Michael Hussey will be a coaching consultant with Australia at the World Twenty20 in India next year, but the first night of the 2015-16 Big Bash League showed that he still has plenty to offer as a T20 batsman as well
Michael Hussey will be a coaching consultant with Australia at the World Twenty20 in India next year, but the first night of the 2015-16 Big Bash League showed that he still has plenty to offer as a T20 batsman as well. Hussey scored an unbeaten 80 from 59 balls to lead Sydney Thunder to their first win over their cross-town rivals Sydney Sixers in the eight meetings between the teams, a convincing 36-run victory at Sydney's Showground Stadium.
Hussey ensured that the Thunder posted a competitive 4 for 158 after he won the toss and chose to bat, and regular wickets throughout the Sixers innings, including three each to Andre Russell and Shane Watson, kept the Thunder on top throughout. The innings petered out and the Sixers were dismissed for 122 in the 20th over, opener Michael Lumb (34) the only batsman who made it past the teens.
In his first match for the Thunder, having played with Melbourne Renegades last summer, Russell was especially key with the ball. He delivered two quick, accurate yorkers that lit up the bails and bowled Brad Haddin and Nic Maddinson to leave the Thunder at 2 for 37, and from there they never really recovered. His economy was also outstanding, his four overs earning him 3 for 13.
Watson also chipped in with 3 for 13 from two overs; having had Jordan Silk caught in the deep he added Sean Abbott, who was caught and bowled, and Trent Lawford, who was bowled. While Russell and Watson picked up three wickets each, Jacques Kallis had also made an important breakthrough by trapping Lumb lbw, although the ball appeared to have pitched outside leg stump.
That ended Lumb's chances of helping the Sixers to victory after he earlier dropped one of the easiest chances imaginable on a cricket field. Watson was on 8 when he chipped a sitter off the bowling of Abbott; Lumb, at mid-off, had only to watch the ball into his hands, but somehow allowed the ball to bounce off his abdomen and could not grasp it. He was lucky the drop cost only eight runs as Watson was bowled by Nathan Lyon for 16.
But there was enough batting in the Thunder line-up to post a strong total. Batting at No.3 and having walked to the crease in the second over, Hussey seemed to set himself the task of batting through the innings, and he did so with class. He lofted Jackson Bird over wide long-off for the first six of the tournament and added three more through his innings.
Twenty runs came off the 17th over of the innings as Hussey and Ben Rohrer (30 off 20) lifted the tempo towards the end. Hussey's efforts proved more than adequate to end a run of seven straight victories for the Sixers over his side and ensured a perfect start for the Thunder, who have yet to finish above the bottom two in any BBL tournament.