Today saw the final of the 12th instalment of the Big Bash League. The two teams to make it were Perth Scorchers who did it the easy way, winning the league stage and then beating Sydney Sixers to qualify for the final, and Brisbane Heat who did it the hard way, sneaking into fifth and last qualifying slot (I am glad to report by the way that this is the last occasion on which five teams out of eight will qualify for the knock outs), and then winning three straight games to join the Scorchers in the final. Perth had home advantage for the final.
THE BRISBANE HEAT INNINGS
Brisbane Heat won the bat flip and decided to bat first. The first two overs were extraordinary – in the first Josh Brown scored 13, with three fours, all off the edge and with little or no control of the shot and all off decent deliveries. He added another 12 off the first five balls of the second, in more orthodox fashion and then mistimed a drive off the sixth ball of the over and was caught – 25-1 after two overs, Brown 25 (12). The second wicket pairing then had a decent partnership and at the halfway stage Heat were 86-1, and looking at 180-190, with possibly half an eye even on 200. Then came the five over spell which in retrospect cost Heat the match – in overs 11-15, which included their Power Surge (an unmitigated disaster for them – 8-2 from those two overs) they managed just 33 runs and lost two wickets. They had a decent last five overs, and ultimately had 175 to defend.
THE PERTH SCORCHERS RESPONSE
Little went right for Scorchers in the first 10 overs, and they were 62-3 at the halfway stage. However, they had a superb third quarter to their innings, ending the 15th over, which was also their first Power Surge over, on 119-3, exactly where Heat had been at the same stage of their innings. Two quick wickets, those of the two set batters, the second a horrendous run out seemed to have killed their hopes stone dead, but then Cooper Connolly joined Nick Hobson, the latter culpable in the run out referred to earlier. Connolly, still in his teens, was especially impressive, and between them the sixth wicket pair reduced the ask to 10 off the final over. Michael Neser, at the opposite end of the experience spectrum to Connolly, bowled it. Connolly took a single off the first ball, Hobson just cleared the boundary off the second, and then hit a throughly convincing four off the third and Scorchers had won the match and were BBL winners for a fifth time. This edition of the BBL has been patchy (and some would say that such a description is generous on my part) but the final was match worthy of such an occasion. The vast majority of T20 matches, enjoyable as they often are while they happen, are distinctly unmemorable, a charge that cannot be levelled at this one. A full scorecard can be viewed here.
PHOTOGRAPHS INCLUDING AN ADDITION TO ‘BIRDS SEEN IN 2023’
Today, on my way home from an expedition to King’s Lynn town centre I saw a Little Egret dabbling at the edge of the Gaywood River (in the section between Kettlewell Lane and Loke Road, which I often pass as it is close to a route that scores highly on ‘main road avoidance’, crossing a couple but not involving spending any more time than that alongside such a road). I start my usual sign off with new sighting…