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A lit BBL season of thunderous batting, electrifying fielding and close finishes

Last updated on 27 Jan 2022 | 09:04 PM
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A lit BBL season of thunderous batting, electrifying fielding and close finishes

With top batting, fabulous fielding and close finishes, BBL has had plenty of action-packed moments this season

It seems a long time ago when the 2021/22 Big Bash Season underwent a dull start. A depleted Melbourne Stars side was bowled out for 61, crashing to a 152-run defeat against Sydney Sixers in the lung-opener. The tournament picked up pace post that undesirable start. 60 matches later, we are all set for another final between Perth Scorchers and Sixers. One could have anticipated this final fixture but we ain’t complaining given the tournament will be defined by many thrilling moments in different formations. 

The fielding efforts of the tournament

We all love the moments of brilliance in the field and BBL always have plenty to offer on that front. There are multiple contenders for the catch of the season. The BBL social media team narrowed it down to three entries - Jake Fraser-McGurk’s leap of faith, Sean Abbott’s stunning dive to his right and Glenn Maxwell's nonchalant one-hander while running back. It is tough to pick a favorite among these. 

And what about this team effort. How many times have you seen the first slip and the short third-man fielder combine to take a catch? Peter Handscomb spilled the catch at first slip but did well to balloon it up in the air. A well-aware Riley Meredith got into the action to complete the catch. The expression on the bowler’s face was absolute gold. 

The mishaps

There were a few mishaps as well. Hobart Hurricanes failed on the teamwork front in this instance. Three run out opportunities were missed on a single delivery. 

The stubborn zing bails underlined the delightful competition between the young leg-spinner Tanveer Sangha and the power-hitter Andre Russell. It was a surge over which generally keeps the pressure on the bowler. But Sangha kept his calm, conceding only 8 runs off the first 5 balls. On the last ball, his flighted delivery found its way to hit the stumps. But the bails didn’t budge. 

“The ball hit the stump like hard, happy to still be batting and have a laugh about it,” admitted Russell after the match. 

Bowling performance of the tournament

In Match 46, Rashid Khan toyed with the Brisbane Heat batting line-up. The leg-spin phenomenon snaffled 6/17, his career-best figures as well as the best bowling spell of the season. 

Five of the six batsmen he dismissed were out for a duck. The other had 1 run against his name. Heat were extinguished for 90. It began Adelaide Strikers’ surge from one win in eight matches to finish at number four in the points table.

Batting performance of the tournament

Most highlights this season were comprised of the batsmen. There were six hundreds, four more than the preceding season. In addition, there was one 99 not out and two scores of 98 not out. Among many memorable knocks, it is Glenn Maxwell’s unbeaten 154 off 64 balls that takes the cake. It is now the highest individual score in BBL history. He went past Marcus Stoinis’ 147 not out who was at the other end when Maxwell took the record-breaking run. 

Consequently, Stars scored 273/2, the highest team score not only in BBL but in T20 cricket. 

Player of the tournament

In a batting season, it’s no surprise that a batter won the Player of the Tournament award. Ben McDermott joined the tournament late but amassed 577 runs, the most in the tournament, averaging 48.1 at a strike-rate of 153.9. He notched up consecutive hundreds, becoming the first batter in the BBL history to do so. He came close to a third hundred but fell 7 runs short in Match 41 against Brisbane Heat. 

Shot of the tournament

The accolade for the shot of the tournament will go to the 21-year old Oliver Davies. Sitting out in the first six games of the season, Davies got his first opportunity in Match 28. He played a handy cameo, scoring 26 not out off 12 balls. 

One of his two sixes was an effortless stroke over covers. He read the Rashid Khan googly to perfection and lofted it over extra cover, off the back foot. The nonchalance of the shot got to Sam Billings who couldn’t stop gushing over Davies' skills.

Almost there...

Xavier Bartlett almost carried the Heat home while defending two runs in the final over. He nailed three yorkers in a row to bring the equation down to a single off the last ball. 

But Sean Abbott kept his calm. He had pulled Sixers from 47/8 to the brink of completing the run chase of 106 in 16 overs. After coming so far, he was not going to let it go. Taking a few steps down the track, he flicked the last ball past the in-field to cap off an amazing win for the Sixers.

It was a heartbreak for Bartlett while the Sixers flexed their batting depth. Someone’s joy is another person’s despair. 

Sixers’ depth tested to the hilt

One of the most successful sides in the competitions’ history, Sixers secret is their depth across departments. Be it batting or bowling, they are always loaded with options. This year, however, was a unique one in the league. Covid led to many schedule changes and a lot of grade players were summoned to some BBL sides in the eleventh hour. 

Ahead of the Challenger game - a virtual semi-final - Josh Philippe’s positive covid test left them staring down the barrel to complete their XI. With no time left to draft in a replacement, they had to hand a debut to their assistant coach, Jay Lenton. As Lenton mentioned in the pre-game interview with Simon Katich, he got to know about the development only a few hours before the match. 

Match of the tournament

Unless we have a nail-biting final, the Challenger between Adelaide Strikers and Sydney Sixers will be the game of the tournament. Strikers recovered from 22/3 to post a formidable 167. 

Philippe was replaced by Lenton who kept the wickets but didn’t open the innings. Instead, Sixers made a strange choice of opening with Hayden Kerr who had batted all his seven innings until that point at number eight. The sun was shining on Kerr that day. After early reprieves, he made a magnificent 98 not out to help Sixers to a last ball victory. 

The more prominent batters in the side contributed only 26 runs off 42 balls. Kerr and the other bowling all-rounder, Abbott, scored 139 off 78 balls in between them. 

In a tactical masterclass, Sixers called back Jordan Silk before the final ball. Having pulled his hamstring earlier, Silk was unable to run, thus risking his team’s chances as the non-striker when 2 were required off the final ball. Hence, Lenton found himself at the crease at nine, albeit at the runner’s end, not required to face a ball. 

You can see that after a whirlwind ride, the last over had everything. Actually, it had more than you can ask for, including a misfield. Sixers hobbled into the final. Strikers’ amazing surge from the bottom of the points table to almost stepping into the final came to an end. 

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