Callum Ferguson brought the house down at the Gabba with a superbly crafted innings that not only helped Sydney Thunder get to a win easily but also gave them a template to follow. However, by no means was it a game that the BBL organizers would have wanted their first match to be.
It might not have been the most entertaining of the that the Big Bash League would have liked to have as the tournament opener, but it was a game of fine dualities that invariably made it one to remember for a long time. Callum Ferguson played a fine innings to pull the Thunder out of the woods and took them to a respectable score of 172 runs alongside 'veteran' Chris Green. While Swepson was the pick of the bowlers for the home side, Zahir Khan was responsible for pulling the strings, as he conceded just 27 runs in four overs.
Chasing 173 was not going to be easy, as Matt Renshaw assessed in his mic’d up avatar and he was right. Although Daniel Sams was expensive, Jonathan Cook tightened the noose with regular strikes and found a perfect ally in the form of Green, who just recently signed a six-year deal with the Thunder. Until Ben Cutting was out in the middle, there was hope for the hosts but a ripping yorker by Sams ended his stay in the middle. Sams also brought the curtains down in the game, dismissing Ben Laughlin, as Thunder started their campaign in style.
It had to be the 17th over of the Thunder innings in which Chirs Green took the attack on Ben Laughlin and added 14 runs in that over. Losing wickets at the other end at regular intervals, Ferguson was under pressure and that took the pressure off the skipper. That invariably had a ripple effect on the team’s fortunes as Ferguson, with minor contributions from Arjun Nair, added 29 runs in the last two overs to help them to a winning total.
Highs and Lows
The high, for me, has to be the twin sixes hit by Tom Banton into the stands. The Somerset rookie, who had set few eyebrows raising for his effortless strokeplay, played the stroke with such audacity that had left many gasping for breath and for sure, set the pulse running. Those two sixes to Daniel Sams would be enough for the fans to be hooked to Brisbane Heat games as the season goes forward.
The game might have turned in Thunder’s favour in their 18th over, but the following over had to be the biggest low for the Heat, one that ensured they were lagging behind in the game. Josh Lalor was fantastic for a major part of the day but Ferguson was just brutal in his last over, scoring 16 off it to guide the Thunder beyond 170 runs. Heat could have salvaged some pride but on a sluggish wicket, it was not going to be easy.
Powerplay exploitation: - ST (4.5/10), BH (3/10)
With Josh Lalor and Mark Steketee bowling tight lines, it became extremely difficult for the Thunder top-order to break free in the powerplay. Both Usman Khawaja and Alex Hales gave their all but the big square boundaries played to their hands. The combination of swing and seam movements resulted in the trio of Lalor, Steketee and brilliant Ben Laughlin reducing the visitors to a mere 44 while also scalping three wickets.
Brisbane Heat, who boast of one of the best batting line-ups in the BBL this season, failed to maximize to their benefit despite Tom Banton hitting two effortless sixes in the first over. While 46 runs in a run chase of 173 runs is not that bad, losing three wickets is, especially if the three of them happen to be your three main batsmen. The triumvirate of Banton, Max Bryant and Chris Lynn are all superstars when it comes to heavy-lifting and unfortunately for Heat, today was just not their day.
Death Bowling: - ST (8/10), BH (4/10)
With wickets tumbling in the first 10 overs, Callum Ferguson had to bat cautiously until the 15th over and cautiously bat he did to make a game out of nothing. With Mitchell Swepson being taken out of the attack, Ferguson took the hitting on Lalor and Steketee in the death overs, alongside Chris Green, as the Thunder reached a total of 172 runs - seven runs more than their coach Shane Bond had predicted to be a safe total at the Gabba. 60 runs in the last five, you got to give them a solid eight for it.
By the time Brisbane Heat entered the last five overs of the run-chase, the game had already dropped out of their hands, with Thunder being the heavy favourites to win. But the way the visitors managed to hold on to their strengths and delivered slower balls, it deserved credit. A total of three wickets fell between the 16th and 17th over, making Thunder’s death bowling a solid prospect to look forward to in the games to come.
Ground Fielding and Catching: (BH 7.5/10, ST 4.5/10)
As far as Brisbane Heat’s ground fielding and catching go, it was right up there apart from a couple of failures to stop the ball on the boundary line. The fielders were agile, up for the task, with Sam Heazlett grabbing a fine running catch to dismiss Usman Khawaja. Zahir Khan was the only player who was shaky on the field, but hey, cut him some slack for the economical four overs he bowled today. Not a regular thing at Gabba, is it?
On the contrary, Sydney Thunder, despite ending up on the winning side, failed to get their acts right, with regular misfields and failed run-out chances. The one that Green failed to collect could and should have been the end of Ben Cutting straight away as did Nathan McAndrew’s effort at the boundary line that gave Mark Steketee a life and a six, all on one ball. The Thunder need to pull up their socks in the field before they take on Melbourne Renegades at the Simonds Stadium in Geelong.
Did Callum Ferguson remind you of that girl, who was silent in the entire party, only having a virgin mojito, but once the party is over and you are in your car, ready to leave, she would sing the best melody you would have ever heard? Ferguson was the star, showstopper and despite Chris Green’s heroics, he emerged as the Thunder’s main man today. You might never have been assured of his presence in the middle, he might not have threatened to take the game away, but he was all silky and finesse. A class act, if that is appropriate.
Spectator Rating Meter - Average
There were fleeting moments in which the game was super easy and enjoyable but that never lasted beyond those moments. Ferguson’s innings was enjoyable, as were Chris Green and Tom Banton’s, but that was about it. By failing to push up in the run chase, Brisbane Heat bored us to death and I would go with “Average”.