Match 2: Adelaide Strikers v Brisbane Heat

Match Analysis | Freddie Wilde

Brisbane’s Blitz

The boundary dimensions in this match with one short square boundary and one short straight boundary made this a difficult day for the bowlers, and as such it was unsurprising that the match produced the highest aggregate runs scored at the Adelaide Oval.

At the end of the Heat’s six overs Brendon McCullum had scored 37* (14), hitting four fours and three sixes. McCullum’s value in the Powerplay was best displayed in the third over, bowled by Michael Neser, as he hit four consecutive boundaries: 4, 6, 6, 4. Both sixes were hit over the short straight boundary and the second was hit over a fielder at long off who had been dropped back from mid-off after the previous six. McCullum knew that the boundary was short and hitting with the wind behind him he backed himself to clear the fielder. He didn’t time the shot properly but the ball still carried all the way. Calculated aggression.

Dancing with the devil 

In the Powerplay McCullum came down the pitch three times, backed away three times and moved across his stumps once, while his opening partner Jimmy Peirson came down the pitch twice and moved across his stumps three times. Beyond the obvious benefit of creating new angles at contact and through and over the field, the value of moving around the crease without comprising impact is that the movement throws bowlers off their lines and lengths and that was evident in the second half of the Powerplay as Jake Lehmann dragged his third delivery short, Chris Jordan delivered a low full toss and Ben Laughlin strayed too straight to Peirson and all their errors were punished to the boundary.

Pace off, runs down 

Having scored 79 for 0 in the first six overs, Brisbane Heat scored 23-2 in the next six. Key to the slowdown was the change in the pace of the bowling. After Jordan and Laughlin had bowled overs five and six, the medium pace of Kieron Pollard and spin of Liam O’Connor was a significant change and on a pitch that McCullum described as having “tennis-ball” bounce it is likely that it was more difficult to time the ball as well when pace was taken off it. Indeed, in the Powerplay 36% of Brisbane Heat’s shots were well-timed, in the six overs immediately after the Powerplay that figure fell to 13%.

Ross bides his time

This was a pitch on which no one who came in to bat outside of the Powerplay scored quickly straight away. It appeared to take some time getting used to. Whether through fortune or design, that Alex Ross was 3* (10), then 10* (16) and 16* (20) appeared to help him from thereon as he became the only batsman in the match to launch a sustained attack outside of the Powerplay. Just 5% of Ross’s first 19 shots, one shot, was timed-well compared to 58% of his last 17 as he blitzed 49 runs, hitting five fours and four sixes from the second half of his innings.

Slam Dunked

Perhaps encouraged by the tacky nature of the pitch in the first innings Brisbane Heat bowled four overs of spin the Powerplay. A combination of some superb shots – three off side boundaries against the spin from straight balls in particular – and some short and overly straight bowling, meant 43 runs were plundered from the spinners and 72 from the Powerplay overall.

Unlike in the Heat’s innings the Strikers continued their onslaught until the eleventh over. McCullum, who was miked up, said that he felt the pitch, where it was sticking in the surface for them, was skidding on under lights. While the Heat timed just 13% of their shots well in their post-Powerplay slow-down, the Strikers timed 29% well as they continued their march.

Badree turns the match

At the start of the fourteenth over, the Strikers, requiring 62 from 42 balls with eight wickets in hand were favourites. Samuel Badree’s maiden to Travis Head that followed was partly clever bowling and partly poor batting, but regardless, it changed the match.

As the pitch map above illustrates, Badree, who had conceded 17 from his first two overs and then just five from his third before the maiden, bowled a wider line in his second two overs than he had in the Powerplay and rather than turning the ball back into the left handed Head, as he had with Dunk and Weatherald, he opted instead for sliders and wrong’uns, refusing to direct the ball into Head’s arc, instead skidding it across him and twice the outside edge was beaten. However, for all the intelligence of Badree’s altered line and spin, that Head didn’t attempt a single boundary shot in the over was strange batting given the circumstances.

Yorkers and captain cool 

With 24 required from the last two overs and Brad Hodge and Pollard at the crease the match was perfectly poised. What followed was an exhibition in death bowling and captaincy. McCullum stayed totally calm as he marshalled his fielders, in discussion with his bowlers, back and forth. From round the wicket Ben Cutting bowled a magnificent nineteenth over, conceding four off the first but just three off the next four before bowling Pollard with a yorker from the sixth. Every ball McCullum adjusted the field significantly. Fine leg, cover, mid on and mid-wicket were in and out during the course of the over. It was set-play cricket. Whether it was a plan or a bluff was unclear but it worked. The final over was even better as Mark Steketee landed four yorkers, one at 87mph that bowled Lehmann and another that Jordan lofted to mid-off where, fittingly, McCullum took the catch.

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