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Match 7: Sydney Sixers v Perth Scorchers

Match-Ups

Five of the six overs in Perth Scorchers’ Powerplay were bowled by spinners with the Sydney Sixers aware that both Michael Klinger and Shaun Marsh favour seam bowlers and the ball coming on to the bat. Before this match Johan Botha had conceded just 17 (26) against Marsh while Stephen O’Keefe had conceded just 17 (20) against Klinger. Botha and O’Keefe, as well as William Somerville bowled a very tight line in the Powerplay. They conceded just five runs from the first two overs, and across the six overs bowled 13 dot balls (36%) and conceded just two boundaries each. The pressure built by the spinners brought two wickets and put the Sixers ahead in the game despite having lost the toss.

 

The squeeze

After the wicket of Sam Whiteman to a neat catch by Botha on the boundary, between the tenth over to the end of the seventeenth, the Scorchers scored just 38 runs and lost five wickets. In that period the Sixers bowled well and forced some ordinary shots which led to wickets and further stagnated the innings. It was a vicious cycle that begun with good bowling.

 

Of the two spinners Botha bowled a more defensive line, bowling straight and turning it in to the right handers and bowling wide and turning it wider to the left handers. O’Keefe, a left arm spinner, bowled less of a leg side line. Both of them bowled the large majority of their deliveries in line with the stumps and dropped just one delivery short between them.

 

Left armer Ben Dwarshuis ensured that after Botha and O’Keefe were bowled out Mitchell Marsh and the Scorchers deep batting order did not pull away at the death. Dwarshuis, bowling largely round the wicket, cramped the right handers for room, nailed his wide yorkers and gave no width to the left handers.

Scorchers struggle for timing

All eight of the Scorchers dismissals were caught and six of them were from shots that were mis-timed. This can in-part be attributed to good bowling which forced the batsmen out of control and also in-part due to the pitch which a number of players described as being slightly tacky, with the ball sometimes holding up in the pitch and not coming onto the bat as well as in match four at the same ground.

Sixers stroll

There are two ways to go out chasing a small total such as the one the Sixers were faced with, either go out all guns blazing and break the back of the chase early and cruise from there, or manage it carefully from start to finish. The first minimises pressure but increases risk, the second increases pressure but minimises risk. The Sixers opted for the second option, hitting the same number of boundaries as the Scorchers (14) but facing just 35 dot balls compared to the 47 of the Scorchers. It was fitting that when the game did appear to get a little tight with the wicket of Jordan Silk, the experienced head of Botha was there to propel the Sixers over the line.

Sixers go spin-heavy

Speaking after the match Botha said the Sixers felt they had too much pace on the ball in their defeat against the Hobart Hurricanes hence why they made the change to their team of dropping seamer Joe Mennie and bringing in spinner Somerville, who justified his selection with two big wickets.

Selection muddle

It was interesting to compare the Sixers selection against the Scorchers’ who opted to change the balance of their team, resting Mitchell Johnson and replacing him with batsman S Marsh. In hindsight leg spinner James Muirhead, on a pitch that appeared to suit the spinners, would have been a better option. The problem for the Scorchers appears to be they have eight batsmen for seven slots and the only batsman who could conceivably make way for S Marsh is the captain Adam Voges.

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

Match 4: Sydney Sixers v Hobart Hurricanes

Match Analysis | Freddie Wilde

Sloppy Sydney

While attention understandably focused on D’Arcy Short as he blitzed his way to a staggeringly bold debut fifty off just 21 balls, very little was paid to the seam bowling he was tucking into which was inaccurate and appeared to be poorly planned. Whether or not the Sixers knew much about Hobart Hurricanes’ new left-handed opening batsman—and given that he made his return to the professional circuit almost 12 months ago they really should have—is irrelevant when you consider that most of their bowling would have been considered poor whoever the batsman, and wherever their strengths and weaknesses.

Short scored 56 of his 61 runs against seam from 19 of his 29 balls. The seamers’ line was generally either too straight or too wide and afforded Short easy pickings on the leg side or room to free his arms on the off side. Their length was too short and gave him the opportunity, on the rare occasion when they did get their line right, to back away and open up his arms, which he did on six occasions, bringing him 26 runs.

That Short only played three shots off the front foot against the seamers is reflected in the fact that they only bowled two deliveries fuller than 6.64 metres from his stumps. The Sydney bowlers appeared to decide very quickly that there was no swing or seam to be had and fell back onto a short length at an average pace of 78mph with no apparent plan and no control over their line, or respect paid to their field setting or the shorter boundary. They were punished appropriately.

The Big Short

That said, the inadequacy of Sydney’s bowling should not take anything away from Short’s innings. His fifty was impressive as much because of its nature as its detail – the bowling being poor doesn’t mean his ball-striking and confidence were not hugely impressive. Short did not edge a single shot and only mis-timed one in his innings. He scored 54 (13) from clean hits.

Spin slows the charge

While Short dominated the Sixers seamers, he scored just 5 (10) against the spinners. Stephen O’Keefe conceded just three runs from the eight deliveries he bowled at the left hander. O’Keefe simply bowled a tight off stump line, turning the ball into Short, and that was enough to keep him tied down.

Paine times his run 

While Short was attacking in the Powerplay Tim Paine did little more than turn over the strike and at the halfway stage of the innings he was scoring at less than a run-a-ball on 24* (26). With Short gone however Paine kicked on from there, scoring 39 from his next 19 balls. The shift was clearly intentional with Paine having defended 40% of his first 26 deliveries but 30% of his last 19.

Roy shows his class 

Jason Roy has played two template Powerplay innings this season, maximising the fielding restrictions with unfettered, albeit controlled, attack. At no point was that more apparent than from his fourth ball in this innings when, having edged a Shaun Tait away swinger wide of slip for four the ball previously, on the downswing of the next ball he followed the swing with his hands and drove through the covers for four.

Rose ruins the response 

Only twice before has a score of more than 200 been successfully chased in the BBL and neither of them have been at the SCG. Unless the Hurricanes bowled as poorly as the Sixers did in the Powerplay or someone played a special innings then this was an unlikely run-chase. Any slim chance that they would pull it off was all but ruined in the fourth over by two excellent pieces of fielding: first Stuart Broad took a tumbling catch at short third man to dismiss Jordan Silk from a Clive Rose ball that gripped and turned, then Rose himself took a brilliant reaction chance off his own bowling to remove Moises Henriques for a duck. The Hobart Hurricanes’ fielding score of 4.77 was 14.67 better than the Sixers’ -11.9.

Hurricane

Tait’s pitch map does not suggest a particularly good bowling performance; the line is wide and length very short. Tait is not your normal bowler though. Pitch maps such as the one above are to be expected – the key to his bowling is whether he can produce wicket-balls, and today he could. Five times Tait breached 90mph and his 92.23 mph in-swinging yorker to bowl Sam Billings was T20 fast bowling at his best. If he can produce two or three of them a match it almost doesn’t matter what he does with the rest.

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

Match 1: Sydney Thunder v Sydney Sixers

Match Analysis | Freddie Wilde

Sixers stray off line

Speaking after the match Sydney Sixers’ captain Moises Henriques said that he felt in Sydney Thunder’s Powerplay it was poor bowling more than it was good batting that contributed to the Thunder’s score of 64-1 after six overs. 39 of those runs came from just two overs – five and six, bowled by Joe Mennie and Doug Bollinger – and were indeed largely the product of poor bowling. To the left handed Eoin Morgan, Mennie and Bollinger bowled too straight and leaked four boundaries through fine leg. To the right handed Ryan Gibson, Bollinger a left-armer bowling over the wicket, gave too much width outside off stump from balls angled across the batsman and on three occasions he was lashed for fours through cover point and third man.

 

Sixers squeeze, Thunder splutter

In T20 cricket after the Powerplay when the field drops back and more spinners are deployed the pace of the game changes. Here the Sixers thrived on the transition while the Thunder struggled as the three overs immediately after the Powerplay brought just ten runs and the wicket of Morgan. Stephen O’Keefe and Johan Botha bowled very straight and Sean Abbott in a channel outside off stump, angled in from round the wicket. With boundary-riders on both sides of the ground the boundary supply was cut-off, but crucially eight dot balls were bowled too as Morgan and Gibson struggled to pierce the gaps, twice timing shots straight to fielders, and on one occasion Morgan swung wildly and missed.

The Thunder had got ahead of the game in the first six overs but this stagnation prior to the collapse meant the lower-order were left with a lot of ground to catch up in the final third of the innings.

Roy’s leap

The value of good fielders was displayed spectacularly by Jason Roy as his full length dive at backward point turned what would have been a four through third man into a wicket, transforming Thunder’s post-Powerplay blip into a Sixers surge. Later in the innings the Sixers’ other England import Sam Billings took a fine tumbling catch running in at mid-wicket to dismiss Gibson.

Russell restrained

Short and straight is the best place to bowl to Andre Russell who has on occasion been floored by short balls in the past. Against such a powerful player it won’t always work and will sometimes be punished, but here Bollinger was rewarded for just that line and length with the key wicket, as the pitch map below illustrates.

Attack: two can play at that game

With the wicket of Russell, Thunder had lost four for 15. After the onslaught of the Powerplay the tables had turned. Henriques spotted the opportunity and went on the attack, bringing in a slip for the new man Chris Green. The move was vindicated moments later as Green edged his second ball straight to Daniel Hughes at a wide second slip who took a sharp catch.

Thunder’s fielding let the Sixers slip away

Fielding proved to be a major difference between these two teams: the Sixers recorded a fielding impact score of +11.2 – 27.25 runs more than the Thunder’s -16.05. While the Sixers took some excellent catches to restrict the Thunder to a below-par score, the Thunder made some costly errors, turning what could have been a tight chase in to a procession. Henriques, who finished with 76* (41) was dropped twice, first on 0 (1) by Clint McKay at short fine leg – a tough but catchable chance – and then on 28 (26) by Pat Cummins – a tougher chance, running back at mid wicket – but one Roy, for example, would have taken.

Additionally, just before the second drop, building pressure was diminished as Gurinder Sandhu conceded four through his legs at short third man. When defending a low score the fielding team can’t afford to make such mistakes.

Clean-hitting Henriques

Although the Thunder’s fielding let them down and Henriques off, Sixers’ number three made the most of his good fortune and played a captain’s innings to guide the chase. He displayed wonderfully clean ball-striking, with just 5 (2) of his 76 runs coming from edges and 51 (12) coming from well-timed shots, in contrast 12 (4) of Hughes’ 54* (49) came from edges or gloved deflections, while 16 (7) came from well-timed shots. Perhaps the most important of Henriques eleven boundaries was a shot of class, not power. In the tenth over after just 11 runs had come from the preceding 14 deliveries, he cut a quicker ball from Ahmed off middle stump and through third man to release the pressure.

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

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