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Match 10: Brisbane Heat v Hobart Hurricanes

Match Analysis | Freddie Wilde

Full to Short 

For the second time in as many matches D’Arcy Short was bowled by a full length delivery, having faced just two full balls in his debut innings of 61 against Sydney Sixers in Match 4. This BBL season he has scored 25-2 (18) when playing front foot shots – well below his season strike rate of 186.

Heat restrict Hurricanes 

The average first innings score at the Gabba last season was 184 and with a particularly short boundary on one side of the ground in this match, a competitive score was arguably nearer 200. The Brisbane Heat therefore did well to restrict the Hobart Hurricanes to 173 for 9 and the hard work to do that was largely put in in the first eleven overs of the innings, in which they restricted the Hurricanes to 85 for 4.

The two standout performers for the Heat were Samuel Badree, who had bowled his four overs by the eleventh over, taking 1 for 26, and Mark Steketee who had bowled three of his four at that stage, taking 2 for 20. That they bowled five of the six Powerplay overs, Badree with three and Steketee two, makes their figures all the more impressive. Across both their four over quotas they only conceded one boundary each.

Badree bowled with good control of his line and length, taking 1 for 12 from his 16 full length balls.

Steketee landed 12 of his 26 balls on a full length, taking 2 for 5 from them. However he conceded 21 from the 11 deliveries that pitched shorter than a full length.

Hurricanes squeeze out 173

The Hurricanes’ innings was a strange one with 84 for 4 after eleven overs and a top-score of 33 amounting to a final total of 173. That they eventually scrambled to as many as they did is largely testament to the quality of the pitch—all of the boundaries were clean-hits—but also to some wayward bowling. Heat conceded 14 runs in extras, bowling seven wide deliveries and one no ball: Mitchell Swepson conceded five wides from one delivery while Ben Cutting bowled two wides in the last over.

Broad finds his rhythm 

Stuart Broad’s opening two overs included two no balls, two fours and a six and were hit for 19 runs but the 14 deliveries were the best balls of Broad’s BBL so far and should offer the Hurricanes reason for optimism. Broad removed Jimmy Peirson with his first ball, extracting some extra bounce to draw a leading edge before the contest with Brisbane’s best two players, Chris Lynn and Brendon McCullum and a fervent atmosphere, seemed to help Broad find his rhythm. Broad beat the bat four times (6, 7, 9, 10) and hit McCullum on the helmet (12) in his two over spell. Broad found that precious in-between length on which he thrives, around 7.5 to 8.5 metres from the batsman’s stumps, five times, and got good carry through to the keeper.

 

Blitzkreig

Quite how far the Hurricanes were under-par was made abundantly clear by the batting of McCullum and Lynn. After Peirson was dismissed in the second over, McCullum and Lynn put on 109 in 8.5 overs, propelling Brisbane to 71 for 1 at the end of the Powerplay and 118 by the time McCullum was dismissed for 75. Lynn took Heat home with 22 balls to spare. Had they batted first the highest BBL score of 210 for 7, by the Hurricanes at the Gabba, would have been in danger.

Both innings were stunning displays of ball-striking, particularly McCullum’s in which none of his 35 shots were edged and only three were mis-timed while Lynn edged three and mis-timed five. Together they scored 128 runs from 34 beautiful clean hits and 160 off 85 balls overall. The pair complimented each other well with McCullum scoring 53 (25) v spin an 19 (10) v seam while Lynn scored 32 (24) v spin – at one stage 15 (19) – and 50 (26) v seam.

The pitch map indicates that it was the fuller length that was punished most severely. Across the whole innings the three seam bowlers conceded 36 (14) from full length balls, 16 (5) half volleys and 10 (5) full tosses. Shorter than full appeared to work well for the seamers with Brisbane scoring just 11 (14) from that length.

The spinners too suffered as they bowled fuller, conceding 44 (24) from full length balls. Interestingly Cameron Boyce and Short conceded 15 (17) from deliveries that pitched back of a length. Ultimately though, given the mood of Brisbane’s batsmen and how well they were timing the ball, there was no length that was safe from punishment.

No half measures 

Both Lynn and McCullum were dropped, on 4 and 22 respectively, and although both catches were tough chances, when teams make an under-par total they are catches that generally have to be taken if the score is to be defended.

CricViz will be covering all 35 Big Bash League matches live on Twitter @CricProf.

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.

CricViz will be covering all 35 Big Bash League matches live on Twitter @CricProf.

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.

CricViz are covering all 35 Big Bash League matches @CricProf.

Big Bash League 2016/2017 Statistical Preview

Ahead of the Big Bash League season, CricViz has a look at some of the key numbers based on the career data of the 18-member squads.

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