Sydney Thunder v Adelaide Strikers, Big Bash League, Sydney December 27, 2013

Hussey 85 in vain as Thunder lose again

Adelaide Strikers 6 for 153 (Klinger 44, Reardon 32*) beat Sydney Thunder 6 for 147 (Hussey 85, Neser 3-24) by six runs

Seven hundred and thirty five days and counting. That's how long it has been since the Sydney Thunder last won in the Big Bash League and on Friday, not even the most remarkable innings from a most remarkable cricketer could break that drought.

Michael Hussey's extraordinary 85 from 56 balls wasn't enough, as Shaun Tait and the Strikers held their nerve to inflict the Thunder's 15th consecutive defeat.

Hussey could not have done more to win this game for his new team. Aged 39, and nearly 12 months since retiring from international cricket, his superpowers have not diminished even the slightest.

He entered at 2 for 20 in the fourth over, chasing 154 to win, and watched from the non-strikers' end as Michael Neser claimed Ryan Carters to be on a hat-trick and send the Thunder further into the mire.

But Hussey remained unfazed and accumulated eight runs from his first 12 balls in a typical risk-free manner. Then on the 13th delivery, on a wicket where it was difficult to score off balls that were banged, Hussey advanced at Neser and lofted him into the stands over long-on.

In the next over, he charged at the legspin of Adam Zampa and hit him inside out over wide long off for six. The Thunder needed 96 runs from 60 balls and Strikers captain Johan Botha turned to the raw pace of Tait, but Hussey still didn't blink. He hooked the first-ball bouncer for six, glided a length ball fine of third man for four, and pulled another short ball though square leg for four more.

Seventy-nine off 54 became 56 off 42 after Zampa's third over, as Hussey reached his fifty with another six. Eoin Morgan, who played Robin to Hussey's Batman, hit a trademark reverse sweep for four in the same over to keep the runs flowing.

The pair combined for 109 off 75 balls and by the time Morgan had holed out to Callum Ferguson at backward point, the Thunder needed just 25 from 22.

But the youngster Kurtis Patterson struggled to get Hussey back on strike, and ran himself out with 11 to win. Tait was thrown the ball for the final over and Hussey fell 15 metres short of victory, getting caught by Johan Botha at deep long-on.

Earlier, the Strikers were pleased when asked to bat first after losing the toss. Michael Klinger cover-drove the first ball for four to lay the foundation for a classy 44. The Thunder bowlers, led by Dirk Nannes, Gurinder Sandhu and Chris Woakes adjusted their lengths on the unique drop-in wicket to restrict the Strikers after their positive start.

But a very skilful innings from Nathan Reardon tipped the total past 150, and in the end, it was just a little too much for Hussey and the Thunder to overcome.

Alex Malcolm is a freelance writer based in Perth