Turner puts Scorchers' success down to 'confidence in the depth of our squad'
"We pick guys for a reason, we trust their skill," Scorchers captain said of Connolly and Hobson
Teenager Cooper Connolly had only faced 11 balls in his fledgling BBL career, but captain Ashton Turner remained confident that he could help power Perth Scorchers to a fifth title under immense pressure.
Turner's faith was justified when 19-year-old Connolly became an instant hero at a heaving Optus Stadium after combining with unheralded Nick Hobson to lift Scorchers past Brisbane Heat in an absorbing final.
"We pick guys for a reason, we trust their skill. We don't need to tell Cooper how to bat, how to play the situation," Turner said after Scorchers chased down 176 runs to win by five wickets.
"He's a smart kid, he's played enough cricket and he's prepared himself for these moments.
"If anything, if I tell him where he should be hitting the ball then he probably doesn't play the shots we see tonight. That's the beauty and the freedom of a young kid who's just come onto the scene."
Scorchers' latest BBL triumph was particularly satisfying because it reinforced their long-held core principles of building a reservoir of depth and sticking with homegrown talent.
They had to lean on that after an injury-ravaged campaign, including losing star allrounder Mitchell Marsh for the entire season while spearhead Jhye Richardson didn't return after suffering a hamstring strain mid-season.
It provided opportunities for Hobson, an accountant in his day job who played every match this season, and Connolly, Australia's captain at last year's Under-19 World Cup, who both have never played first-class cricket before.
"We want players who are battle-hardened and ready for the international stage," Turner said. "We have a lot of confidence in the guys we pick.
"To get picked in our final XI, you've got to be a good player and we trust our selection processes and we trust what we've seen from these guys. The question is can they translate and perform in big moments?
"Both Nick and Cooper have answered that question comprehensively."
Overshadowed by the dramatic finale, Turner had initially rescued Scorchers with a composed 53 off 32 balls on the back of a half-century under pressure in last year's final against Sydney Sixers
The Player-of-the-match performance capped a stunning season for the unassuming Turner, who has vaulted back into calculations for Australia's T20 team strengthened by his impressive captaincy credentials.
Turner played nine ODIs and 18 T20Is for Australia from 2017-21, but a form slump removed him from the selection frame.
"It's not so much a rescue mission as it may look from the outside - I'm doing my job," Turner said about his ability to continually dig Scorchers out of trouble this season.
"I said pre-game that great teams win big games and that was our responsibility tonight. We've been overwhelming favourites probably for the last few games we've entered.
"It's our responsibility to back that up and perform well. Fortunately we were able to do that."
While they bask in another triumph, planning will eventually start for Scorchers' bid for a historic hat-trick of titles - a feat that has never been achieved in BBL history.
"When BBL 13 comes along we will be well-planned, prepared and excited," Turner said. "There will be more competition, we know that having been at the pinnacle of this competition for a couple of years that we will be the hunted and that's okay. We'll embrace that tag and we've got a lot of confidence in the depth of our squad."
Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth