Yesterday was the first day of 2017, and while others celebrated the completion of 2016 and recovered from hangovers of the previous night, me, my grandfather, and two cousins went to the MCG for the first Melbourne Derby of BBL|06 (and while we were at it, we saw the second half of the women’s game).
I was picked up at around 1pm, while I was in the middle of tweeting BBL Elo ratings, and after picking up another cousin and moving along the Hurstbridge line, we made it to the Melbourne Cricket Ground, two-thirds of the way through the innings of the Melbourne Stars’ innings in the WBBL, at which point they were 0-84, with captain Meg Lanning on her way to another half century. The Renegades bowled well through the rest of the innings, restricting them for 3-127 and giving themselves a fair chance of a victory.
During the innings break, which was slightly longer than normal due to rain (one over was knocked off the Renegades’ chase, reducing the target by five), we paid a visit to the MCC Library, which is where I’ll no doubt spend hours at a time if I continue on with being a journalist. We arrived back just in time to see Rachel Preist carting the Stars bowlers around, scoring a quick 31, including seven fours, before rain arrived again after 4.3 overs. In the prolonged delay, we visited the MCC museum, and made it back in time to see the Renegades easily make their way to a victory, winning by nine wickets on the Duckworth-Lewis method.
Melbourne Renegades 1-52 (Priest 31, Molineux 18*, Sciver 1-6) d Melbourne Stars 3-127 (Lanning 64, Inglis 38, Goodwin 1-29) by 9 wickets (D/L)
Since there was still going to be an hour and a half until the start of the men’s clash, I went back to the library, where I whiled away the time taking every fact sheet I could, reading the latest publication from the Association of Cricket Statisticians and Historians, and browsing the starting pages of Emma John’s work Following On (the bits I saw were good, I’ll have to find a copy in a library somewhere). And when that was done, after eating a pie, I settled in to watch the sixth BBL game of my cricket-watching career.
The Six BBL Games I’ve Been To
- BBL|01: Melbourne Stars 5-167 (Hussey 51, Wade 32*, Shahid Afridi 2-20) d Melbourne Renegades 3-58 (Maxwell 28, McDonald 11*, Warne 1-4) by 11 runs (D/L). I can’t remember much about this one, for multiple reasons, including I was nine years old at the time and it rained most of the day. I think that we left when the Renegades were rained off, and found out the result on the train journey home.
- BBL|02: Melbourne Renegades 2-168 (Finch 111*, Rohrer 34*, Bird 1-29) d Melbourne Stars 5-167 (Wright 53, Hussey 42, O’Brien 2-27) by 8 wickets. This was the game where I thought I was vindicated for choosing the Melbourne Renegades to support. Aaron Finch’s 111* was a masterclass in T20 batting, and it bode well for the Renegades throughout the rest of the season. We choked in the semi-finals.
- BBL|03: Melbourne Stars 7-208 (Wright 70, White 53, Rimmington 2-34) d Melbourne Renegades 132 (Buttler 49, Finch 32, Bird 4-31) by 76 runs. I was hoping that the second season-opening Melbourne Derby would have a similar result to the first. This was not to be. The Stars made, at the time, the biggest total in Big Bash League history, and William Sheridan bowled the worst I’d ever seen, hit for 45 off his first two overs (and then getting a wicket when he had to complete Jayde Herrick’s over). To top it all off, they bowled us all out, while we went home halfway through it.
- BBL|04: Melbourne Stars 7-154 (Maxwell 66, Pietersen 49, Stokes 2-22) d Melbourne Renegades 6-153 (Wade 71, Beaton 34, Faulkner 3-19). This game was completely unremarkable until the end of it. The Melbourne Renegades scored what looked like an easy target, right up until about the sixteenth over. At this point, some great bowling from Fawad Ahmed, Shakib al Hasan, Nathan Rimmington, and Ben Stokes meant that they needed six off six balls. Some poor fielding and good shots meant that three run was required off three balls. On the third last ball, one of the batsmen was run out on review going for a third, meaning that one run was needed off two balls. John Hastings was run out for a diamond duck the next ball, and on the final ball, Nathan Rimmington would have run out Tom Triffit, but his foot had hit the stumps just before. It was absolutely insane, and you should look it up on YouTube.
- BBL|05: Melbourne Stars d Melbourne Renegades. I wrote a report on this game! You can read it on Statscrunch and on The Footy Almanac.
- BBL|06. I wrote a report on this one as well! You’re reading it right now.
The Melbourne Stars won the toss and chose to field, thus giving the team in red the opportunity to bat in front of 71,102, including Watermelon Boy. The Renegades raised eyebrows, including mine, by placing bowler Sunil Narine at the top of the order, opening with Aaron Finch. This did seem to work, with Narine making 21 off 13 deliveries and setting it up nicely as part of a 38-run, 22-ball partnership. When Kevin Pietersen took the difficult catch to dismiss him, Marcus Harris came in, with a less succcesful partnership. Him and Finch were out in quick succession, and the Renegades were 3-65 off 8.1, and looked in trouble. Tom Cooper and Cameron White, batting at fourth and fifth, scored a fine seventy-two run partnership to consolidate the Renegades’ position. The two batsman seemed to take it in turns to go on the offensive, and when Cooper was caught by James Faulkner for 36, the Renegades looked to be in a good position. White scored eighteen of the last twenty runs (the exceptions were a run to Trent Lawford and a bizarre bye, when non-striker White was three-quarters of the way up the pitch by the time it had reached the wicketkeeper) to record 64*, and had spearheaded the Renegades to 171, a defendable target.
Every Player Ranked
- Cameron White (MELR). 64* off 43. White, the former Stars player, made a fine 64* that helped push the Renegades up to a winning score.
- Sunil Nairine (MELR). 21 off 13, 4-0-0-26. A surprisingly succesful opening batsman, Narine’s economical bowling helped the Renegades to a victory. Three run outs off his last over.
- Brad Hogg (MELR). 4-0-3-22. Hogg, who is closer to my grandfather’s age than to mine, was judged man of the match for this performance. If White set up the win, Hogg sealed it.
- Tom Cooper (MELR). 36 off 25, 1-0-1-5. As well as keeping the score ticking over in the middle overs, Cooper bowled Glenn Maxwell in the first over to give the Renegades a good start.
- Luke Wright (MELS). 45 off 40. Possibly the only Stars batsman to give the chase a good shot, Wright couldn’t do it alone.
- Aaron Finch (MELR). 30 off 24, 2 catches. Once again proved his captaincy worth at the top of the order, and a good fielding performance to add to it.
- James Faulkner (MELS). 25 off 24, 4-0-1-19, 1 catch. One of the few Stars players with a good all-round performance.
- Marcus Stoinis (MELS). 18* off 12, 3-0-1-24. Showed stability at one end in the chase, but ran two of his partners out.
- Kevin Pietersen (MELS). 15 off 8, 1 catch. His quick runscoring should have been an example for the rest of the team, but needed to build his innings. Took a nice catch.
- Adam Zampa (MELS). 7 off 4, 3-0-1-26. Had a very brief cameo when batting, and bowled pretty well.
- Michael Beer (MELS). 7* off 3, 3-0-21-0. Didn’t get out at the end of the innings and was one of the more economical bowlers for the Stars.
- David Hussey (MELS). 20 off 13. Good batting in the top order.
- Sam Harper (MELS). 2 off 2, 1 stumping. Let through an amusing bye, but through no fault of his own and kept solidly otherwise.
- Peter Nevill (MELR). No tangible impact on the match, but kept well.
- Callum Ferguson (MELR). See Nevill.
- Chris Tremain (MELR). 3-0-1-30. Mostly down here for his eleven ball over, as he was alright otherwise.
- Marcus Harris (MELR). 9 off 10. Could have made the victory even more comfortable if he had performed well at number three.
- Cameron Stevenson (MELR). 2-0-1-21. Fair bowling, but not much otherwise.
- Ben Hilfenhaus (MELS). 1 off 1, 3-0-33-0. Unlucky to be run out by Stoinis, but should have bowled better.
- Scott Boland (MELS). 1 off 1, 4-0-1-44. Got ran out when he didn’t need to be, and leaked runs when bowling.
- Glenn Maxwell (MELS). 1 off 3. A disappointment at the top of the order. Getting bowled by a nutmeg off Tom Cooper set the tone for the Stars’ innings.
- Trent Lawford (MELR). 4* off 5, 4-0-0-47. Didn’t contribute much with the bat and the least economical bowler on the ground. He was playing his fourth T20 in six days, though.
Glenn ‘Big Show’ Maxwell and Luke Wright walked out to bat, with the expectation of most of the crowd on their shoulders. They had a good chance to keep up the Stars undefeated run and set themselves for the season ahead.
Any chance of this ended on the fourth ball, when Maxwell went for a huge swing and was nutmegged by Tom Cooper’s spin bowling. This would set the tone for the Stars innings, with Kevin Pietersen scoring quickly before being caught backward of square by Finch and David Hussey doing similar, but being bowled by Brad Hogg. (He was bowled shortly after a rain delay, which changed the target from 172 off 20 to 159 off 18).
James Faulkner and Wright scored 57 runs in their fourth-wicket partnership, going well throughout the middle overs to give the Stars hope, with their 3-105 after 13 overs being actually better than the Renegades’ 3-101 at the same point.
From there, things started going wrong in hilarious manners.
The fourteenth over was bowled by Chris Tremain, and, even if it was an attempt to recreate the eight-ball overs of seasons past, was overdoing it. He bowled a clear wide off the first ball, and the second/first ball was even worse, being both too wide and too long, causing a no-ball. The third/first ball, the free hit, went for a dot. This led him to the fourth/second ball, which was another wide, followed by another for the fifth/second.
On the sixth/second ball, he finally got a wicket, with Faulkner hitting it straight to Finch at long-on. It would have been a wide if he had have missed, too. To complete the over, the seventh/third was a single to Wright, the eighth/fourth was a single to new batsman Marcus Stoinis, the ninth/fifth was yet another wide, the tenth/fifth was a dot, and the eleventh/sixth was another run to Wright.
The next over was bowled by Brad Hogg, and took both Wright and the man who replaced him, wicketkeeper Harper. In the space of seventeen/twelve balls, the Strikers had lost three wickets, and it wasn’t over yet.
Trent Lawford nearly had another wicket, also caught by Finch, but it was a no-ball, and the Stars got some much needed runs. In Narine’s fourth over, the second last, three batsman were run out: Adam Zampa (slipped when sent back by Stoinis), Ben Hilfenhaus (wound up at the same end as Stoinis) and Scott Boland (comfortably beaten by Cameron Stevenson’s throw). The Stars didn’t look like they would make the end of their eighteen overs.
Lawford bowled the last over, and would have had the final wicket if he had had the ball in his hands at the time, but Michael Beer’s valiant efforts weren’t enough to stop the Melbourne Renegades from earning a deserved victory.
And I’ll end with a stat from Ric Finlay:
Melbourne Renegades 4-171 (White 64*, Cooper 36, Faulkner 1-19) d Melbourne Stars 9-151 (Wright 45, Faulkner 21, Hogg 3-22) by 7 runs (D/L)
Image ©Cricket Australia/Getty Images.