Big Bash League 2011-12 December 20, 2011

Warne back in business as Stars win

Alex Malcolm

Melbourne Stars 7 for 177 (Quiney 97, Hauritz 3-18) beat Brisbane Heat 7 for 169 (McKay 3-22) by eight runs

A record crowd at the Gabba for a domestic T20 undoubtedly came to see Shane Warne. They got their monies-worth as Warne and his team delivered in the most entertaining match of the BBL so far.

Melbourne Stars, the side with as much star-power as any in this competition, beat Brisbane Heat by eight runs in a match that featured highlights with bat and ball and a virtuoso performance from Warne in front of 29,241 people.

Rob Quiney's match winning 97 from 60 balls set up an imposing total of 7 for 177 on a pristine Gabba surface, before Clint McKay's 3 for 22 was statistically the pick of the bowlers in the Stars defensive effort. But in reality, both men were overshadowed by night's star attraction: Shane Warne.

Brisbane were on track at 2 for 70 after seven overs of their run chase. Matthew Hayden clubbed four fours in the second over of the innings from England international Jade Dernbach. Hayden smashed his tenth ball straight to mid off to fall for an entertaining 22 but Brendan McCullum picked up the slack cruising to 26 from 16 balls before Warne entered. McCullum had got off the mark with a six over long on in the first over but he was far more respectful of Warne first up.

Two balls at McCullum and four at Peter Forrest in Warne's first over were all delivered with artistry and precision. He conceded four runs, as well extracting some turn and bounce from a wicket he adores.

McCullum attacked Warne in his second over. The New Zealander charged, Warne tossed high and wide, McCullum miscued a spooned drive, high, but safely beyond cover-point. Warne picked him up two balls later, bowling him around his legs as he attempted to sweep.

Dan Christian was the only player to get a piece of Warne, clubbing him for six over long on. But Warne's other 23 balls cost just 16.

Outside of Warne and McKay the Stars other three bowlers conceded more than nine-an-over. But they did enough to curtail Brisbane, who simply could not construct a partnership. Their largest was 55 unbroken stand between Michael Neser and Ryan Harris but it came too late as it began in the 15th over with the score at 7 for 114.

Earlier the Stars had set-up their total on the back of a 105-run stand between Quiney and David Hussey. Melbourne were 2 for 31 when the pair came together after Nathan Hauritz opened the bowling with great success snaring Matthew Wade and George Bailey early.

But Quiney found the pace of the Gabba wicket to his liking as he smashed six sixes and five fours in a 60-ball knock that ended three short of a well-deserved century. Outside of Hauritz, who showed the value of a slow bowler at the Gabba by taking 3 for 18 from four quality overs, Brisbane were exposed for a lack of variety.

Quiney's high grip and Gilchrist-like swinging arc took full toll of all the medium pacers' length offerings. Hussey was a valuable contributor as well. His 45 from 32 showcased his wonderful skill as a T20 cricketer.

Brisbane slumped to their second loss of the tournament, whilst the Stars squared the ledger with a win and a loss.