Sydney Thunder v Perth Scorchers, Big Bash League 2015-16, Sydney January 7, 2016

Bancroft, Agar fifties guide Scorchers to easy win

The Report by Tristan Lavalette
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Perth Scorchers 5 for 175 (Bancroft 72, Agar 68, Russell 2-31) beat Sydney Thunder 9 for 145 (Russell 42, Tye 3-22, Behrendorff 3-26) by 30 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Cameron Bancroft was awarded the Man of the Match for his counterattacking 72 © Getty Images

Despite their dominance of the BBL over the years, Perth Scorchers have repeatedly been written off. After they slumped to 2 for 1 in the second over to a formidable Sydney Thunder attack, the Scorchers could probably hear the scepticism reverberating. However, once again, the defending champion's famed resilience reared and another finals appearance looks assured after a 30-run victory over the Thunder at Spotless Stadium in Sydney.

Notching their fourth win of the BBL, the Scorchers pulled a game clear of the Thunder after both teams were deadlocked at second on the ladder.

Largely due to contrasting, but highly effective, half centuries from precocious youngsters Cameron Bancroft and Ashton Agar, the Scorchers recovered from the perilous early position to compile 5 for 175 after being sent in to bat.

It was a total the highly disciplined Scorchers attack always looked likely to defend. On television commentary, Mark Waugh rated Thunder paceman Andre Russell the "best fast bowler in the competition". Waugh may have a change of heart after Scorchers spearhead Jason Behrendorff (3 for 26 off 4 overs) again produced a scintillating display claiming the early wickets of Aiden Blizzard and the out-of-form Jacques Kallis to leave the Thunder reeling at 2 for 17 after three overs.

Shane Watson, the Thunder's acting captain in place of an injured Mike Hussey, looked in sparkling form counterattacking young Scorchers paceman Joel Paris, who is set to make his ODI debut against India next week.

But Watson fell just when he looked threatening, playing on for 18 to leave the Thunder 3 for 49 in the ninth over. The Thunder's chase looked forlorn until the powerful Russell produced an extraordinary display of brutish batting. In the ultimate purple patch, Russell smashed five sixes in eight deliveries between overs 12 and 14.

The most noteworthy of the bunch was a slog off Behrendorff that astonishingly went 116 metres, just one metre short of Dan Christian's tournament record.

But Behrendorff showed his form, snaring the crucial scalp of Russell, assisted by a clutch catch from Paris after the ball swirled high in the air. Russell compiled a highly entertaining 20-ball 42 but his dismissal effectively ended the Thunder's hopes, and they eventually finished well short of the target at 9 for 145.

A comprehensive victory looked unlikely earlier in the day when the Scorchers struggled mightily with the bat at the beginning of their innings. Much of the Scorchers' batting had revolved around their opening partnership of Shaun Marsh and Michael Klinger, the Scorchers captain, who was out in the first over for a duck, followed quickly by the dismissal of Marcus Harris.

Marsh looked in fine touch compiling 28 with ease, but his dismissal halted the Scorchers' comeback and left them delicately poised at 3 for 64 in the 11th over. The Scorchers perceived weakness was their inexperienced middle-order, which had hardly batted throughout the tournament due to Klinger and Marsh's domination.

Making a mockery of that perception, Bancroft and Agar combined for Scorchers' fourth-wicket record partnership of 105 off just 51 balls. Bancroft, a technically correct batsman, played orthodox yet powerfully, particularly through the off side. Smartly, he rotated the strike early in a determined rebuild attempt, and then impressively muscled numerous shots down the ground.

In a notable contrast to his teammate, Agar looks ungainly at times with minimal footwork and a wild swing of the bat. But at the core of his burgeoning batting is his attentiveness; Agar watches the ball closely and when in rhythm, morphs into a stylish and powerful batsman. His effervescence was infectious, as the pair scurried between the wickets, rattling the suddenly ragged Thunder. Agar's cavalier approach netted 68 off 34 balls in his first BBL half-century, while Bancroft scored a 53-ball 72.

The impressive performances of their youngsters will well please the Scorchers, who will be without the services of Marsh for the remainder of the BBL.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Chris_P on January 8, 2016, 5:59 GMT

    There is a lot to like about Bancroft. He needs to continue this form in the Shield when he returns to the FC arenas. Like others, I have enjoyed Agar's batting this year. He has been a revelation, I really want him to produce the goods with the ball to push his claims further.

  • tahmidjoey on January 8, 2016, 2:09 GMT

    @inferno792: I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that Bancroft took the scorchers out of an extremely tough situation (2 wickets for 1) and built the innings. This gave Agar the incentive to free himself up and play shots. Bancroft's last 20 runs came very quickly due to the solid base he had built. Also, he kept wicket pretty well. Logical MOM in the whole scheme of things (Behrendorff was also a contender).

  • LoungeChairCritic on January 8, 2016, 1:49 GMT

    With Paris going to the ODI side, I would love to see Agar bowl more in 20/20. The experience will do him good. It is a shame that no IPL team has looked at him yet. Personally I think he is about 2 to 3 years away from being a fully fledged international cricketer. Long term I think he could be the Oz allrounder in all 3 formats. I think his bowling would be more than handy on sub-continental dust bowls.

  • Behind_the_bowlers_arm on January 7, 2016, 22:13 GMT

    Bancroft is a class act. Technically correct but can give the ball a whack when needed. Will be a Test player mainly I think but showed here he can adapt.

  • Parousia on January 7, 2016, 21:46 GMT

    Andre Russel is probably the best all-rounder in Odi & T20 at the moment. Too bad he isn't playing test cricket to challenge the likes of Stokes & Mitch Marsh.

  • KingofRedLions on January 7, 2016, 18:32 GMT

    Inferno, Agar wouldn't have had the opportunity to play that innings with Bancroft. Bancroft anchored the innings, Agar was the one who turned it into a great total.

  • Ozchris on January 7, 2016, 17:39 GMT

    The Scorchers continually get under-estimated and written off. I love it! Apparently they didn't have a middle order. Ha!

  • android_user on January 7, 2016, 14:52 GMT

    @SendTheStumpsFlying he is just coming back from injury the selectors want him to play more cricket before playing for the national side I'm sure he'll feature in the later ODIs and T20s against India and I'm sure he is in the frame for the t20 world cup

  • Inferno792 on January 7, 2016, 13:43 GMT

    Good performance from the Scorchers! Their other batsmen came to the party. But the MOM had to be Agar. Come on, how can a 53 ball 72 beat a 34 ball 68?

  • SendTheStumpsFlying on January 7, 2016, 12:56 GMT

    Excellent bowling from Behrendorff, Tye and Hogg. One has to wonder why Behrendorff wasn't selected for the ODI squad, he's certainly good enough, excellent in the first overs and better in the later ones and he always takes wickets. Anyway, Good signs from Bancroft and especially Agar.

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