Match 8: Sydney Thunder v Brisbane Heat

Match Analysis | Freddie Wilde

Heat exploit the conditions

The Brisbane Heat seamers bowled excellently according to the conditions, exploiting the uneven bounce and big square boundaries by bowling a high proportion of back of a length and short balls which forced Sydney Thunder to play cross-batted shots which appeared harder to time well.

Between them Mark Steketee, Ben Cutting and Jake Wildermuth bowled 23 short deliveries from which just 20 runs were scored and nine back of a length deliveries from which 10 runs were scored.

Kurtis Patterson and Eoin Morgan, who faced the most balls in Sydney Thunder’s innings, played 25 cuts and pulls between which brought them just 21 runs. 22 (22) of their runs were from edged or mis-timed shots.

The match flips

A lot of the good work of Brisbane’s bowlers was undone by the twentieth over of the innings, bowled by Mitchell Swepson, which went for 27 runs – 17% of Thunder’s final total. The decision to bowl Swepson, a leg-spinner, for the last over was a risky one – but was a tactic that is likely to have been decided upon a few overs previously when Brendon McCullum, perhaps looking to land a killer blow to Thunder’s innings, opted to bowl out his four frontline bowlers Steketee, Cutting, Wildermuth and Samuel Badree, and therefore was faced with a choice between Swepson (2-0-22-1) or Jason Floros (1-0-4-0) for the final over.

This is a tactic often utilised in run chases, when a tight over prior to the 20th can put the game beyond the chasing team. However, in the first innings – unless predicated on a favourable match-up, of which according to the career data of Ben Rohrer, Pat Cummins, Chris Green and Clint McKay, there wasn’t – it is a risky tactic given that the batsmen are compelled to attack whoever bowls the 20th over.

The counter argument is that had McCullum not bowled out his frontline bowlers when he had, and instead given Swepson his third over earlier, life could have been breathed into the Thunder’s innings sooner than the 20th and more damage been done. Regardless of why, the decision was a risky one, and given that Heat were in a position of strength already, it was arguably a risk that didn’t need to be taken.

Thunder dominate the Powerplay 

Although this was a match in which shorter length bowling appeared harder to hit—the economy rate for short balls was 6.51 and back of a length balls 4.94—the Sydney Thunder made significant inroads into the Brisbane Heat’s top order in the Powerplay by bowling full to exploit any swing movement. The fuller length, delivered at high pace by Andre Russell and Patrick Cummins and accurately by Clint McKay, took the wickets of Jimmy Peirson, Brendon McCullum and Alex Ross inside the first four overs with just 19 runs scored.

The warning shots

Bowling full is risky. It is a risk that in the first four overs paid off for the Thunder. However, in the sixth over of the innings that changed as Chris Lynn hit Cummins for five consecutive fours: four of them from full deliveries (two from full tosses and one each from a half volley and a length ball).

However, it would be churlish to be overly critical of Cummins for persisting with the full ball in that over given that it had already brought three wickets and one more, especially if it was Lynn, would have most probably put the match beyond Brisbane. While the result of the over was bad the process at least was sound.

Thunder let it slip 

It is harder to understand that ten overs later with Lynn still at the crease and requiring 12 runs per over and therefore compelled to attack, that Russell, McKay and Cummins all regularly bowled a fuller length once again. Six of Russell’s ten death deliveries were length balls or fuller, and cost 15 runs; four of Cummins’ six death deliveries were length balls or fuller, and cost six runs (he also conceded a four from a top edged short ball and two from a drop catch off a short ball) and five of McKay’s death deliveries were length balls or fuller and cost 17 runs.

In the match the economy rate of length balls and fuller was 8.37 compared to just 6 for anything shorter. 42% of deliveries bowled by Heat’s seamers were back of a length or shorter, compared to 27% for the Thunder.

The stats indicate that Thunder saw the yorker as their go-to delivery under pressure, which is understandable – it is a difficult delivery to hit, and they conceded 2 (5) from it. The trouble is an over-pitched yorker is a full-toss and an under-pitched yorker is a half volley. Thunder conceded 15 (6) from full tosses and 21 (10) from half volleys. The Heat instead looked to a shorter length and although they landed fewer yorkers, three, they also bowled fewer full tosses and conceded half as many runs from the half volleys they did bowl. Across the whole match Heat’s seamers delivered 23 short balls compared to Thunder’s 12. 

Fortune favours those who can catch? 

In such a tight match luck can play a decisive role. Brisbane Heat scored 33 (24) from edges and mis-timed shots, including 22 (9) from Lynn alone, while Thunder scored 32 (31). The Thunder did have their chances to kill the match though, dropping Lynn twice in the last two overs and Wildermuth once in the sixteenth. Had just one of those catches been held it is likely there would have been a different result.

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