The Perth Scorchers bid the WACA ground farewell with their third Big Bash League title in four years and a vintage performance straight from their tried-and-tested copybook. Their nine-wicket win came with 25 balls to spare, comfortably the most emphatic winning margin in a BBL final.
Their triumph lifted one of the BBL's peculiar hoodoos, as they become the first table-toppers to take home the title. The Sydney Sixers, whose women's team won the WBBL earlier in the day, were the latest - and likely the last - victims of BBL cricket, the WACA way.
Just like the final game of the regular season, and the semi-final, the Scorchers' night could barely have run closer to their well-worn plan. Adam Voges won the toss and bowled, as they prefer to and 28 of 35 captains this BBL season have done. They took wickets in the Powerplay and strangled the Sixers, keeping them to 141. In the chase, their top order did the work in a belligerent Powerplay, then they sauntered home as if they had an early dinner reservation. Which they may well have done - the game was over in the blink of an eye.
The plan is for the Scorchers to play next season at the new 60,000-seater Perth Stadium, across the river from the WACA but hulking, seeming bigger at each glance. Just another homogeneous state-of-the-art bowl, there will be no Fremantle Doctor, history or iconic floodlights. A third title (they have now won half of all the BBLs) intensifies the Scorchers' undoubted aura but with the WACA goes some of the Scorchers' strength.
As much as the Scorchers' quality and the long journey west, the wonderfully partisan crowds have made the scorching stadium a horrible place to visit; indeed there are vast swathes of Australia's uninhabitable red centre that are louder than 'The Furnace' when the opposition take a wicket, but the celebratory roar is unique in the competition, and the new stadium has plenty to live up to. Every other BBL club aspires for a hostile atmosphere like the WACA's and a club identity like the Scorchers.
Every other club aspires to cricket like the Scorchers' too. They have had the deepest squad, as evidenced by the fact that they did not need the Marsh brothers here, or Jason Behrendorff, their highest-ever wicket-taker, all tournament. Their team is built on consistency of selection and experience of the competition, and it evolves slowly. They have the clearest - and perhaps even most defensive - gameplan, and are immaculately drilled, too. At the WACA, particularly chasing, they are mighty tough to beat.
This always looked a big toss, given Mitchell Johnson
's flying form and the Scorchers' unrivalled propensity to squeeze. The Sixers, too, had batted first just once all season, and they managed 99 for 9
then. Their batting, marshalled by the specialist finalist Moises Henriques, is suited to the chase.
And so it proved. Johnson began with a smile, then four dots, a single and another dot. At the other end, Daniel Hughes looked to tuck into Ashton Turner but soon holed out. Already, Sixers were scrambling, and in the next over Nic Maddinson was run out and Michael Lumb caught behind. It was all eerily reminiscent of the semi-final win over Melbourne Stars. Johnson took 1 for 13, with 16 dot balls. Again, he was on fire.
Brad Haddin, as he tends to be these days, was there for a good time, not a long time, powering his way to 38 and adding 57 with Henriques, and particularly tucking into Tim Bresnan
and Ashton Agar, who he stuck sweetly down the ground for consecutive sixes. But the eventual Player of the Match Jhye Richardson
, selected ahead of Behrendorff, bounced out Haddin (it was very close to a no-ball), then did for Henriques and Jordan Silk in the same over.
Johan Botha and the tail wagged, but Sixers' hopes of 160 and a competitive match went with Henriques. Tim Bresnan, an inspired short-term signing whose T20 value has risen exponentially over the last fortnight, bowled beautifully at the death to nip any chance of a big score in the bud, dismissing Sean Abbott, Ben Dwarshius and Botha.
It seems generous to call what followed a chase. Sam Whiteman
, the flair in a functional top order, came out swinging from the hip, sending Jackson Bird for six to the 60m leg-side boundary and a triptych of violent fours. Ben Dwarshius was then biffed for two sixes behind square. At the other end, Michael Klinger
built an innings. The first seven overs brought 70.
When Whiteman was stumped, out came Ian Bell, looking determined to be there at the end, cutting with élan and pulling with control. In the course of his unbeaten 71, Klinger made this his most prolific BBL season ever, and again overtook Aaron Finch as the league's all-time top-scorer. Appropriately, it was he who struck the final blow, lofting Botha high and handsome down the ground. The WACA erupted, one last time.
Will Macpherson writes on cricket for the Guardian, ESPNcricinfo and All Out Cricket. @willis_macp