A look at today#s BBL game, and how Brisbane Heat got absolutely blown apart by the team who came into today bottom of the table.
Today in the Big Bash League Brisbane Heat took on Sydney Thunder, with both sides desperate for a win.
THE HEAT INNINGS
Jimmy Peirson won the toss for Brisbane Heat and decided that they would bat first. This was the first and only thing that went right for them all match.
After six overs they were limping at 26-3. Peirson joined Munro for a rebuilding act at that point, and the pair were still together at the end of the 14th over, and the scoring rate was still below six an over. Time for the Power Surge you would think, but Peirson bottled taking it. A few balls into the 15th over Peirson was out and the chance of taking the Surge with two well set batters together had gone. In the end Peirson’s cowardice resulted in Heat’s Power Surge being the last two overs of their innings, with six wickets down. Unsurprisingly in those circumstances they did little with it, and ended with a final total of 121-6. In a T20, even on a pitch that is not particularly batter friendly that kind of score should never be enough…
THE THUNDER INNINGS
…Sydney Thunder’s openers, Gilkes and Hales, immediately put Heat’s pathetic effort in to proper context. By the halfway stage of the innings they were 87-0, needing just 35 more to win. A brutal onslaught against Swepson in the 11th over reduced that target to 10 off nine overs, and three fours in four balls by Hales off Steketee in the next over completed a ten wicket win for Thunder with 50 balls to spare. Gilkes, Sydney Thunder’s keeper as well as one of their opening batters, was named Player of the Match, having scored 56* (34) to Hales’ 59* (36). Sydney Thunder won so comprehensively that Peirson bungling the timing of Brisbane Heat’s Power Surge probably did no more than increase the severity of the beating that Heat took, but nevertheless it was terrible captaincy by him. I personally thought he should have called it at the end of the 12th by when he and Munro had been together six overs, and not calling it at the end of the 13th or the end of the 14th, when the pair were still together was beyond stupid. It is hard to see how Heat pick themselves up from this blasting at the hands of the team who came into today bottom of the table, and it is hard to see how Peirson can be allowed to remain captain. Scorecard here.
A look at the Big Bash League’s great innovation, the Power Surge and how best to use it, with a couple of classic examples of it being misused on successive days.
With the Big Bash League now in full swing this post is dedicated to that competition’s great innovation, the Power Surge (they had two others but have binned both the ‘supersub’ and the ‘Bash Boost Point’). I am writing it because yesterday and today I saw two classic examples of mistiming the Power Surge, whereas in the WBBL earlier this year the sides were nearly all excellent at judging when to go for it.
WHAT IS A POWER SURGE?
Most T20 innings around the world begin with six overs of ‘Power Play’, when only two fielders are allowed to be posted more than 30 yards from the bat and then have 14 overs of regular play when up to five fielders can be outside that 30 yard radius. The Power Surge variation, which I am a huge supporter of, has the innings start with four overs of Power Play, with the remaining two to be taken at the batting side’s discretion at any point after the end of the 10th over.
WHEN SHOULD THE POWER SURGE BE TAKEN?
There are a range of good answers depending on exact circumstances but the key thing to remember is that a successful Power Surge is not just about how many runs you score from those overs, it is about how many more runs you score from those overs than you would have done in regular play. Therefore using it in the ‘death overs’, when you would be scoring very fast anyway is not making full use of it. Ideally you would want both batters to have faced at least a few balls by calling for the Power Surge but if by the end of the 15th over you have not found a really suitable time to take it then take it for overs 16-17 irrespective of anything else, as a launchpad into the death overs.
POWER SURGE FAIL 1: JIMMY PEIRSON (BRISBANE HEAT)
Brisbane Heat made an awful start to yesterday’s match against Melbourne Renegades, losing three early wickets. However at the end of the 10th over, the fourth wicket partnership was still going, and this represented the golden opportunity to take the Power Surge with two set batters there to make use of it. Both batters fell in the 11th over, meaning a spot of retrenchment was needed. At the end of the 14th over the sixth wicket stand was still going, both batters had faced a reasonable number of balls, and this represented what will call the silver opportunity to take the Power Surge – both batters in to an extent, and enough overs left for the Surge to act as a good launch pad. Peirson neglected to call for it, and the partnership was broken in the 15th over. Peirson dithered and delayed over the Power Surge, and only took it when obliged to for the last two overs of the innings. Those two overs did yield a respectable number of runs, but not in my opinion any more than overs 19 and 20 would with regular field placements. Heat finished with 137-8. This looked a good total when Renegades were 9-4 in response, but Andre Russell and Akeal Hosein played excellent innings, while Finch anchored the innings at the other end. Renegades timed their Power Surge better than Heat, and Finch after playing second fiddle to Russell and Hosein stepped up at the death to see his side to a deserved victory.
POWER SURGE FAIL 2: MATT WADE (HURRICANES)
Today’s match (Sydney Sixers v Hobart Hurricanes) was complicated by a long rain delay, which reduced it to a 14 overs per side contest, and reduced the Power Play and Power Surge allocations to three and one overs respectively. Sixers won the toss, batted first, and although they missed a golden opportunity, when both openers were still there at the end of the seventh over, they did take a silver opportunity, taking it for the 11th over of their innings. They finished with 137-6 from their 14 overs. Hurricanes dropped behind the rate from the start of their innings, but were incredibly reluctant to use their Surge over. Eventually, they claimed it for the 13th over, but by then they needed 45 off two overs, and although Asif Ali made good use of that Surge Over, 21 were still needed off the final over. When an excellent boundary catch by Jordan Silk put a stop to Ali’s antics early in the final over the writing was on the wall, and only a six off the last ball of the match with it already lost restricted the final margin to six runs. Again the criticism of the Hurricanes approach is that Ali could easily have gone crazy in the penultimate over of the match against regular field placings, and had they taken the Power Surge earlier they may have been in a position when a big penultimate over would actually have put them in charge.
AN ALL TIME FRANCHISE XI
Since I am writing about franchise cricket, which I don’t do all that often I end with a challenge and an example answer: Using your own country as the home country and IPL overseas player rules (i.e. up to four in an XI) name your franchise XI made up exclusively of players from before the franchise era.
Thomas’ sample answer:
Home Country: England
XI in batting order:
G St A Sobers (West Indies, left handed batter, left arm bowler of every type known to cricket, gun fielder)
G L Jessop (Right handed batter, right arm fast bowler, gun fielder)
F E Woolley (Left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner, excellent close fielder).
D C S Compton (Right handed batter, left arm wrist spinner)
*K R Miller (Australia, right handed batter, right arm fast bowler, gun fielder, captain)
+L E G Ames (right handed batter, keeper)
G H Hirst (right handed batter, left arm fast medium bowler, gun fielder)
J B King (United States, right arm fast bowler, right handed batter)
J C Laker (off spinner, right handed batter)
A Shaw (right arm slow/medium bowler, right handed batter)
C V Grimmett (Australia, leg spinner, right handed batter)
An account of today’s BBL10 ‘Knockout’ between Thunder and Heat and a few comments about issues relating the tournament that were in the spotlight today.
This post is devoted to today’s #BBL10 ‘Knockout’ game between Thunder who finished third in the group and Heat, who finished fourth and then beat Strikers in the ‘Eliminator’.
THUNDER’S POOR TACTICS
Thunder got away to a slow start, only managing 22-1 in their four overs of Power Play. The seventh and eighth overs of their innings were both big ones, yielding 13 and 14 respectively. Khawaja fell in the ninth to make it 62-2. At the end of the tenth Thunder were 68-2, and in need of a big second half to their innings. The second half started slow, and the dismissal of Ferguson made it 74-3 at the start of the 12th. It was 78-3 at the end of 12th, and then 11 came off the 13th over to make it 89-3. At this point the Power Surge should certainly have been claimed in a bid to maintain the momentum, but Thunder did not do so, and a wicket fell in the 15th, with the Power Surge still unclaimed. At the three-quarter way stage Thunder were 107-4, and overs 11-15 had yield 39-2, respectable, but not enough after the slow beginning. Thunder still refused to claim the Power Surge, and by the 18th they were 134-6, and now had to use the Surge for their last two overs. They had a nightmare start to this final phase, losing wickets off the first two balls. The rest of it went OK and they finished with 158-8, nine runs less than the Scorchers had spectacularly failed to defend at the same ground yesterday. The Power Surge overs had yielded 24-2, but they would probably have managed that many from overs 19 and 20 even without them being the Surge overs, so basically because they were scared to take the Power Surge early they did not benefit from it at all.
A SLOW START FOR HEAT
Heat lost two wickets, including the man with the best twitter ‘meme team’ in the business backing him, Joe Denly. 10 off the fourth over saw them end the Power Play at 25-2, three runs ahead but one wicket behind Thunder. Overs 5-10 were slow going as well for the Heat, and that the half way stage they were 56-2, needing 103 off their last 10 overs for the win. They were building towards a good moment to take the Power Surge when Labuschagne was run out for 30 to make it 70-3 after 12 overs, 89 needed off eight overs to win. Sam Heazlett who had come in at the fall of the second wicket and was already going well was joined by Jimmy Peirson, setting the stage for…
THE ‘SAMBULANCE RESCUE’
After 14 overs Heazlett reached 50, having taken 37 balls to get there, with Peirson going nicely as well, and the score was 96-3, 63 needed off six. The 15th over went for 15, taking the score to 111-3, four runs and 1 wicket ahead of Thunder at the same stage, and now Heat managed something that had proved beyond Thunder: taking the Power Surge at a sensible time (I would have gone an over earlier, if not two, but at least they did take it with Heazlett and Peirson both still there). Heat took 26 off their two Power Surge overs without losing a wicket (only two runs more than Thunder, but two fewer wickets lost, and crucially a net gain of approximately ten runs compared to two non-surge overs at the same stage of the innings), and with three overs to go they were 137-3, needing 22 off 18 and now heavy favourites. Ten more runs of the 18th reduced the ask to 12 off 12 balls, and the match was practically unloseable. The 19th over nearly finished it, but the final ball of it, with scores level, was a dot, leaving Heazlett on strike for the start of the 20th, to complete the ‘Sambulance rescue’. The first ball of the 20th was put away for four by Heazlett – no deliberate wides this time! Heazlett had scored 74 not out of 49 balls, and his supporting act Peirson had 43 not out off 24 balls. Their match turning and ultimately match winning stand had produced 92 runs in 7.1 overs. Heat face Scorchers on Thursday, with the winners to take on Sixers in Saturday’s final, and given yesterday’s events I will be rooting for the Heat, who if only for their better handling of the Power Surge thoroughly deserved their win.
ISSUES OF BBL10
This game showcased several issues relating to the tournament as a whole:
X-factor subs: Heat were able to effectively get in an allocation of five overs – Bartlett bowled one over, a maiden that should have been a wicket maiden, in the first ten and was then replaced by ‘x-factor sub’ Morkel, who bowled his full four overs. The fact that the decision can only be made precisely at 10 overs into the first innings heavily favours the side who field first – they can replace a bowler either as Heat did with another bowler, or with a batter if they feel the need for extra batting depth, while the batting side can only justifiable opt to strengthen their batting, for example if they lose early wickets. I personally think this innovation needs to be abandoned completely, and certainly it cannot continue in its current form.
Umpiring: for some unknown reason DRS has not been used in this tournament, and some of the umpiring has been very poor. There were at least three, and possibly four poor decisions today: In the Thunder innings three LBWs were turned down, and all looked absolutely stone dead (I commented about the first of them that had it happened in a match with DRS and been given out not even Shane Watson would have bothered to review it), while the run out of Labuschagne may have been harsh, as the keeper may have dislodged the bails with his gloves before the ball was in his hands. DRS and the usage of all camera angles is a must for #BBL11, and some of the umpires need to smarten up their act or find a new job.
Catching: the standard of catching in this tournament has been woeful, and another cartload of chances went begging today. Guys, when a ball is hit in the air towards you, you are supposed to catch the damn thing.
Power Surge: I dealt with this in the main body of the piece, and also covered it yesterday, but today was a perfect case study. Simon Mann, who was part of today’s commentary team, labours under the bizarre delusion that the final two overs of the innings are the best in which to take it. Today blew that one sky high – Thunder did precisely that and effectively gained nothing from having the Power Surge, while Heat timed the taking of the Power Surge well, if not quite perfectly, and used it to move from being in a close fight to being in cruise control, a position they never subsequently relinquished.
An account of today’s BBL10 ‘Eliminator Round’ between Strikers and Heat, some suggested changes to the format of the tournament, and an acknowledgement of Pakistan’s victory over South Africa.
Before getting into the meat of today’s post, which deals with the ‘Eliminator’ round of BBL10, between Strikers and Heat, a word of congratulation to Pakistan, who completed a convincing win over South Africa by seven wickets. South Africa lost three wickets just before the close yesterday, as 175-1 became 185-4, and today they continued in that vein, being all out for 245, a lead of 87. Although Nortje bagged a couple of early wickets Pakistan were never in serious trouble, and fell appropriately to Fawad Alam to make the winning hit. His form since his recall to the colours makes one wonder how his team overlooked him for 11 whole years (not a record – George Gunn was called up by England after a lapse of 17 years between games, while in first class cricket there is the bizarre case of William Caesar who played two games in 1920 and four more in 1946, with nothing in between).
OVERKIND QUALIFICATION SYSTEM EXPOSED
It is rare the a pom gets an opportunity to call Aussies soft with any hint of justification, but BBL10 has provided it. A qualification system that allowed five teams out of a total of eight to make it to the knock out phase (in the Vitality Blast eight teams out of 18 do so, while in the 50 over contest it has been six teams out of 18) look questionable from the get go, and today’s match was powerful evidence for the prosecution, as Strikers took on Heat in the ‘Eliminator’.
Heat have been at their most vulnerable this season when faced with a run chase, so the Strikers were correct to choose to bat first. However, even if you make the correct call, you do then have to play decent cricket, and this was where Strikers slipped up. All seemed good when they were 18-0 after two overs, but overs three and four went for only six runs between them, giving a Power Play score of 24-0. In Overs 5-10 Strikers failed to gain any momentum, as first Carey and then Head pottered about, barely managing to achieve a scoring rate of one run per two balls (Carey 13 off 22, Head 12 off 21). At the half way stage Strikers were 53-1, way below par, and they immediately claimed the Power Surge, also using the ‘x-factor sub’ rule to bring Wells in for Worrall in an effort to jazz up their batting. One wicket fell in the Surge, but Strikers also scored 16 off those two overs, and they seemed to be maintaining the momentum, although bizarrely Renshaw came in ahead of ‘x-factor’ man Wells, when they were 94-3 after 15, having scored 41 in the third quarter of their innings. A big finish was needed, and did not materialize. In the end Strikers finished with 130-7 from their 20 overs, with only Weatherald, Salt, and at the death Wes Agar having shown anything like sufficient intent.
Heat made an even worse start than Strikers had, not scoring especially quickly and losing the big wickets of Lynn and Labuschagne early. A third wicket went down in the fourth over, and Heat’s Power Play had yielded 24-3. In overs 5-10 Heat scored 44 without losing a wicket, being 68-3 at halfway, 15 runs ahead but two wickets behind Strikers at the same point. They declined to take the Power Surge, holding back, and in the 14th over Denly was out for 41 to make it 92-4. At the end of the 15th Heat were 98-4, needing 33 of five overs, and the 16th was economical as well. Then however Travis Head blundered, giving himself a second over when he could have had Siddle and Agar bowl through. It revived the Heat, as they were 110-4 at the end of it, and that point they finally did claim the Power Surge. They got eight off the first over with it, reducing the ask to 13 runs off two overs, and then Agar, who had had a fine tournament with the ball, cracked under pressure, the winning runs being accrued off five balls of his over. Jimmy Peirson finished unbeaten on 47, a fine knock, which earned him the Player of the Match award.
Strikers made a huge mess of their own innings, with as I have said, Carey and Head especially culpable. Heat were barely any more impressive, getting their tactics badly wrong and being saved by Head’s inexplicable decision to give himself a second over. Heat should have claimed the surge when Denly and Peirson were together and they could have had two set batters use it. Also, their selection of Heazlett backfired – the left hander was picked to counter Strikers’ spinners Briggs and O’Connor both of whom turn the ball away from the right hander’s bat and was out before he got to face either.
Tomorrow sees Scorchers and Sixers do battle, with the winner going straight into the final, while the loser whill face the winner of Sunday’s game between Heat (their reward for winning this one) and Thunder. I would guess that if they followed today’s action Thunder will be licking their lips at the prospect of Sunday’s game.
This was a game that neither side deserved to win, and that had the qualification system been sensible would not have been taking place – 4th and 5th out of eight have no business making it to the knock out stages of a tournament, and it looked every inch a contest between two moderate sides neither of whom really know how to win.
I have already indicated what I think the qualification system should be: three teams qualify, group winners into the final, second vs third for the right to join them, with 2nd having home advantage.
I also feel the tournament would benefit from being more compact. A lot of the time there is only one game per day, with a few days featuring two games. With 14 rounds of group games I would play four fixtures per day, thereby having all eight sides in action, with a day off between rounds, meaning that the group phase would last 27 days in total, and then the two knockout matches would take place on successive days after two days off, making the whole length of the tournament 31 days – and it being an Aussie tournament I would make game day 1 Boxing Day, and the final to take place on Australia Day.