Thunder's losing run hits 16 in LED bails controversy
Melbourne Stars 3 for 156 (Hodge 64*) beat Sydney Thunder 6 for 155 (M Hussey 66) by seven wickets
Brad Hodge and the cricketing gods conspired to ensure that the Sydney Thunder's losing streak extended to 16 matches, while the Melbourne Stars rocketed to the top of the BBL table.
It was a freakish innings from the evergreen Hodge but not as freakish as the non run-out of David Hussey in the crucial 15th over of the Stars' run chase. The incident will bring into question the long-term viability of the novelty zing bails used in the BBL.
Hodge drilled a drive straight back to bowler Tillakaratne Dilshan, who gathered and flicked a throw that hit the stumps solidly at the non-strikers end. The zing bails, complete with LED lights that flash when out of the groove, lit up with Hussey short of his ground, but extraordinarily the bails settled back into the groove and did not fall to the ground. Thus the run-out was null and void.
Ricky Ponting, commentating on television, said he had never seen that happen with traditional bails. David Hussey said after the match that he had never seen it happen before
The ICC approved the use of the zing bails for international cricket in July 2013 and the BBL's official Twitter account stated, "A Zing bail is slightly heavier than standard wooden bail, but lighter than the heavy bails used in windy matches."
The whole momentum of the match hinged on that over, although Hodge had already done significant damage in the balls before it.
The Stars required 64 from 36 balls when Thunder captain Michael Hussey turned to Dilshan. David Hussey pulled the first ball for four before working a single to midwicket. Hodge then launched the next two balls over the midwicket rope before the run-out chance occurred.
In the next over, Hodge thumped another six and two fours off Scott Coyte. The 39-year-old cruised to his 39th T20 half-century off just 30 balls and the Stars cruised to another victory with five balls to spare and seven wickets in hand.
It may have been different had Dirk Nannes been rewarded for his brilliant bowling. The left-arm quick finished with 1 for 15 from four overs but he should have picked up a second scalp that could have changed the course of the chase dramatically.
Matthew Wade nicked the second delivery he faced from Nannes to keeper Ryan Carters. But Wade stood motionless, as did the umpire, even as the Thunder players appealed in vain. Wade went on to make 44 from 40 balls to set up the chase before Hodge finished the job.
The controversies overshadowed another batting master-class from Michael Hussey. The Thunder's captain compiled 66 from 48 balls to help his side to a competitive total of 155 after winning the toss. He was again ably supporter by Eoin Morgan who struck the ball beautifully in his 31. The pair combined for 57, and then some late hitting from youngsters Kurtis Patterson and Jason Floros gave the Thunder real hope of breaking their 739-day winning drought. Thunders last won a BBL game in 2011, and went through the 2012-13 season without a single victory.
There was light rain during the Stars innings but the Thunder's luck was nowhere to be found.
Alex Malcolm is a freelance writer based in Perth