A Topsy-Turvy Melbourne Derby

A look at today’s Melbourne derby in the Big Bash League plus some photographs.

This morning’s live BBL radio commentary saw the two Melbourne sides, Renegades and Stars face one another. Stars following Heat’s win earlier were languishing at the bottom of the heap, Renegades one of a number of sides battling for qualification slots (Only Perth Scorchers and Sydney Sixers are genuinely comfortably placed to qualify).

THE RENEGADES INNINGS

Renegades batted first, and they started dreadfully, managing just 17-1 from their four overs of opening Power Play. They began to recover in overs 5-10, reaching 63-3 at the halfway stage of their innings. The second half of their innings was a massive improvement, a well timed Power Surge continuing the recovery, and then a magnificent late innings from Jonathan Wells helping to boost their final total to 161-7.

THE STARS RESPONSE

Stars began their reply sensationally, passing 80, with all their wickets standing in just the eighth over. Once the first wicket fell however, they were unable to maintain the momentum, and began to lose wickets at regular intervals. Not even the assistance of two balls hitting the closed roof of the stadium and being thus awarded six a piece did much for the second half of the Stars innings. A succession of overs in which runs weren’t scored and wickets fell ultimately saw the Stars needing 12 from the final over to win. Nick Larkin, the sole remaining batter of any substance, made a complete and utter mess of playing that final over. He declined singles off the first two balls, wishing to keept the strike for himself, but then took the single off the third, leaving a tailender on strike with 11 needed off three balls. A run out off the fourth ball did at least get Larkin back on strike, but 11 were now needed off two balls. Larkin hit the first for four. The final ball of the match was full, just wide of the stumps, but not enough so to be called a wide, and Larkin ridiculously failed even to get bat to it, the resultant dot giving Renegades victory by six runs, boosting their qualification hopes and pretty much exterminating such qualification hopes as Stars had still retained. Arguably Stars were favourites to win right until the start of the 19th over of their innings, at which point they needed 15. Good teams go all out to break the back of things with an over to spare in these circumstances, and it was really this over, with only three runs coming it from it that killed the Stars. This loss will be hard to recover from because Stars will know that they should have been comfortable winners.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

Miscellany

London Underground at 160 years old and a couple of cricket bits, plus some photographs.

I have a number of things to post about, and will cover them in order.

LONDON UNDERGROUND 160

On January the 10th 2023 London Underground, the oldest underground railway system in the world, turned 160. From a modest seven stations when what was then called the Metropolitan Railway opened (this section of track is now part of the Hammersmith & City and Circle lines, but only Great Portland Street to Farringdon feature today’s Metropolitan line (the Metropolitan line platforms at Baker Street, two terminal platforms and two through platforms are later additions after the network began to expand, while platforms 5-6 have been restored to look as close to the 1863 originals as feasible) the system has grown to almost 300 stations and over 250 miles of track. After the initial opening, the biggest development was the development of electric locomotives, which enabled the opening of lines running further below ground and built with less surface level disruption, making use of the blue clay on which London sits and the Greathead Shield. The first deep level tube line, the City & South London Railway, now part of the Northern line, opened in 1890.

Big Bash League

Yesterday (I missed today’s game because of an important meeting) Brisbane Heat took on Perth Scorchers. Heat looked set for a formidable total when they reached the halfway stage of their innings at 80-2, but a disastrous third quarter of the innings, including a Power Surge that they took at a sensible time but failed miserably to cash in on yielded 25-2, and even with a decent final quarter of their innings they mustered 155 from their 20 overs, respectable but not the truly formidable score that looked on at halfway. Scorchers began poorly in response, managing only 25-2 in the opening four overs, but Heat then blundered, entrusting the fifth over to part time leggie Marnus Labuschagne. No fewer than 20 runs were plundered from that over. Even so, at the halfway stage of the chase Scorchers were still fractionally behind the rate, being 75-2, needing 81 off the last ten. It was the third quarter of the Scorcher’s allocation that killed the game – where Heat had scored 25-2 from overs 11-15, Scorchers, who also took their Power Surge in this period, and in their case made excellent use of it, scored 60-0 from overs 11-15. The winning hit was a six, off the second ball of the 17th over, with the third wicket pair still together. Scorchers top the table, with a game in hand on their closest challengers as well, while Heat are currently stone last, though they have a game in hand on the team immediately above them.

AUSTRALIA CANCEL TOUR OF AFGHANISTAN

Australia were due to tour Afghanistan but have cancelled that tour in protest at the activities of the Taliban. This has caused considerable controversy, but I, old enough to remember South Africa’s isolation (caused by racial rather than sexual discrimination, though I suspect the likes of Balthazar Johannes Vorster were as misogynist as they were racist) am entirely in favour of the move (please note that individual South Africans were allowed to play in domestic competitions around the world, they were just not allowed to compete under the banner of South Africa) and hope that other countries will stand up to be counted.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

Good Riddance 2020

A farewell to 2020 (don’t let the door hit your bum on the way out), an account of the last cricket match of 2020 and a new year’s message to my readers.

The end of 2020 is now less than ten hours distant (in UK, some of you are already into 2021, and have been able to celebrate New Year’s Eve – well done NZ), and it will be a great relief to see it out, though 2021 offers little sign of immediate improvement for us Brits (although those north of Hadrian’s Wall might do themselves a favour by going for a UDI). A stark indication of quite how badly Johnson and his cronies are letting the country down: yesterday 981 people in Britain died due to Covid-19, while across the Irish sea just nine suffered the same fate.

As a cricket fan, 2020 has been a fine year since the resumption of cricket in the summer (my congratulations to the West Indies, both men’s and women’s teams for making the journey and ensuring the home summer saw some international cricket – as soon as a visit from this island becomes an asset rather than a liability those tours should be reciprocated. I am going to devote most of the rest of this post to covering the last top level cricket match of 2020.

ADELAIDE STRIKERS V PERTH SCORCHERS

This BBL match featured one team doing less well than expected or hoped (Strikers) and a team doing appallingly (Scorchers). Strikers batted first, and every time they seemed be getting going a wicket fell. Finch batted well but could find no serious support. Then, down to him and Rashid Khan (best known for being the no1 rated T20 bowler on the planet but also a more than useful lower order batter whose approach is ideally suited to short form cricket), he was overly timid about claiming the Power Surge, and Rashid fell with it still unclaimed. At the end of their innings the Strikers had 146-9, a total that should not pose the chasing side much of a problem, but Scorchers as mentioned earlier were winless.

Scorchers started the chase well, with Jason Roy doing most of the scoring. However when both openers, Roy for 49 and Livingstone for an unconvincing 8, fell in the same over one had to wonder if the Scorchers were about to suffer another case of the collywobbles. Although a third wicket fell just before halfway, a boundary of the final ball of the tenth over secured Scorchers the Bash Boost point. Some would say that they also delayed claiming the Power Surge longer than they ought, but at least they managed to take it with two set batters at the crease, and by the time it ended the chase had been reduced to 14 off four overs, which would take a lot of messing up.

The 17th over of the innings was Peter Siddle’s third and he made a good fist of it, meaning that the target was still 10 going into the 18th. Successive fours off the third and fourth balls of that over completed the job, giving Scorchers a win by seven wickets and all four points. It was a satisfying end for me on two counts: 1) I had predicted at the start of the 17th that Siddle would not get to bowl his 4th because the game would end before he could and 2) much more importantly it meant that the Strikers were properly punished for mucking up over the Power Surge.

The more I follow of this year’s Big Bash the more I think that it must be better to go for the Power Surge too early rather than too late, which is why I cannot wholly endorse Scorchers waiting until the end of the 15th to go for it, but unquestionably they approached it miles better than the Strikers.

If the Scorchers could contrive to use this hugely impressive victory as a springboard back into the tournament it would represent a comeback to send Lazarus green with envy on their part.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Just before my usual sign off, which on this occasion includes a video, I have a few final words of 2020 for my readers: thank you all, and here’s to a better 2021