Choice of game
This match, between second and third on the ladder, shaped up to be one that could decide who hosts the second semi-final. The Strikers had a great net run-rate leading into the match, and with a win, would jump over the Scorchers into second spot. However, the Scorchers were in hot form, with three straight wins. A Scorcher win would put them behind the first-placed Hobart Hurricanes on net run-rate only. My prediction was the Perth Scorchers by a small margin.
Being a Perth boy, I have supported the Scorchers throughout the tournament and that didn't change tonight.
The two players who stood out for me were from the winning home side.
Herschelle Gibbs set up the innings, scoring 65 off 41 balls with 12 boundaries. Brad Hogg's 3 for 20 off four overs was a fantastic performance and his run-out of Cameron Borgas, although lucky, sealed the game. He was very difficult to play and his spell turned the match.
One thing I'd have changed about the day
I would have changed the colour of the security guards' vests. The bright orange often made it difficult to distinguish them from the Scorchers.
Face-off I relished
During the first over, Alfonso Thomas bowled a bouncer to the Scorchers captain Marcus North. An appeal for caught-behind was turned down, and after North blocked the next ball back to the bowler, Thomas feigned throwing the ball. This started the contest in a tense manner, but it quickly settled down.
I said "whoa" when Adam Crosthwaite advanced down the pitch and smacked a cover-drive off Nathan Coulter-Nile. It was smoked; the fielder at wide mid-off didn't stand a chance. Sublime.
Six men in orange costumes that covered them from head to toe were cheering the Scorchers. But they were pretty pathetic. Their idea was to run onto the ground after each boundary and fall on top of one another. There were also a few ladies on stilts dressed as butterflies, and while walking around, they almost poked above the sightscreen!
Cutting it a bit too fine, maybe?
With one minute until the scheduled start time, two Strikers bowlers and an assistant walked onto the ground near the pitch, set up two flexible stumps, and started bowling. The umpires walked past them at 6:01pm, and they started to pack up. The game eventually got underway at 6:06pm.
Blooper of the day
Late in the Scorchers' innings, Paul Collingwood hit a ball firmly along the ground to long-on. Tom Cooper slid and easily gathered the ball but his momentum rolled him over. Which would have been all right had the ball not slipped from his grasp. Which still would have been all right had the ball not made contact with his leg, and as a result gone over the rope. He got the loudest cheer of the day.
It was a sell-out at the WACA. The crowd was very vocal, especially in supporting Hogg. Even the MC, Lachy Reid, started a 'Ho-ggy, Ho-ggy' chant. Whenever Hogg went near the ball, there was a massive cheer. Towards the end of the night, when he was taking a few wickets, the crowd went bonkers!
Although a few sixes were hit, none were caught. It was a shocking performance from the crowd.
I was rather disappointed on the fire front. There were only a few flames shot up near the western bank, but no fire when the batsmen walked out to bat. And there were way too many songs between balls. Where are the good, not-so-old days when you'd only play songs at the end of overs? However, the songs were pretty good. After the Scorchers' first four, "Hot in the City" was slightly amusing. And "Another One Bites the Dust" was funny when some Strikers got out. But "Good Old Collingwood Forever", when the Englishman went out to bat, took the cake on the songs front.
The only entertainment during the innings break was the orange men playing a very... well... interesting match of cricket.
The underachiever was the non-members section of the crowd. They are quite famous for their many "snakes" made out of beer cups. However, tonight there was only one tiny little thing, and it wasn't even big enough to get ejected. But they were brilliant with their cheering for Hogg and whenever a Strikers' player made a mistake.
Twenty20 v ODIs?
I have pretty much grown up with T20s and love the quickest format of the game. ODIs are okay but they just drag on, and the middle of the innings are quite boring. So I prefer T20 to ODIs, but I think if there is too much of it, Test cricket, my favorite format, could die a slow, painful death.
Banner of the day
A person had written on a Scorchers banner: "Gilchrist, where are you?" It was appropriately shown after Luke Ronchi was out for a duck.
Marks out of 10
8.5 for the on-field entertainment, controversy, Hoggy's performance, and the Scorchers win. But the match loses a mark and a half for the tame ending.
It wasn't as close as I would have liked, but there were some nice big hits and controversial decisions, and as a Scorchers fan I enjoyed the game. The Strikers will have a job to do if they want to make the finals, although their net run-rate is okay.