BBL12, By 17 runs, Brisbane Heat 154 (Labuschagne 46, Conway 3-36) defeated Adelaide Strikers 137 for 9 (Short 39, Bazley 3-30). With a 17-run win against Adelaide Strikers in hot circumstances, Brisbane Heat resurrected their ailing BBL season and ruined the returns of Travis Head and Alex Carey.
Heat managed a modest 154 after being put in in temperatures approaching 40 degrees Celsius at the Adelaide Oval. However, they bowled well, with seamer James Bazley taking three wickets to frustrate the Strikers’ star-studded batting order and spoil former Heat star Chris Lynn’s last BBL match of the season. Heat defeated Strikers for the second time this season to move off the bottom of the table.
Johnson’s quickness impresses once again
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Tearaway Spencer Johnson, who made his BBL debut, was a bright light in the Heat’s dramatic home defeat to the Perth Scorchers. There was curiosity as to whether the left-arm fast could back it up, and Johnson did exactly that with a maiden over to start, hitting speeds of 150kmh to startle Lynn. Johnson was so brilliant that Australian great Adam Gilchrist compared the 27-year-old to his namesake Mitchell Johnson on Fox.
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Johnson, who had previously played for South Australia in the 50-over Marsh Cup and was on the Adelaide Strikers’ roster last season, was brought back down to earth in his next over by a typically courageous Lynn. He returned in the 16th over amid a power surge and kept his composure admirably. Johnson then got his first BBL wicket with a superb yorker to dismiss Wes Agar, capping off another outstanding effort.
The Strikers’ star-studded batting order fails to produce. There was a lot of excitement around the return of captain Head, whose aggressive Test hitting against the West Indies and South Africa seemed to have him set for the BBL. Head, however, only lasted two balls before being bowled by left-arm spinner Matthew Kuhnemann, much to the chagrin of the home crowd.
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Lynn was eager to cap off his great first season with Strikers on a positive note, and he began with a stunning drive to the boundary against Kuhnemann. But he was stymied by Johnson before succumbing to Kuhnemann for 22 off 24 balls. Lynn concluded with 416 runs at a strike rate of 141 from 11 matches, which was a letdown. Alex Carey, who had returned from Test duty, was out in the following over for two runs, and the Strikers’ pursuit never recovered.
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Labuschagne comes just short of his first BBL half-century
The return of Test trio Marnus Labuschagne, Matthew Renshaw, and captain Usman Khawaja did not ignite the Heat against the Scorchers. They planned to capitalize on the normally batting-friendly Adelaide Oval, but Khawaja was out for two in the third over before Labuschagne and Renshaw turned things around with a 42-run third-wicket stand. Renshaw seemed to be in good form, but couldn’t capitalize for the second game in a row.
Labuschagne led the innings with ingenuity, including well-executed scoops, as he sought his first BBL half-century in his 19th match. However, he fell short, and Heat labored in the second half. Sam Hain, an English hitter who grew up largely in Australia and played for their Under-19s team, was unfortunate to be run out at the non-end striker’s following a touch from spinner Ben Manenti in his follow-through. He only made six, but Heat had put up a total that was shockingly more than enough.
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Boyce reverses the clock
Cameron Boyce, a former Australia T20 legspinner, has proved to be an excellent alternative for talisman Rashid Khan, who went to play in South Africa’s new T20 competition. The 33-year-old had bowled well but not well enough in the Strikers’ previous two outings before making an impression on a sluggish surface with some spin. With the Strikers under pressure from big-hitting opener Josh Brown, he entered the attack in the sixth over.
Boyce cleverly used speed off the ball to entice Brown into a false shot, giving him his first wicket of the season. He then bowled brilliantly in the middle overs, breaking Renshaw and Labuschagne’s threatening combination. Boyce thankfully picked up Renshaw’s wicket with a half-tracker but was rewarded after creating pressure by varying his pace.
Boyce’s career was sidetracked by injury after he was a much-hyped talent, playing seven T20Is from 2014-16 until he stunningly re-emerged late last season for Melbourne Renegades against Sydney Thunder. It led to his recruitment by Strikers, who were looking for an acceptable backup for Rashid, which has been prophetic so far. Boyce left the field with a suspected calf problem after finishing his four-over period, and Strikers will be hoping it is not a major issue.
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