The two batsmen hit electric fifties to lift Hobart Hurricanes to 210 for 4, after which the defending champions wilted under scoreboard pressure in the chase
“Who’s next? Who cares!” was the headline in Adelaide’s Advertiser newspaper when the South Australian capital’s football team, the Crows, unexpectedly beat Hawthorn in their first AFL final 25 years ago. A similar sentiment pervaded the Hobart Hurricanes after their stunning overthrow of Perth Scorchers’ Big Bash League hegemony on Thursday night.
Given the fact the host venue for the final – either Adelaide Oval or Docklands Stadium in Melbourne – will be decided later on Friday, the Hurricanes elected to travel from Perth to Adelaide, getting the long flight out of the way, and wait and see. Though they wobbled into the semis off the back of three consecutive losses and relied on Melbourne Renegades beating Brisbane Heat to qualify, their captain Daniel Christian said the Perth result had quickly raised Hobart’s sights. A first BBL title is one game away.
“We might not be [underdogs] now that we’ve flogged the Scorchers,” Christian declared. “Either way we’re pretty confident. We’ve always been pretty confident in what we’ve got as a team. Even though we haven’t played that perfect game we’ve been pretty confident that we’ve got the guys to be able to put it together so whoever we play, the Renegades or the Strikers, I’m sure we’ll be right up for it.
“Yesterday I would have said the Renegades [were more likely finalists] but now that Travis Head is back I think it’s probably a bit closer because the Renegades haven’t been affected too much by the Aussie selections, although they’ve lost Kane Richardson I suppose. But they played really well in Brisbane the other night so either way we are really looking forward to it.”
Christian agreed the Hurricanes had been able to play with clear minds and full hearts given the weight of expectation heaped on the Scorchers by their formidable BBL record and home fixture in front of 52,960 parochial fans at the new stadium in Burswood. He said they had also been helped by the fact that Perth did not have a spinner, having lost Ashton Agar to Australian duty and then declined to pick James Muirhead.
“We were just able to go out and play and not worry about the new stadium and the hoo-ha that came along with it,” Christian said. “Finals are pretty funny. You sort of come into them and you want to play that perfect game but it’s not often you get the opportunity to do it. Everything just fell our way because once the boys got used to the pace of the wicket the Scorchers didn’t have a spinner and Ashton Agar destroyed us in the last game, so once we got used to the pace, they just kept bringing in the same pace at us and once Matty Wade and Ben McDermott got used to that, they were pretty hard to stop.
“We’ve been talking all year about putting together a close to perfect performance and that’s probably as close to perfect for us really. To get 210 and then bowl them out for 130-odd, that’s pretty awesome. We’ve batted well in most games this year and bowled well in patches but we haven’t really been able to do it for the full 20 overs of both disciplines so it was really pleasing.”
The Scorchers captain Adam Voges, who announced his retirement from the BBL after the game, said the new stadium required the Perth team to learn better how to play it after years at the more open WACA Ground. “This will be our new home from now on,” he said, “but we have to learn to play this ground a lot better than we did tonight.”
The Hurricanes, of course, now feel like there is a little patch of Tasmania out west, having made the venue their playground for a night. Christian said the pitch, a new generation drop-in much like that of Adelaide Oval, had been a pleasant surprise. “It is an absolutely fantastic stadium. It’s stunning and the crowd was great, the wicket was great,” he said. “I got the ball caught in the lights a couple of times, that’s the only issue with the footy lights running all the way around rather than the poles that you get at most stadiums, but apart from that it was fantastic.
“Being a drop-in we didn’t think the wicket would be as good as it was. We thought it might be slower and a bit lower a bit like your Etihad, MCG kind of wicket. Particularly given that it’s so new, we thought it was going to be not quite as quick. It’s quite a big ground square, we’d heard the dimensions are similar to the MCG, which suits us really, bowling slower balls into the wicket and hard into the wicket and trying to make them hit square so we were pretty confident we had the right attack to be able to slow them down or at least try to get them out.”
Like the stadium pitch, the Hurricanes proved far better than expected. The BBL finals come at you fast.