Best T20 ever!
Choice of game
It was being dubbed as Shane Warne's final match in Perth, and, of course, it was the semi-final of the BBL. So, despite the drizzle, I made my way to the WACA ground to hopefully witness a good game of cricket. My prediction was Perth Scorchers would defeat Melbourne Stars and squeeze into the final.
I was hoping the Scorchers could progress to their second consecutive Big Bash final.
This goes to Shaun Marsh, for his unbelievable, match-winning innings. He scored 68, including three massive sixes off debutant Alex Keath's solitary over that went for 27 runs. It let the Scorchers back into the match. Each boundary was cheered louder than the last (by the fifth boundary of the over the noise was so loud my eardrum almost burst!) and Marsh got a huge standing ovation when the over concluded. Young Keath, who was visibly down after the over, got pats on the back from all his team-mates on his way to his position for the next over.
One thing I'd have changed
I'd have made it easier to buy some hot chips at the ground. One kiosk was closed, another was banned for Under-18s, and the third had a ten-minute waiting time while the chips were cooking. During this wait I missed three or so overs; in one of them Brad Hogg was carted for 26 runs. So maybe it was a good thing I missed it. The match itself was so good, I would not have changed a single thing about it.
Face-off I relished
There were no really big contests between bat and ball, as both teams scored at above ten runs per over. The best bowler for the Scorchers was the economical Nathan Coulter-Nile, and for the Stars John Hastings and James Faulkner both bowled well.
The umpire signalling a no-ball on what should have been the last ball of the match sent the crowd into raptures of disbelief. I don't think the Stars or the Scorchers could believe it either. The crowd went through two emotions during that ball in a matter of seconds; despair that the Scorchers wouldn't advance, and then amazement that the Stars had actually conceded a no-ball! This turned to joy moments later when Michael Hussey struck the winning run.
Hogg fielded in front of me for the first few overs, and he always got a big cheer when he went near the ball. However, he got smashed when he was bowling in one of his worst performances for the Scorchers. For much of the Scorchers' innings Dimitri Mascarenhas, gold jewellery and all, was fielding in front of me, although, he didn't see a lot of the ball there. I was also fairly close to the team dugouts, so I could see the nerves in the Scorchers team, and had a prime view when they sprinted onto the field in joy after the Hussey shot off the last ball.
Shot of the day
I haven't seen a shot like Adam Voges' swat for six over long-off at a crucial stage of the game. Hastings bowled a bouncer outside the off stump and Voges calmly raised his bat and played a tennis-like shot. Somehow he got enough elevation and power on the ball to clear the rope at long-on. As the ball sailed through the air the crowd rose and unleashed a mighty cheer.
With almost 18,000 people packed into the WACA, it was a ground record for the Big Bash. It was a good turnout, because there was some light rain around and many people would have just returned to work after the Christmas break. The noise the crowd made was the loudest I've ever experienced, especially when Hussey smashed the last ball over the leg-side field to win. A fair few of the 19 sixes hit during the match were caught by members of the crowd, and that always got some big cheers. Surprisingly, a Mexican Wave started towards the end of the match, probably more out of nerves than anything.
There were some orange wigs, some people were wearing buckets on their heads, and a ton of guys wearing blue for some reason on one of the grass banks. Apart from that, there wasn't much else worth mentioning, unfortunately. Hopefully people will dress up for the grand final.
The butterfly ladies were doing their usual thing around the outskirts of the crowd. The Melbourne Stars mascot was prowling the boundary line, high-fiveing kids and striking different poses. There was also fire and fireworks when the Scorchers entered the arena, and some fire-shooters were standing near one of the grassbanks. However, entertainment wasn't needed as the match itself was one of the great spectacles you could see in a T20.
Banner of the day
This was an easy one. A sign was spotted in the crowd which said, "Warnie would win the Samuels fight, but the Perth Scorchers will win tonight". Many people wanted to see it, and Warne even gave it a thumbs-up. How do I know all this? I made this banner with one of my friends.
ODI v Twenty20?
When was the last time an ODI had such drama, suspense and excitement? I don't know. Never? Even though the match was rain-affected, the game was so enthralling that in hindsight you would have wanted the match to be so. One-day cricket just doesn't produce that sort of cricket. Although, I still fully believe that T20s don't come close to challenging the tradition and strategy of Test cricket.
What a match. So many huge hits, incredible drama and a Scorchers loss that turned into a win. It is the best match I have seen live, and I think it would have to go close to being one of the best T20 matches ever.
Marks out of 10
10 out of 10. That's as close as you can get to a perfect limited-overs cricket match.
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