’s their home ground), and they perhaps shouldn’t have done it. But, it didn’t really matter anyway because most of the sixes that Luke Wright and Cameron White bombed cleared both the rope and the actual fence that was many metres beyond it, and the boundaries were the same for both side, the Renegades just didn’t make use of them. Oh yeah, and Cameron White chalked up another 50 for the season.

Thunder on top… for 10 overs

Dave Warner and Usman Khawaja played really well for the first 10 and a bit overs on Saturday night, then the Thunder started to play like the Thunder. Warner and Khawaja both picked up 50s, none of their team mates, including Mike Hussey and Eoin Morgan, made it to double figures – in total their last six batsmen only made 26 between them… extras alone totalled 24. They looked to be on track for an easy 200+ but barely made it to 166, a total that the Sixers then chased with relative ease. The Thunder are still winless since December 23, 2011, and with Warner back on test duty and Khawaja possibly out injured it could be another difficult season for the men in lime green. Its not that they have a bad team, but losing is infectious… and they’re currently suffering through a plague.

Rain, Hale and no shine

Drizzle delayed the start of the Sunday afternoon game in Hobart, resulting in it being reduced to an 8 overs per side affair. English import, and the ICC’s number 1 ranked T20 batsman, Alex Hales took a couple of balls to get sighted and then unloaded on the Hurricanes attack, belting 49 off just 19 balls before being run out just as the rain returned. By this point the Strikers had reached 1/87 in just six overs, but that’s all there would be, they went off for the rain, and didn’t return with the teams sharing the points.

Final Rematch, Lynn hitting bombs.

At 5 for 80-odd the Scorchers looked in trouble, then Mitch Marsh got rolling to lift them to a theoretically defendable total of 151. Then by the time they’d reduced the Heat to 3/22 in 5th over, it looked like they might just do it. Then Chris Lynn stepped in, and took over. He crashed 6 huge sixes on his way to 81 off 53 balls before falling mid-way through the final over of the Heat’s chase. Luckily most of the hard work had already been done, and Ben Cutting was able to finish things off. With the ball, Cutting and McDermott picked up 3 each for the Heat, while the men in orange were led by Coulter-Nile and the ever-young Brad Hogg who also collected 3 a piece. It turned out to be the only close finish in the first round, which you’d kind of expect from the two finalists from the previous year. But for me the highlight was the crispness of Lynn’s hitting, and how still he was as he proceeded to hit bowlers back over their heads. Great to watch.

New season new home

Channel 10 spent big to secure the BBL broadcasting rights prior to the summer, and they’ve brought in Ricky Ponting and Adam Gilchrist and lured Damien Fleming and Mark Waugh across from Fox Sports to share the commentating duties. There were a few early teething issues, things like occasionally reading out the wrong score (which, to be fair, the other networks are also guilty of), and the odd poorly thought out silence filler, ie. when Mark Howard asked Victorian, and Stars board member, Damien Fleming if he was a Renegades man or a Stars man. I also noticed several sponsored segments where they didn’t actually appear to show the sponsors logo. The “Holden team lineups”, not a Holden logo in sight. The “AAMI half time break”, no logo. The “Bunnings instant replay”, only seemed to show the logo 50% of the time. As for the new guys, Punter seemed relatively comfortable in the comm box, although he does speak quite fast when he get’s excited, while there’s something that still feels a little force in Gilly’s commentating style. Overall the commentating, awkward boundary interviews aside, was acceptable, as was the rest of the broadcast – and it sounds like the ratings have been good to.

One hit wonders

Thanks to the Ashes having already been gift-wrapped in Perth a little over a week ago, Cricket Australia made a couple of the Test contingent available for the first round of BBL games. Warner clocked up a quick 50, Smith made 20-odd and Bailey stood in the field for 6 overs. Reserve fast men Bollinger and Coulter-Nile were also released back to their respective BBL teams, Doug was on the receiving end of some rapid Strikers batting in their (eventually) washed out clash in Hobart, while Coults picked up a trio of wickets as the Scorchers fell to the Heat. Of the five Dougy and Coulter-Nile should probably play a few more games (unless they are rotated into the test side), but I doubt we’ll see Warner, Smith or Bailey again in BBL:03.

Players of the round

Jackson Bird for his 4/31 that ripped through the Renegades, and Chris Lynn for his 81 off 53 that got the Heat across the line in the rematch of last year’s final.