Match 5: Perth Scorchers v Adelaide Strikers

Match Analysis | Freddie Wilde

Weatherald’s costly drop

Had Jake Weatherald held onto Ian Bell’s top edged pull shot first ball, which would have left Perth Scorchers 7 for 2 after 1.1 overs, the result of this match could well have been different. Bell went on to make a match-defining 61 (42), establishing the foundation for the highest score at the WACA since January 2014 and the sixth highest score ever at the ground. It was a target that proved too many for the Adelaide Strikers. Based on Bell’s career statistics and the probability of the catch being taken, Weatherald’s drop is the most costly drop of the season so far. In simple terms, it cost the Strikers the match.

Bell makes Strikers pay

After being dropped first ball Bell made the Strikers pay for their error with an innings of high class. Bell is not a power-hitter yet he scored at strike rate of 145 in his innings and did so by playing conventional cricket shots, drawing on his skill and running well to maximise runs off good balls and punishing bad balls. At the end of the Powerplay having faced seven dot balls Bell had scored 27 runs off his other 11 balls, pulling one short ball and driving one wide ball from Billy Stanlake for four, brilliantly lofting Chris Jordan for six over cover and steering Kane Richardson through third man. Neither the ball from Jordan or Richardson necessarily deserved to be hit for a boundary, but through skill against Jordan and awareness against Richardson, Bell turned what could have been 2 (2) into 10 (2).

In the nine overs after the Powerplay Bell scored at a similar rate, facing five dot balls and adding 34 (24), hitting four boundaries: one of them a brilliant six over long off against Liam O’Connor, one a freebie short ball from Richardson, one a fortunate edge and another that was half fortunate edge, half late adjustment, to glance a ball from Jordan through the vacant slip region for four.

Perhaps the most important aspect of this phase of Bell’s innings was his ability to stay in while scoring at such an impressive rate, and he owes that largely to his willingness to defend good balls, but also his ability to score off them. On six occasions (7.5, 9.1, 11.4, 12.2, 13.1 and 13.3) Bell took singles through backward point and third man using his trademark deflected-late-steer-cut. More power-minded players may have tried to hit those balls in front of square for boundaries, perhaps sometimes succeeding but perhaps sometimes getting out. Bell knows his own game and knows that while he may lack the power to muscle balls for four, bad balls will come, and if he picks the right ones, he can hit some good ones for four as well.

The engine room

Beneath the classical aggressors of Bell, Michael Klinger, Sam Whiteman (and Shaun Marsh when fit) the Scorchers have their engine room of Mitchell Marsh, David Willey and Ashton Turner. Here, while Willey failed, Marsh and Turner contributed 75 (38) converting Perth’s strong start into a fantastic, and ultimately unassailable, score. While Marsh struggled for fluency, edging or mis-timing 11 (5) Turner’s innings was characterised by clean and clinical ball-striking. It seemed like every time he committed to a boundary shot he got a boundary, scoring 33 (7) of well-timed shots, happy to milk 11 from the other 12. The slog – 18 (3) – and the pull – 14 (5) – were Turner’s most prolific shots, while Marsh’s was the drive – 22 (9).

Scorchers attack with the ball

This pitch was more similar to WACA pitches of old than most at the ground these days – the extra bounce and pace was evident in Klinger’s top edged dismissal and Bell’s first ball drop. As a result both teams appeared to decide that bowling short, or at least back of a length, was their best option in an effort to exploit that extra bounce. While both teams had success with with balls pitching back of a length or shorter – the Strikers taking six wickets and the Scorchers seven, the Scorchers, namely David Willey, had success pitching the ball up as well, taking two wickets with drive-balls in the Powerplay. In Willey the Scorchers had a bowler that the Strikers didn’t have, having dropped Ben Laughlin, namely someone who pitches the ball up, swings it and attacks the stumps. By the time Willey had removed Ben Dunk with an away swinger that found the outside half of the bat and was caught at cover, and Weatherald with a full, straight ball after having conceded one run from the preceding five deliveries, an unlikely chase had become almost impossible.

Living life on the edge

The pace and bounce in the pitch induced more runs through edges and mis-timed shots than any match so far this season. The Scorchers scored 32 (22) from them – a season record – until the Strikers scored 50 (36). The more edges, the less a batsman is in control and the more luck regarding where the ball lands is relevant. At least in this match the margin of victory was such that luck didn’t play a defining role.

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