Scorchers Through to #BBL10 Final and England’s No3

An account of the ‘Challenger’ match between Scorchers and Heat, a note on the England no three situation, a link to an important petition and some photographs.

While the main part of this post deals with today’s ‘Challenger’ match, the penultimate game of BBL10, I will also be touching on the question on England’s no 3 with Crawley injured.

SCORCHERS OUTCLASS HEAT

A quiet opening over from which four runs accrued gave no hint of the fireworks that were to follow. The second over bowled by Mark Steketee went for 13 and Scorchers were properly off and running. Bartlett bowled the third, and his second, saving him from what have been a sixth ‘supersubbing’ of the tournament and at the end of it Scorchers were 23-0. 10 came off the fourth over and Scorchers at 33-0 were going reasonably. They moved into higher gear immediately thereafter, cashing in on Bartlett being given a third successive over by taking 14 from it, and then adding another 14 of the leg spin of Swepson in the next over. Heat’s second leg spinner, Labuschagne, was lucky to escape with his first over going for only nine. By the halfway point Scorchers were 108-0 and looking at a monster total. They did not claim the Power Surge immediately, while the expected ‘supersub’ by the Heat bringing Morkel on for Steketee did happen. With Livingstone falling in the 12th for a magnificent 77 off 39 balls Scorchers endured their only quiet spell, overs 11-14 yielding them 19 for the loss of that wicket. At that point, with Bancroft set and Mitch Marsh starting to go well they took the Power Surge, and they took 22 off the first over thereof, and then 11 more off the second to be 160-1 after 16. They maintained the momentum thereafter and were 189-1 off 18.1 overs when the rain came down.

The interruption lasted long enough to terminate the Scorchers innings and eat into the number of overs available for the Heat to chase in. The resumption came with Heat facing a DLS adjusted target of 200 off 18 overs, four overs of Power Play at the start, but controversially only one over of Power Surge later on. Scorchers used both their Power Surge overs, and did so with devastating effect as shown above, and if after 18.1 overs they had failed to do so there would be no real cause for compensating them for their own stupidity in delaying the surge so long. 200 off 18 overs was a fair enough target given that Scorchers had they had their full 20 would have been somewhere in the region of 215-220 or approximately 11 an over, precisely the task facing Heat, but I do feel that Heat should have had two overs of Surge and not one. I do not for one instant believe that this slightly harsh treatment of Heat affected the result in any way.

Heat made a bright start, scoring 32 off the first three overs, to be not a million miles behind the rate. Disaster struck in the next over however, when openers Denly and Lynn fell in successive balls – Denly caught off a skyer during which the batters crossed and Lynn bowled by the next ball, to end the Power Play at 37-2, with Labuschagne and Heazlett together. Heazlett was unable to even threaten to repeat his ‘Sambulance rescue’ act from Heat’s previous match, and at the halfway point Heat were 66-4, needing 134 off nine at 14.89 per over to win. In a last desperate gamble they claimed the Power Surge hoping to revive their innings, but they could only take nine off their single over of Surge and at 75-4 after ten needed 125 off eight overs to win. By the end of the 12th over they were six wickets down and all but out. A flourish in the next period saw them boost the score to 121-7 after 15, but 79 off three overs is not something that one can expect be achieved, especially by lower order batters. In the end Heat just brought up the 150 with a boundary off the last ball of the match, finishing on 150-9, fully 50 short of the target. Scorchers will thus face Sixers in Saturday’s final, and one hopes there will not be another AJ Tye deliberate wide to end that one.

My only mild criticism of Scorchers today is that they should have taken the Power Surge immediately at 108-0 after ten, rather than enduring that brief quiet patch in overs 11-14, but their timing of the taking of the Surge was by no means foolish, and they did make brilliant use of those two overs of fielding restrictions. Heat did well to get as far as they did after a very poor start in the tournament, and Scorchers also made a slow start, although not as much as Heat, and are in their best form at the right time. Sixers have been superb throughout the tournament and will start the final, at the iconic SCG on Saturday, as favourites. In the end, the bizarre and byzantine qualification system and knock out stage has seen justice done with the two best sides locking horns in the final.

ENGLAND’S NUMBER THREE

England’s intention to revert to their preferred top three of Sibley, Burns and Crawley has been thwarted by an injury to Crawley. My understanding is that Crawley will definitely miss the first two tests, and that his place at no3 will be taken by Dan Lawrence. I approve of this – the other options available to England have even less appeal: Have Pope, returning from injury and with no experience of batting near the top of an order, bat at three, move the skipper up one slot from no4 when he has historically never performed at his best in the no3 slot and is enjoying a bonanza at no4, Stokes at no3, which would be a huge ask for an all rounder, or play Buttler as a specialist batter at no3, which is perhaps the least bad of the alternatives. England are definitely underdogs in this series and will need plenty to go right to have any chance, but if Sibley and Burns can see off the new ball, Lawrence manages something at no3 and at least one of the engine room pair of Root and Stokes can go seriously big they could have a chance.

LINK AND PHOTOGRAPHS

Just before my photographs, I have a petition to share with you calling for key workers to be given a pay rise. There is a screenshot below and I urge you to sign and share it by clicking here.

Now it is time for my usual sign off…

‘Sambulance Rescue’ Act

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.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

Scorchers Shamed

An account of today’s BBL ‘Qualifier’ between Sixers and Scorchers, including a disgraceful incident involving AJ Tye, and thoughts about the Power Surge.

The title of this post, devoted to today’s #BBL10 qualifier is dual purpose, relating both the Scorcher’s overall performance today and to the incident that ended the match.

SIXERS SLAM SCORCHERS

Scorchers batted first and started slowly, Roy falling in the third over for a nine ball three. They finished their Power Play overs strongly, taking 25 off the last 11 balls to be 30-1 after four overs. The second phase of their innings was solid, overs 5-10 inclusive yielding 44-1, to give a halfway score of 74-2, with two well set batters, one the very dangerous Colin Munro, together at the crease. It was a situation that demanded an early use of the Power Surge to launch the second half of the innings, but Scorchers did not take the opportunity, and they paid for their voluntary surrender of the initiative lest the Surge cause a fall of wickets, as the third quarter of their innings was an unqualified disaster, yielding them 24-2 to reach the three-quarter way stage at 98-4. At that point they did take the Power Surge (leaving it any later would have been truly appalling). They made superb use of those two overs, scoring 34 off them, a gain of at least 20 on what they would have scored from those overs in ordinary play. They then kept the momentum going to finish their 20 overs with 167-6, a defensible looking total. Their top scorer was Josh Inglis, a wicketkeeper, who as Yorkshire-born Aussie may potentially follow in the footsteps of Hanson Carter, the best Aussie keeper between Jim Kelly and Bertie Oldfield, who was also born in Yorkshire.

Sixers started brightly, taking 13 off the first over of the reply, and being 43-0 at the end of the Power Play, 13 runs and one wicket to the good. They lost Philippe late in the first half of their innings, but still had a superb overs 5-10, scoring 61-1 in that period, 17 more than Scorchers had managed, in what had been a good period for them. I would have thought an early Power Surge was called for, but Sixers did not go for it. By the the end of the 15th Scorchers were 151-1 and the only question was whether James Vince, by then on 89, would reach a ton before the end. Although Daniel Hughes hit a boundary to level the scores with Vince on 98, he then avoided scoring off any of the last three balls of that over. The 18th over began with the scores level, setting the stage for…

AJ TYE’S ABJECT ASSAULT ON THE SPIRIT OF CRICKET

Tye, an experienced and successful bowler, bowled to Vince with the scores level and Vince 98 not out. He produced what was blatantly obviously a deliberate wide, a mean and petty ‘dog in the manger’ type gesture that denied Vince any chance to complete a century that would have been thoroughly merited. I have umpired a few games at a low level, and temporarily donning my umpire’s hat, I would have been tempted to tell Tye loudly that I was not going to oblige him by calling a wide and that he better bowl the next one straight. I certainly think the Scorchers should drop Tye for their next game, which will be against the winners of the match between Thunder and Heat, and the winners of that will take on Sixers in the final. I will certainly be rooting against the Scorchers when the time comes. Is my dim view of this just because the offender is an Aussie? No, and I offer as evidence to back up my own criticisms the fact that one Richard Thomas Ponting, not normally known for Aussie bashing, is on my side as well. Very little in cricket is new, given the game’s long history, and there was an incident in a long ago ODI when David Gower, called up to bowl by way of a concession of defeat, again with a batter, this time Greg Chappell, on 98, bowled a deliberate no-ball. Gower’s behaviour then was marginally less inexcusable than Tye’s today because he was a non-bowler and one can understand him not being impressed by being made to act as a sacrificial offering.

THE POWER SURGE

I have stated my thoughts on the taking of the Power Surge before, but I am going to extend on them here. Firstly, I am more and more convinced that one should have a good reason for not going early, rather than allowing caution to dictate. Scorchers paid for their failure to go when in a perfect position to do so, and it was only Sixers utter dominance that enabled them to get away with delaying their own surge. The extra point about the runs from the surge overs is that is not just a question of how many do you get from them, it also a question of how many would you have scored anyway from those overs even without the surge, and that is where leaving it late is a definite loser – you will be throwing the bat at pretty much everything in the closing stages of a T20 innings anyway, so would be scoring faster than at other stages of the innings. Scorcher’s surge was worth about +20 to them compared to two ordinary overs at that stage, because they did make it count when they finally took it. Had those two overs been, to take the extreme, the last two of the innings, then they would have been maybe +10 had they scored the same 34. However, had Scorchers gone in overs 11-12, when they had two top batters together, including the potentially devastating Munro, those same 34 runs would have had them 108-2 with eight overs to go and a total of 180 a definite goal, with more a distinct possibility. As it was, timing it when they did, even that huge surge only brought a total of 170 on to the horizon, and in the end they were just short of that. Here as a reminder is a Power Surge inforgraphic I created earlier:

PHOTOGRAPHS

My parents are in King’s Lynn because my aunt is undergoing a medical procedure and needs to be kept company for 24 hours. They arrived yesterday, and we had a chat over my back garden fence, and I took delivery of a glass vessel which bears my name, and is now the only one of what was a pair, due to a recent accident, and it dominates today’s photo gallery…