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McCullum's Heat fight to the finish

"I suppose I should watch it," said Brendon McCullum, of the BBL final, which his Brisbane Heat side will not contest, having lost to the Sydney Sixers at the Gabba.

The sense is, though, that it does not matter that the Heat did not make the final, because this season's effect on the club, and on BBL in the city, has been profound enough to leave a mark.

McCullum's is a team in his image, that went down in his style. He even hit the final ball of their season down the ground for six. It was too late, of course, but their swashbuckling style and total togetherness were on display in defeat. Twice in the game they should have been dead and buried, twice they fought back. Eventually, only a Super Over shook them. With their top six gone for 109, the lower order hustled 57 from the final five overs to set up a target, then with Sixers cruising to victory, they took 5 for 29 before Ben Cutting's last over cost just five to force a Super Over.

"It was pretty tense all right," McCullum said. "We did well to get back into the game. Lesser teams would have lost that by five or six overs but the belief within the group meant we kept fighting hard. In the end it's disappointing to run second but proud of the boys, not just tonight but for the whole campaign.

"We have lost some close games, and a close semi-final. We can walk away saying we made some significant strides forward as a team, and the crowds that have turned up are testimony to that. It was an attractive brand of cricket which they have quite enjoyed. Some of those games you win and some you lose but I'm very proud of it - in a finals situation, behind the eight-ball, it's a good sign that we are maturing quickly."

As McCullum said, Brisbanites have voted for his team with their feet. The Gabba had never seen a single BBL sellout before this season, and there was some whispers to suggest CA saw them as a club falling behind. But this year, all five of their games sold out, with 140,727 people through the gates in total. This crowd, 35,116, was their biggest ever - beating their last, against Renegades on Friday, by four people. It has been a remarkable turnaround, especially given they have won just one of those five home games.

"That's what we are employed to do, to try to gain an identity about how you want to play." Brendon McCullum

"We are a young team," McCullum said, discussing why people have come to watch. "One that doesn't mind having a go, and isn't scarred by too much experience, as can be the case. We want to go out there and play attacking cricket and, as we've seen every game barring the [loss to] Scorchers here, we have tried to attack with the bat, try to take wickets, and try to be desperate in the field. That's the basis of a good cricket team; as long as you're consistent about doing it, and you turn up, and everyone else who who turns up knows exactly how you are going to play - win, lose or draw. In an inconsistent game that's not a bad way to find a bit of consistency."

There has been a conscious effort, just as there was when McCullum captained New Zealand, to forge an identity to the team. "That's what we are employed to do, to try to gain an identity about how you want to play," he said. "Dan [Vettori, the coach], Bondy [Shane Bond], myself, then senior players within the group and the management behind the scenes - we're all trying to sing off the same song sheet."

Asked to explain the team's philosophy, McCullum cited Joe Burns, who has been a revelation batting down the order, and Ben Cutting as key players in pulling the team in the same direction. Burns has even started bowling (typically adventurous McCullum captaincy), and took a wicket - Nic Maddinson - in the first over of the chase, while Cutting batted and bowled in the Super Over.

"I actually locked him [Burns] in for two wickets at the start of the day, so he is still one down in my book," McCullum joked. "That was about match-ups and he's flying at the moment, Burnsy. He's a leader in the group, so I'll just keep throwing him the ball, try and get him in the game. Same with Cutts - throw him the ball for the Super Over, and then with the bat get him out there. Give your big players, your leaders ample opportunity, and then the young guys will come along for the ride.

All of this, of course, is straight from the McCullum copybook.

"We are just trying to have a crack. It's good fun playing T20 and we get big crowds turning up to support us, so you just try to do your best for those guys. Hopefully what we have done this year is just the start of something a lot bigger and better."

Syd Sixers 2nd innings Partnerships

WktRunsPlayers
1st3NJ MaddinsonDP Hughes
2nd31C MunroDP Hughes
3rd99MC HenriquesDP Hughes
4th4MJ LumbMC Henriques
5th5BJ HaddinMC Henriques
6th3BJ HaddinJ Botha
7th17J BothaSA Abbott
8th2J BothaBJ Dwarshuis
9th3NM LyonBJ Dwarshuis