Melbourne Stars v Melbourne Renegades, BBL 2015-16, Melbourne January 2, 2016

Wright ton carries Stars home in Melbourne derby

The Report by Will Macpherson at the MCG
15

Melbourne Stars 3 for 163 (Wright 109*) beat Melbourne Renegades 7 for 161 (White 54, Hastings 4-29) by seven wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Luke Wright's unbeaten 109 was a memorable innings for the record crowd that showed up at the MCG © Getty Images

Forecasts had suggested the Melbourne derby might break the Big Bash League's record attendance (previously 52,633). But in the end, the record was veritably smashed, with 80,883 people watching Luke Wright's masterful century guide the Melbourne Stars to a crucial seven-wicket victory over cross-town rivals the Melbourne Renegades.

Earlier 12,901 people - more than have ever watched a Women's WT20 Final - had seen Renegades Women sneak home against their Stars counterparts. That game was also the first women's fixture to be shown on one of Australia's main TV channels.

Crowd-wise, this was the perfect storm, a warm Saturday evening at a family-friendly time at the back-end of the holiday season. The significance of such a crowds - particularly with regard to the BBL's relationship with Test cricket in Australia - cannot yet be known. What is for certain is the tournament has landed; the MCG is used to filling like this for the AFL's finals series and flagship days, for Ashes Test matches, or for World Cup Cricket.

Wright's innings was brutal, stalking down a Renegades total that always looked light, vindicating David Hussey's decision to invite them to bat first. Chris Gayle - the self-proclaimed biggest draw of the night - never got going; looking to heave John Hastings' second ball, Gayle contrived to find Kevin Pietersen at mid-off.

Aaron Finch shared 49 with Cameron White, but the Renegades continued to lose set batsmen at inconvenient junctures. Finch heaved Ben Hilfenhaus for a leg-side six before miscuing Marcus Stoinis to point. Every time Adam Zampa entered the attack, White seemed to find an extra, utterly brutal gear, launching the legspinner for three sixes between cow corner and long-off. White put on 58 with another former Stars player, Matthew Wade, who the ball over Stoinis' head for a beautiful four. Both batsmen, however, fell in the space of three balls just as the Renegades needed to motor. Wade attempted to ramp Hastings and edged behind, then White sent Michael Beer straight to deep backward square.

Tom Beaton nailed his first ball for a straight six but was gone an over later, caught in the deep on the leg side, then Hastings picked up two wickets in the final over to finish with 4 for 29. Tom Cooper hit a marvellous ramped six, but mistimed a pull to fine leg. An uncomfortable Dwayne Bravo innings ended in comical fashion, his bat flying towards midwicket - for the second time this competition - as he was comprehensively yorked.

Wright looked ravenous from the off. The Renegades bowling looked shy once more, and after a series of hard-run twos to get going, he pulled Nathan Rimmington for four, then bunted him over long-on for six next ball. His opening partner Stoinis was scratchy, and fell to a stunning catch by Wade off Chris Tremain, the wicketkeeper diving full-stretch, one-handed to his right to take a thick edge.

Wright continued on his merry way, briefly joined by Kevin Pietersen, who drove his first ball for a beautiful four but was caught behind playing a half-hearted pull off Cameron Gannon, the pick of the Renegades' bowlers. Wright's first half-century for the Stars in his last 15 innings came after consecutive boundaries - pulled, then straight-driven - off Gannon. Wright is seldom elegant, but is more calculated than he looks, and his strong wrists and brutal bottom-hand make him tough to bowl to when set.

Glenn Maxwell came, shone briefly, then left; a stunning swept six off Xavier Doherty followed by a horrid misjudgement to Bravo, who bowled him through the gate at the end of an over that saw Wright biff him for two more boundaries. Wright stepped up a gear to Doherty's next over. He was dropped by Beaton at long-on on 64, and punished the fielder to the tune of two consecutive sixes straight over his head. In the company of the calm Peter Handscomb, it was a cakewalk, Wright bringing up his century in the penultimate over with a pull over midwicket for six, and finishing the job off the first ball of the last, hitting Gannon down the ground.

The BBL is on the charge and so, thanks to Wright, are the Stars.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • nayamrafique on January 8, 2016, 6:53 GMT

    The BBL needs such big crowds on a regular basis to establish itself as a truly successful tournament. You still have way too many empty seats at the as larger stadiums such as the ANZ and the Etihad.

  • willsrustynuts on January 3, 2016, 10:46 GMT

    03/01/15. BBL - Sydney 186/5 in 20 overs: Test Match - SA v Eng - 196/0 in 25 overs. Millions 'following' the Test in the stadium, on TV and on the radio but apparently T20 is more popular and more exciting! Reports of the demise of Test cricket are greatly exaggerated!

  • CaseyWilliamOZ on January 3, 2016, 9:12 GMT

    so will the lodha committee reveal the names of those players involved? didn't hear much about that aye!! anyway, kudos to ca for promoting the tournament so well. bbl has the potential to get bigger and better, if it is handled properly.

  • Adam_Leban on January 3, 2016, 5:44 GMT

    Amazing to see so many people turn up mate. Excellent atmosphere at the ground. BBL is the best t20 tournament going around at the moment. Matches are not suspect and fans actually have faith in the result.

  • Insult_2_Injury on January 3, 2016, 3:05 GMT

    Can anyone tell me what the inside black lines are for that are drawn near the stumps? Faulkner bowled his whole 1st over inside those lines yet was penalised for 2 leg side wides. Both of them barely missed leg stump! Ricky Ponting seemed to sum it up when he said he didn't agree with the current rule, but the umpires have been consistent on what they've been told to call. Of course the stupidity is in what they've been told to call. What're bowlers supposed to do, just serve up fodder for batsmen in their favourite hitting zone? Finch backs away cos he wants to hit everything to off, so why isn't Faulkner allowed to bowl inside that black line outside leg? What made it even more ridiculous is he lapped a glance to leg from one wider than the two called. I know the rule makers want every ball going over the fence, but allowing bowlers some ability to change direction isn't going to stop sixes.

  • Insult_2_Injury on January 3, 2016, 2:54 GMT

    Right night for Wright batsman. Funny how often the vaunted don't perform in 'showcase' games. Much said in awe by commentators about the massive crowd - we come to expect those turn outs at the 'G' - but it's interesting how often 'marquee names' fail on that stage; Gayle, Pietersen, Maxwell. Great to see White & Wright shine. Of course the accepted theory is the marquees can't fail again, so the crowd will turn out in numbers again. It's also interesting how this short memory era treats the Test / Domestic crowd issue. In the eras of Ponsford & Benaud stadiums were fuller for Vic v NSW than Aus v India, but when Test cricket got its act together the trend reversed. One thing that the history of trends prove is that the cycle will move again. Don't forget also that the Melbourne crowd got a dud Boxing Day this year with a mismatch and a bog ordinary wicket, yet still produced bigger gate aggregates than the other 4 Tests.

  • AFRIDIANS99 on January 3, 2016, 1:06 GMT

    Nice to hear that so many came up to watch cricket at its best

  • Emancipator007 on January 2, 2016, 22:54 GMT

    Can some Ozzies explain the semantics behind such a massive crowd? Why wud local fans pay top dollars to watch 2 Melbourne teams slug it out for a domestic T20 match, notwithstanding the star line-ups in both teams? How can loyalty divided towards 2 city teams jee up fans? Was it just a case of hanging out with family/friends on a weekend, like an outing in an entertainment zone in mega city downtown/city centers or like attending some carnivals? Was there localized super-saturated marketing of this match in a hyper social-mass media era by CA? Such crowds used to be seen ONLY for international standing triangular World Series ODIs when the pulsing, dynamic Caribbean teams of Viv/Lloyd used to be called to tour OZ often in '80s/early '90s (check Haynes/Richardson's records' how many ODI matches they have played in OZ!). Quite a case study this massive turnout for a domestic T20 game in a significantly smaller population cricket economy than India's.

  • CluelessJan on January 2, 2016, 22:24 GMT

    Fantastic. good for cricket and melbourne to see such interest in a local Darby.

  • Ajshan on January 2, 2016, 22:16 GMT

    The star players. Gayle Bravo Pieterson Maxwell? How many matches have they won for the team? Are they really worth the money?

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