Wright, Bird power Stars to win in opener
Melbourne Stars 208 for 7 (Wright 70, White 53) beat Melbourne Renegades 132 (Buttler 49, Bird 4-31) by 76 runs
After losing to the Melbourne Renegades twice last season, the Melbourne Stars exacted revenge on their cross-town rivals in dazzling style on the opening night of the Big Bash League.
The Stars did so on the back of a dominant batting display. Put in to bat on a superb track at the MCG, with short boundaries, the Stars climbed into the Renegades bowlers.
Openers Luke Wright (70 from 32 balls) and Cameron White (53 from 38) clubbed 94 runs in the first eight overs to set up the match. The pair were particular severe on Will Sheridan, who conceded 45 in his first two overs. The Stars showed their depth in the batting line-up as Glenn Maxwell, Brad Hodge and David Hussey were able to waltz in one after the other and swing freely from the outset.
The only Renegades bowler to escape punishment was Muttiah Muralitharan who conceding 23 runs in four overs and bagged the key scalp of Wright.
The Renegades pain was compounded further when fast bowler Jayde Herrick suffered a side strain mid-way through the 19th over. Sheridan was asked to complete the over and, although he claimed the wicket of Marcus Stoinis with his second ball, the first ball he bowled disappeared over the wide long-off rope.
The Renegades chase hinged on the Stars nemesis, Aaron Finch. Jackson Bird, making a comeback after a lengthy lay-off due to stress fractures, was greeted by Finch with a powerful lofted six over cover-point. Finch found the boundary on four more occasions thereafter and threatened to spoil the party once again. However, the opener lacked support as he lost three partners during his stay, before he fell to a sensational catch from David Hussey.
Englishman Jos Buttler followed Wright's lead with some clean striking during a brisk 49. But the Renegades fell well short, Bird finishing as the chief destroyer with 4 for 31. Maxwell capped the Stars' win, contributing to the last three wickets with two good catches and a run-out off a direct hit.
A crowd of 25,266 was around 10,000 short of expectations, though there will be as much interest at Cricket Australia in the size of the television audience for the first BBL fixture to be broadcast on a free-to-air network since the competition's inception.
Alex Malcolm is a freelance writer based in Perth