All-round Scorchers crush Renegades
Perth Scorchers 187 for 3 (Marsh 85, Gibbs 56) beat Melbourne Renegades 136 (Rohrer 52, Thomas 4-8) by 51 runs
Perth Scorchers have breathed life into the Big Bash League with an almost perfect performance at the WACA to crush the unbeaten Melbourne Renegades and keep their finals hopes on track. The home side's much vaunted batting line-up finally clicked in the manner it did during last year's campaign, combining for the highest total of the tournament after they were sent in to bat.
Shaun Marsh and Herschelle Gibbs put together their second-best ever partnership of 78, only eclipsed by the 95 they combined for against the Renegades in Melbourne last season. That night, Marsh made a breathtaking 99 not out, enough to earn him a recall to the Test team. His form since must have made the twelve months seem like a lifetime. But tonight the confidence returned, although he played second fiddle to Gibbs early on.
The South African had gone nine innings for the Scorchers without a half-century. Tonight he set the tone with some extraordinary strokes, moving around the crease to hit powerfully over both the off side and leg. Gibbs crushed 56 in just 39 balls with four fours and four sixes. Marsh was just 19 from 18 when Gibbs holed out off Aaron Finch.
It brought together Marsh and Adam Voges. The pair combined for 82 in the Scorchers' opening match against Adelaide Strikers and tonight they were even better. Their experience and skill yielded 106 runs from 60 balls tonight. What was most astonishing was their ability to score off all bar one delivery of those 60, against the most miserly attack in the Big Bash.
Marsh launched four sixes in seven balls late in the innings to ensure the Scorchers posted a towering total of 3 for 187.
The Renegades had chased successfully in their first four matches but had not conceded more than 167 before tonight. Their pursuit started poorly as the leading run-scorer of the tournament, Finch, edged debutant Jason Behrendorff behind in the second over. Alfonso Thomas dismissed both Marlon Samuels and Daniel Harris caught behind to leave the Renegades in dire straits at 3 for 24. Wicketkeeper Tom Triffitt pouched all three catches, on his way to five for the night, a T20 record in Australia.
Ben Rohrer revived hopes quickly when he struck four fours and a six off Behrendorff's third over. Rohrer raced to his first half-century of his T20 career off just 32 balls. It is a staggering statistic, given the quality of his play throughout this tournament, yet fitting for a man who continues to fly under the radar.
But when Behrendorff exacted revenge on Rohrer the game was effectively over. William Sheridan gifted a catch to mid-on, first ball, to give the debutant three scalps.
Thomas returned to claim two of the last three wickets to finish with outstanding figures of 4 for 8. Justin Langer had specifically targeted Thomas as a recruit the moment he took the Scorchers coaching role, and Thomas has repaid the faith with eight wickets in three matches at a single figure average (6.25) and a scrooge-like economy rate (4.91).
The Scorchers sneak into the top four for the first time with their third straight victory while the Renegades fall from their tournament-long perch at the top of the Big Bash League table.
Alex Malcolm is a freelance writer based in Perth