Tom Curran made a dazzling contribution with the bat as Sydney Sixers recorded another emphatic victory over Perth Scorchers in the Big Bash League.

Having raced to an eight-wicket triumph when the two sides met in Sydney on December 18, the Sixers again proved far too strong for the Scorchers at Perth Stadium, winning by 48 runs.

After Daniel Hughes and Moises Henriques had both made 35, England all-rounder Curran thumped an unbeaten 43 from 21 deliveries - clubbing 24 in the final over alone - to power the visitors to 174-7 despite Chris Jordan returning 3-29.

Jackson Bird and Sean Abbott then claimed three wickets each as the Scorchers were bundled out for 126 in 18.1 overs, having initially slumped to 34-5.

Perth now have just one win from four games and face an uphill battle to finish in the top four, while the Sixers climb from sixth to third, albeit having played more matches than the sides around them.

 

CURRAN TAKES KELLY APART

After 19 overs, the Scorchers could be fairly satisfied with their efforts in the field, even though Hughes had taken advantage of being dropped on nought by a diving Ashton Agar.

However, a competitive score for the Sixers swiftly became an imposing one as Curran clubbed two fours and two sixes, as well as a pair of twos, in a painful final over for Scorchers bowler Matthew Kelly.

Curran finished the innings in style by clearing the long-on boundary and the Sixers entered the interval with significant momentum, while Kelly was left with abysmal figures of 1-50 from four overs.

 

EARLY BREAKTHROUGHS SCUPPER SCORCHERS

The Scorchers' hopes of chasing down 175 were effectively wiped out in 6.1 overs.

Bird struck in each of his first three sets of six, as Liam Livingstone (2), Cameron Bancroft (1) and Cameron Green (1) all flopped.

Josh Inglis also failed, falling to Curran for seven, and home skipper Mitchell Marsh was bowled by Abbott's first ball for 17, leaving his side with far too much to do.

Ashton Turner (28) and Kelly (23 not out) delayed the inevitable but Perth were soundly beaten.

Defending Big Bash League champions Melbourne Renegades crashed to a third consecutive defeat to start the season following a crushing loss to Hobart Hurricanes.

The Renegades' horror start to their BBL title defence continued on Tuesday – beaten by seven wickets at Blundstone Arena in Hobart.

Melbourne lost 8-38 as they were bowled out for 147 before Hobart – led by D'Arcy Short and Ben McDermott – chased down the total with five balls to spare on Christmas Eve.

The Renegades slumped to 0-3 following the devastating defeat, while the Hurricanes improved to 2-1.

 

RENEGADES IN A HOLE AFTER COLLAPSE

With Aaron Finch at the crease, the Renegades were looking comfortable in their pursuit of win number one this season.

After Sam Harper was dismissed for a duck and Shaun Marsh scored 37, Renegades captain Finch hit 50 off 36 balls to have the titleholders 109-2.

Then it turned sour for the Renegades. Finch chipped a shot to mid-wicket, sparking a stunning collapse against the Hurricanes.

The Renegades lost their final seven wickets in 23 balls – James Faulkner (3-26 from 3.1 overs), Nathan Ellis (3-15 from three overs), Riley Meredith (3-26 from four overs) and Qais Ahmad (1-23 from four overs) enjoying the ball.

 

SHORT AND MCDERMOTT STEER HURRICANES

The Renegades' capitulation opened the door for the Hurricanes, and Short and McDermott took full advantage.

Short set the tone after opener Simon Milenko and Caleb Jewell departed in the same Tom Cooper (2-32) over, hitting seven boundaries and a six for a 45-ball 60 in Hobart.

While he was trapped lbw by Cameron Boyce (1-20 from four overs), captain McDermott (51 not out) and David Miller (25 not out) sealed the win and heaped further misery on the Renegades.

 

MILLER SHOWS HIS POWER

There are big sixes and then there are big sixes.

South African import Miller sent a Harry Gurney delivery out of the ground in the 17th over to cap a miserable day for the visiting Renegades.

Jake Weatherald's electric 83 and a swift half-century from Alex Carey set the Adelaide Strikers on their way before Rashid Khan played a crucial role in an entertaining 15-run victory over the Perth Scorchers in the Big Bash League.

The Strikers made an impressive 198-4 from 18 overs after a rain delay led to a slightly shortened match, with Weatherald putting on 86 for the second wicket with Matt Short (34).

Carey whacked 55 off just 24 balls as the Strikers posted an imposing total at Adelaide Oval in the annual Indigenous celebration match on Monday.

The Scorchers made a flying start in reply, with Josh Inglis (50) and Liam Livingstone (69) putting on 124 for the first wicket.

But the brilliant Rashid (3-40) stopped the Scorchers in their tracks, dismissing both openers and quickly removing Ashton Turner (4) as the runs dried up for the visitors, who were 183-7 after their 18 overs.

The Strikers are consequently up and running for the campaign, while the Scorchers have lost two of their three matches.


WEATHER GRIM, WEATHERALD BRILLIANT

A rain shower early in the Strikers' innings caused a slight delay but it did little to dampen the spirits of Weatherald.

The opener cracked three sixes and 10 fours from 47 deliveries before being brilliantly run out by Jhye Richardson.

He may have fallen short of what would have been a deserved century but Carey dished out more punishment, adding a brisk 55 - including eight fours and a couple of sixes.

 

LIVINGSTONE, INGLIS MAKE STRIKERS SWEAT

Livingstone earned a maiden BBL fifty off just his 21st delivery with a mammoth strike over deep square leg in the eighth over and followed that up with another wallop for six.

He contributed seven sixes and five fours in a bulldozing knock, while Inglis was also flying with a half-century of his own.

The duo helped the Scorchers reach 124 for no loss, but then spinner Rashid had his say.

 

RASHID ROCKS SCORCHERS REPLY

It was not Rashid's best delivery by any means but Livingstone paid the price for an ill-advised front-front slog that resulted only in holing out to Phil Salt in the deep.

From the very next ball, the brilliant Rashid saw the back of Inglis to completely alter the momentum of the game.

Turner fared little better, edging behind off Rashid in the 11th over. From there, only three players added double-digit scores with Wes Agar (2-36) playing his part.

Chris Lynn bludgeoned a rapid 94 as Brisbane Heat got up and running in the Big Bash League with a 48-run drubbing of Sydney Sixers at the SCG on Sunday.

The Heat were in need of a lift after losing their opening two matches and captain Lynn ignited their campaign with a brutal knock, smashing 11 of the 35 balls he faced for six and hitting a further four boundaries.

Lynn's innings inspired Brisbane to their joint-highest score in Big Bash history, while Matt Renshaw struck an unbeaten 60 from 39 deliveries in an imposing total of 209-4, which proved to be more than enough.

Mitchell Swepson took 2-27 in an impressive all-round display from Darren Lehmann's side, James Vince top scoring for the Sixers with 39 as they suffered a second defeat from three matches.

Sydney could only post 161-7 in their run chase, the Heat bowling with good discipline and variation in a comfortable win.

 

LETHAL LYNN LEAVES SIXERS SHELLSHOCKED

Lynn produced a masterclass of clean striking, putting the Sixers attack to the sword after arriving at the crease when Sean Abbott removed Max Bryant with his first ball in the second over.

The Brisbane captain fell for single figures in his first two knocks of the 2019-20 Big Bash but flexed his muscles in an extraordinary knock.

Lynn was relentless, keeping the crowd on their toes with a barrage of huge sixes, hitting straight down the ground and to leg, reaching his half-century off only 20 balls with a massive maximum off Tom Curran.

He holed out to Ben Manenti attempting to reach his century with another six, but Renshaw dished out more punishment, hitting three maximums to get the Heat over the 200 mark.

 

SIXERS STUTTER IN REPLY

Renshaw was not finished yet, bowling Daniel Hughes in the second over, and the Sixers were 61-2 in the ninth over when Zahir Khan had the dangerous Josh Philippe stumped.

Vince showed his class with a brisk 39 before falling to Swepson and Moises Henriques clattered Ben Cutting onto the roof prior to top-edging Ben Laughlin to wicketkeeper Jimmy Peirson.

Swepson had his second wicket when Curran's attempted ramp went straight to Lynn at short man, leaving Sydney 100-5 in the 14th over.

 

BRISBANE KEEP THE HEAT ON

The Heat attack continued to bowl with excellent variation, keeping the run rate down as the wickets carried on tumbling.

Abbott made an unbeaten 22 in a late cameo, but the game was long since over with the Sixers falling well short of their target.

Haris Rauf starred as the Melbourne Stars made it back-to-back wins to begin their Big Bash League campaign with a thrashing of the Hobart Hurricanes.

Marcus Stoinis (unbeaten 81) guided the Stars to 163-4 after they elected to bat first in Moe on Sunday.

Hobart, who were also coming into the clash on the back of a win, were only briefly any chance in their chase.

Clive Rose (32 not out) was their top-scorer as Rauf (5-27) ripped through the Hurricanes' batting order, Hobart bowled out for 111 to give the Stars a 52-run win.

 

RAUF TAKES HIS CHANCE

Rauf was only called up to the Stars' squad as cover for injured South African star Dale Steyn.

The 25-year-old Pakistani has grabbed his chance, backing up his decent start, having taken 2-20 in the Stars' win over the Brisbane Heat.

Rauf went through Hobart's middle- and lower-orders in a hugely impressive performance.

While Steyn is a huge recruit for the Stars, they can afford not to rush the 36-year-old back from his side strain.

SUPER STOINIS STEPS UP

Stoinis produced the best innings of the game with his 54-ball 81, which included seven fours and four sixes.

The right-hander was dropped off his first ball – Rose (0-12) putting down a return chance – while he provided another opportunity the Hurricanes messed up when he was on five.

Stoinis punished Hobart for those mistakes, with his 81-run opening partnership with Nic Maddinson (40) setting up the innings.

MIDDLE-ORDER WOE FOR HOBART

The Hurricanes lost 34-8 during their innings after Caleb Jewell (25) and D'Arcy Short (9) had put on 30 for the first wicket.

Rauf was the chief destroyer as the Stars managed to bowl five Hurricanes batsmen.

Hobart were never able to slow the loss of wickets as seven batsmen failed to reach double figures.

Perth Scorchers recorded their first win in the 2019-20 Big Bash League on Saturday, coming out on top in a high-scoring game with Melbourne Renegades on Saturday.

Mitchell Marsh hammered 56 from 22 balls as he prevailed in the family battle against brother Shaun, who made 55 against his former team in a Renegades run chase that came up short in the final reckoning.

Cameron Bancroft also hit a half-century for Perth to help them post 196-7, though Melbourne were in a promising position when they started the 17th over on 156-3.

However, they lost three wickets in a hurry - including the dismissal of Dan Christian to a stunning catch in the deep by Chris Jordan - as the Scorchers eventually triumphed by 11 runs.

Ben Webster finished up unbeaten on 67 from 37 deliveries yet it was the hosts who were celebrating in the end at Perth Stadium, as they left the reigning champions without a victory two games in to their title defence.

 

KANE STARS BUT RENEGADES STRUGGLE

Perth made a mess of batting first in their opener against Sydney Sixers, when they were bowled out for 131, but prospered this time around after losing the toss.

Liam Livingstone made 29 before falling to Lancashire team-mate Richard Gleeson, while Bancroft's 50 - along with 36 from Ashton Turner - set up Mitchell Marsh for an impressive late onslaught.

The all-rounder launched six sixes as the Melbourne attack toiled bar Kane Richardson, who made sure Perth's final total remained under 200 by returning impressive figures of 4-22.

His economical four-over spell included 11 dot balls, while he also held on to a sharp return catch to dismiss Ashton Agar.

 

SIBLING RIVALRY SPARKS EXCITEMENT

The crowd relished the opportunity to watch the Marsh brothers go up against each other in Melbourne's innings, with Mitchell getting the chance to bowl at his older sibling.

Having decided as captain to bring himself on for the seventh over, Mitchell even had to abort his first attempt at a run-up to increase the tension, leading to a wry smile from the bowler.

However, the head-to-head battle fell a little flat, Shaun managing two singles from the pair of deliveries he faced during Mitchell's two-over spell.

 

'AIR JORDAN' DOES IT AGAIN

Shaun Marsh and Webster's 92-run stand had the Renegades right in the contest, only for the game to turn crucially in the Scorchers' favour in the 18th over.

The excellent Fawad Ahmed (2-22) finished his work with the ball by taking two crucial wickets, starting with the leg-spinner tempting Marsh to hit straight to Jordan in the deep.

However, while that chance was straightforward, Jordan produced a sensational grab later in the same over to send back Christian. Having made ground to his right from his position at long on, the England international produced a full-length dive - with both feet off the ground - to cling on to the opportunity.

Adelaide Strikers' first Big Bash League match of the season against Sydney Thunder was abandoned due to smoke at Manuka Oval on Saturday.

Jono Wells blasted 55 off 32 balls and captain Alex Carey made 45 as the Strikers posted 161-5 from their 20 overs.

The Thunder, top of the table with two wins out of two, were 40-1 from 4.1 overs in reply when the players were taken off the field due to poor air quality as a result of bushfires.

They were unable to return on safety grounds following a thorough assessment of conditions, so both sides had to settle for a point.

 

 

SAMS THE MAN

Daniel Sams claimed two wickets in victories over both Brisbane Heat and Melbourne Renegades and added another couple to his tally, removing both openers.

He had BBL debutant Phil Salt caught by Arjun Nair at short fine leg without scoring in the first over, which was a wicket maiden.

The all-rounder also cleaned up Jake Weatherald with a clever slower ball, reducing the Strikers to 68-3 in the 11th over.

 

ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELLS

The Strikers may have had concerns that they would fall short of a competitive total when Carey holed out off Chris Morris five short of a half-century.

Adil Rashid was dismissed for a golden duck to leave the 2017-18 champions five down, but a great knock from Wells got them up to what was probably a par total.

He struck two boundaries off the penultimate over from the otherwise economical Sams and scooped Morris for four to reach his 50 off only 28 balls, clearing the ropes twice in an entertaining innings.   

 

STANLAKE STRIKES, FERGUSON FRUSTRATED

Usman Khawaja and Alex Hales put on 99 for the first wicket in a defeat of defending champions the Renegades on Thursday, but the Australia left-hander fell in the first over two days later.

Billy Stanlake dismissed Khawaja without scoring, drawing an edge with a wide delivery, with Cameron White juggling to somehow hold onto a catch at first slip with Carey diving in front of him.

Captain Callum Ferguson was looking ominous on 27 and Hales had 11 to his name when play was halted.

Glenn Maxwell struck a spectacular 83 from 39 deliveries on his return to competitive cricket as Melbourne Stars got their Big Bash League campaign off to a winning start with a 22-run victory over Brisbane Heat.

Australia batsman Maxwell, who in October decided to take a break from cricket for mental health reasons, was in inspired form as he lifted his side to a total of 167-7 in Carrara.

England youngster Tom Banton threatened to lead the Heat to their target, but Brisbane lost their way after the opener was dismissed by Adam Zampa (3-30) for a 36-ball 64.

Although Matt Renshaw reached 39, Brisbane were limited to 145-8, with Zampa, Daniel Worrall (2-21) and debutant Haris Rauf (2-20) doing the bulk of the damage.

The Heat have now lost their opening two games while the Stars will look to build on a win that owed much to Maxwell's stunning return.

MILLION-DOLLAR MAXWELL RETURNS IN STYLE

Maxwell had not played since scoring 62 for Australia in a Twenty20 against Sri Lanka in Adelaide in October, but the all-rounder looked like he had never been away.

A day on from the Indian Premier League auction, he showed just why Kings XI Punjab elected to pay $1.5million for his services.

After reaching 50 from just 23 balls, Maxwell continued to toy with Brisbane's attack, sending Josh Lalor for two sixes in an over and taking his boundary tally to 12 before he was bowled by Ben Laughlin in the final over of the Stars innings.

"[It's a] nice way to start a tournament. The boys bowled beautifully 'til the end when Tom Banton was batting well and they pulled things back," Maxwell told reporters.

"We've got some strength in our bowling, guys like Sandeep [Lamichhane], and Haris Rauf was outstanding. I feel we've really covered all bases this year. I've been feeling good all summer and just the mental side of the game I need to get right."

RAUF HITS THE MARK ON HIS DEBUT

Seamer Rauf was handed his first start in the BBL, and the 26-year-old took his opportunity to impress.

After an expensive second over from Lamichhane, Rauf was drafted into Melbourne's attack early, and made the ideal start by dismissing Max Bryant with his first delivery.

Banton had the better of Rauf, but after a spell out of the attack, he kept things tight late in the innings following the excellent work of Zampa and rounded off the win by taking Mitchell Swepson's wicket in the final over.

Spin sensation Qais Ahmad starred with four wickets and an eye-catching somersault celebration as Hobart Hurricanes beat Sydney Sixers by 25 runs in the Big Bash League on Friday.

Ahmad took 4-12 in four overs, as well as running out Daniel Hughes with a direct hit from mid-on in Alice Springs, where the Sixers collapsed from 48-1 to 61-8 before being bowled out for 104.

Hobart's score of 129-9 owed much to opener D'Arcy Short, whose 51 represented comfortably the highest score of the contest.

Josh Philippe (24), the star of the Sixers' opening-game win over Perth Scorchers, and James Vince (18) had their side on course in reply, but Ahmad then took centre stage in spectacular fashion.

 

SHORT GETS THINGS STARTED

Short, the top-scorer in the 2017-18 BBL, made a crucial contribution with his 40-ball knock, which contained five fours and a solitary six.

The opener timed the ball sweetly and went on to claim three catches in the field as part of a fine display.

David Miller (16), Ben McDermott (15) and George Bailey (12) were the only other Hobart batsmen to reach double figures, with Sean Abbott (3-20), Tom Curran (2-30) and Ben Dwarshuis (2-25) all returning impressive figures for the Sixers.

 

 

AHMAD THE HERO

While Short led the supporting cast, Ahmad was the hero for the Hurricanes and he had the celebrations to match.

The 19-year-old Afghanistan star wreaked havoc, taking 4-5 from his first 10 deliveries.

After executing a brilliant run-out to dismiss Hughes (2), Ahmad quickly claimed the scalps of Moises Henriques (2), Curran (1), Abbott (0) and Dwarshuis (2).

The Curran wicket brought additional excitement as a jubilant Ahmad, who is known for his acrobatics, launched into a front flip.

There was no way back for the Sixers. Jordan Silk and Ben Manenti each made 22, but their efforts only delayed the inevitable.

James Faulkner (2-11 from 2.5 overs), Simon Milenko (2-29 from four overs) and Riley Meredith (1-10 from four overs) also played key roles for Hobart.

Alex Hales and Usman Khawaja made rapid half-centuries as Sydney Thunder beat defending champions Melbourne Renegades by six wickets at GMHBA Stadium.

The Thunder beat the much-fancied Brisbane Heat in the opening match of the tournament on Tuesday and they were too good for the Renegades in Geelong.

New signing Shaun Marsh top scored with 42 before he was brilliantly caught by Daniel Sams, who also took 2-26, as Melbourne posted 169-5 after winning the toss.

Arjun Nair claimed 2-32 to restrict the Renegades in their first match with Michael Klinger as coach and the Thunder reached their target with two balls to spare.

Hales (68 from 38 balls) and Khawaja (66 off 46) put on 99 for the first wicket to set Sydney well on their way to victory, which was secured despite impressive displays with the ball from Harry Gurney (2-26) and the wicketless Kane Richardson (0-18).

 

MARSH MAKES HIS MARK BEFORE SAMS STUNNER

Big things are expected of Marsh after he left Perth Scorchers to join the holders in a multi-year deal.

The experienced left-hander looked in great touch in his first outing for his new side, striking a six and finding the ropes five times, but he was on his way when Sams produced a stunning catch on the deep midwicket boundary to give Nair a second wicket.

Sam Harper and Aaron Finch got Melbourne off to a flyer with an opening stand of 55 from five overs, but Nair dismissed the captain after the excellent Sams saw the back of wicketkeeper-batsman Harper.

 

KHAWAJA AND HALES PUT THUNDER WELL ON COURSE

Sydney restricted the Renegades to 80 runs off their last 10 overs thanks to some disciplined bowling and it was clear the champions' total was insufficient as Khawaja and Hales piled on the runs.

The openers took the Thunder to 74 without loss at the halfway mark of the run chase, with Khawaja having much more of the strike, slog-sweeping Cameron Boyce for six and striking eight fours before falling to Gurney.

Hales took centre stage with Khawaja gone, the powerful right-hander clattering Boyce and Dan Christian into the stands prior to departing when he struck Nottinghamshire team-mate Gurney to Richardson at deep midwicket.

 

SLOPPY RENEGADES MADE TO PAY

As good as Khawaja and man-of-the-match Hales were with the bat, the Renegades did not do themselves any favours.

Skipper Finch was among those guilty of gifting the Thunder boundaries with sloppy fielding.

Alex Ross sealed victory with a fierce straight drive off the final over from Melbourne new boy Richard Gleeson, who snared Callum Ferguson lbw and ran Matt Gilkes out on debut.

Josh Philippe played a starring role with an unbeaten 81 from 44 balls as Sydney Sixers got their Big Bash League campaign off to a superb start with an eight-wicket thrashing of last year's bottom side, Perth Scorchers.

Champions in 2016-17 and 2017-18, the Scorchers endured a miserable campaign last term, winning just four games as they picked up the wooden spoon.

There was more pain for Perth at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Wednesday as they were limited to 131 all out after losing the toss and Philippe hurried the Sixers to victory with five overs to spare.

Tom Curran (3-32), Ben Dwarshuis (2-15) and Ben Manenti (2-21) were chiefly responsible for keeping Perth to a score that looked well below par, while wicketkeeper Philippe produced an eye-catching piece of work to stump Cameron Bancroft off a Steve O'Keefe wide.

If the Sixers were strong favourites at the change of innings, their victory soon became inevitable as Philippe took the Scorchers attack apart, dominating a first-wicket partnership of 73 in 7.4 overs with Daniel Hughes (22)

Hughes and James Vince (13) both fell to Chris Jordan, who was comfortably the pick of the visiting attack with 2-13 from three overs, but it mattered little as Philippe finished with 11 fours and three sixes to his name, his last maximum over deep midwicket providing a fitting end to the contest.

 

DISMAL START SETS TONE FOR SCORCHERS

Virtually nothing went right for Perth from the moment opener Liam Livingstone was given lbw to Dwarshuis for a duck in the first over, despite the ball pitching outside leg stump.

Philippe's smart stumping sent Bancroft packing two deliveries later and, although Josh Inglis thumped four eye-catching boundaries, two further wickets in successive overs left the Scorchers 29-4. 

Skipper Mitch Marsh and Cameron Green made 32 and 36 respectively, but it was nowhere near enough and an end-of-innings collapse followed. 

 

FAWAD'S CAMEO TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE

There was a glimmer of hope for Perth when number 11 Fawad Ahmed responded to being dropped at the end of the 19th over by clattering two sixes and a four off Curran in the innings' final set of six.

Yet a total of 131 was soon shown to be woefully inadequate as Philippe took centre stage. 

 

PHILIPPE PROVIDES PERFECT FINISH

Having smashed Perth bowlers to all parts and enjoyed particular success over cover, Philippe finished the match in style.

A mighty blow over midwicket off Jhye Richardson saw the ball end up on the roof of the Ladies Pavilion and summed up the Sixers' dominance of the contest.

 

Captain Callum Ferguson led from the front as Sydney Thunder eased to a 29-run win over Brisbane Heat in the Big Bash League opener.

Ferguson called correctly and opted to bat at the Gabba, top scoring with an unbeaten 73 from 44 deliveries as the Thunder posted 172-6 against their much-vaunted opponents.

The 35-year-old paced his innings superbly, hitting six fours and three maximums to lead a recovery from 38-3 in the fifth over.

Alex Ross and Chris Green played fine supporting hands with 30 and 25 respectively.

Despite some early lusty blows from dangermen Tom Banton and Chris Lynn, the Heat were unable to find a contribution of similar substance to Ferguson's knock.

Matthew Renshaw (26) and Ben Cutting (28) mustered the only significant resistance as wickets tumbled around them – Brisbane's big hitters repeatedly falling foul of excellent Sydney catching in the deep.

Leg-spinner Jonathan Cook impressed with the key scalps of openers Banton (16) and Max Bryant (11), while Green concluded a handy all-round performance with 2-19 as the Heat's tail subsided.

FERGUSON PLAYS HIS HAND TO PERFECTION

"You don't win too many when you're three down in the powerplay," Ferguson said afterwards as he collected the man of the match award.

It needed his astutely judged innings to overcome those odds, with immaculate shot selection the key in a match where batsmen on each side fell foul of taking on the Gabba's huge boundaries.

Booming sixes over deep midwicket and long on were his reward in the penultimate over of the Thunder's innings, with Ferguson forcing the old adage of making the attack bowl to him. Josh Lalor's mis-directed yorkers were dealt with brutally.

 

LYNN LIKELY TO RETHINK SWEPSON PLAN

Cook's success underlined the impression Brisbane captain Lynn under-used his own leg-spinner.

Mitchell Swepson had Ross caught by his skipper at third man and bowled Daniel Sams with a wonderful googly through the gate next ball.

However, that was his second and last over of the innings, leaving him with figures of 2-11.

As Ferguson and Green steered the Thunder merrily towards their winning total from that point, it was hard to escape the conclusion Lynn had missed a trick.

 

SAMS LAUGHS LAST AFTER ALL-TIME BBL BLOOPER

Sydney left-arm seamer Sams had the last laugh, if not the longest one at the Gabba, as he removed last man Ben Laughlin.

That meant figures of 2-34 after he bowled Cutting with a brilliant yorker – a delivery of sharply contrasting accuracy to the most memorable moment of the contest.

Having been hit for a pair of languid, luscious sixes by England youngster Banton, Sams attempted a slower delivery, only for the ball to fly sideways out of the top of his hand.

As the square-leg umpire signalled dead ball with the ball trickling towards his feet, an unwanted viral sensation was about to go global.

Steve Smith will make a long-awaited Big Bash League return and AB de Villiers should ignite the Brisbane Heat in a shortened tournament with a new finals format.

Smith, the best Test batsman in the world, will feature in the competition for the first time since 2014 after rejoining the Sydney Sixers.

Maverick former South Africa batsman De Villiers will make his BBL debut for a Heat side who have been installed as bookmakers' favourites, with former Australia boss Darren Lehmann returning as head coach.

The Melbourne Renegades are expected to mount a strong challenge to retain a title they won in February with a derby defeat of Melbourne Stars, who have will Dale Steyn in their attack for six matches.

There will also be a welcome return for Glenn Maxwell, back in action for the Stars after taking a break to deal with personal mental health issues.

Here, we examine teams and players to look out for and explain changes to the schedule for the 2019-20 edition, which gets under way when the Heat face the Thunder at The Gabba on Tuesday.

 

FINALS REVAMP PART OF SCHEDULE CHANGE

There were calls for change due to dwindling crowds in an eighth edition of the tournament that dragged on too long.

Cricket Australia has taken note of criticism, reducing the length of the competition from 54 to 42 days and revamping the finals format.

There will be 15 days with two matches played in order to cut the length of the BBL.

Five of the eight teams will reach the finals rather than four, with the sides in first and second place at the end of the regular season having two chances to reach the final.

 

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER FOR SMITH

Sixers fans have had to wait a long time to see Smith in their side and they will have to hope his arrival does not come when their title chances are over.

The former Australia captain, part of the Sixers squad that won the inaugural Big Bash in January 2012, will not be available until the back end of the competition due to Australia commitments.

Josh Hazlewood is also scheduled to join the Sixers after featuring for Australia following the Test series against New Zealand and ODIs in India, with the hope he will be fully fit after suffering a hamstring injury in the first Test against the Black Caps.

 

MARSH AND NEW COACH CAN HELP RENEGADES KLING ON TO TITLE

Michael Klinger took over as Renegades coach after Andrew McDonald was appointed Australia assistant coach in October.

McDonald will be a hard act to follow, but the addition of batsman Shaun Marsh is a big coup for the defending champions.

Disciplined bowling was key to their maiden BBL triumph and they have managed to retain left-arm seamer Harry Gurney, while big things will be expected of Kane Richardson once again.

 

HEAT SHOULD WARM TO THE TASK UNDER LEHMANN

Brisbane handed Lehmann his first role coaching role since he quit as Australia boss following the Newlands ball-tampering scandal in March 2018. Lehmann was cleared of involvement in that ploy.

Lehmann, who replaces Daniel Vettori, oversaw the Heat's 2012-13 Big Bash title success and it would be no surprise if he celebrates a repeat.

De Villiers will make his debut for Brisbane, while explosive England batsman Tom Banton, Ben Laughlin, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Zahir Khan are also exciting additions.

Australia star Glenn Maxwell will make his return to cricket this month and lead Melbourne Stars into the new Big Bash League season.

All-rounder Maxwell announced he would be taking a short break from cricket to address "difficulties" relating to his mental health during Australia's T20I series against Sri Lanka at the end of October.

The Stars, who lost to Melbourne Renegades in the BBL final last year, confirmed the 31-year-old had joined their pre-season camp ahead of their first match in the competition against Brisbane Heat on December 20.

"We're pleased to see Glenn in green and ready to lead our side with a big season ahead," said Stars coach David Hussey.

"He's an incredible talent and a key part of our club but health and wellbeing comes first and it's important that he's been able to take some time away to focus on that."

After an initial absence, Maxwell has been stepping up his schedule, playing club cricket and training with the Victoria Sheffield Shield squad.

He has scored three centuries and had a further seven fifties for Australia in T20 cricket and is also expected to be involved in the Indian Premier League auction later this month.

Maxwell recently told reporters he had felt "mentally and physically ruined" from living out of a suitcase and believed spending four or five years on the road with his cricket commitments had taken its toll.

Veteran West Indies opener Chris Gayle has announced that he is taking a break for the remainder of the year.

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