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BBL round-up: 15 all out, Couch's catches and a floating bail

What has stood out from the opening few days of the tournament?

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
Joe Clarke, Aaron Finch and Henry Thornton had standout performances in the BBL's opening week  •  Getty Images

Joe Clarke, Aaron Finch and Henry Thornton had standout performances in the BBL's opening week  •  Getty Images

The BBL is up and running and it has already made some headlines, although perhaps not in the way that had been envisaged. Here's a look back at some of the highlights and talking points of the first week
You can't have missed this, but it has to be worth reliving. Only once since 1922 in all men's professional cricket has a side been bundled out for a lower total - Surrey's 14 all out against Essex in 1983. No one was able to make sense of it, an innings completed in less than a traditional powerplay (the BBL's powerplay is four overs). "It's got to make them more determined," coach Trevor Bayliss said. "You need to go into the next game determined to right the wrong. The talent is there…we need to put tonight down to 'one of those things'." It really was quite a thing, though. To Thunder's credit they made 174 in their next outing.
Couch's catches
One minute Brody Couch was making a toasted sandwich, the next he was taking two catches that, even though they came on the first day of the tournament, will likely be up there among the best come the end. The first was at short fine leg when Matthew Gilkes flicked Trent Boult with Couch somehow managing to flick the ball back up and hold the rebound, bringing back memories of Mark Taylor's footwork off Michael Bevan in 1996-97. Couch's second came deep in the game when he pulled off a spectacular running leap from wide long-off but, in a wild opening-night finish, Gurinder Sandhu's six and four byes decided the contest.
Finch not done yet?
It's widely assumed that Aaron Finch's international days are done with Australia's next T20s not until August 2023. But Finch is not being hasty. "Once you have a little break for a while, it gets the juices flowing again," he said. After a hamstring injury ended his World Cup he has returned to action for Renegades in a middle-order role - one he briefly took for the national side - and in the second game of season produced a match-winning innings of 70 off 43 balls to secure victory over Thunder with one ball remaining.
Naveed shines early
It has been a difficult start for Sydney Sixers - one the powerhouse sides in BBL history - with two heavy defeats to launch their tournament. However, their left-field draft signing, 19-year-old Afghanistan spinner Izharulhaq Naveed, has made an excellent start. There was significant surprise when Greg Shipperd plucked out his name in August's draft and he had played just 10 T20s heading into the BBL. But so far he has claimed figures of 2 for 25 and 2 for 22 with Chris Lynn as his first BBL wicket and then a beautiful googly to remove Josh Inglis at Optus Stadium.
Hosein earns plaudits
When Ian Bishop tweets (and, of course, commentates) it's worth taking notice. So his admiration of Akeal Hosein's debut performance for Melbourne Renegades was notable. He was the standout bowler in Cairns with 3 for 15, removing both Brisbane Heat's openers then claiming Jimmy Peirson when he was threatening a fightback. "Bowled as well as I've seen him bowl," Bishop, who has remained in Australia as a commentator, tweeted. He could prove a shewed signing.
Floating bail
Nic Maddinson was in blistering form against Brisbane Heat, but his innings included one bizarre moment. Having raced to 32 off 15 balls in the powerplay he watched as Renegades started to lose their way. For a moment, it appeared Maddinson would join the wickets. In the ninth over he went for a pull against Mark Steketee and a zing bail lit up as it fell to the ground. Hit wicket? Even Maddinson started to walk. However, on viewing the replay it was clear he had been nowhere near the stumps. What mysterious force was at work? An over later Renegades were in real bother at 78 for 4, but Maddinson held things together and alongside Andre Russell cut loose in the power surge to form what proved a winning total.
Clarke's hundred
He was not among the biggest names in the world that it was hoped the draft would attract, but there was little surprise that Melbourne Stars brought back Joe Clarke. Amid their Covid-ravaged 2021-22 season he was very consistent, finishing as their second-leading run-scorer with 419 at a strike-rate of 151.26 and five half-centuries. He was also fully committed to the BBL - "I felt like I owed the Stars," he said - which is not to be underestimated. It hasn't taken him long to make a mark, compiling his fourth T20 century from 65 balls against Hobart Hurricanes at the MCG, making the most of being dropped on 1 by Shadab Khan. "I actually found it quite tough," he said.
Performance of the week
It could easily be Clarke or Finch, but for his role in the remarkable events in Sydney, it goes to Adelaide Strikers' Henry Thornton after his figures of 5 for 3 against Thunder. It's been a remarkable 12 months for Thornton who, until last December, had not played a professional game since 2017. "I feel like I need to retire now," he said. "I don't think I'm getting better than that."

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo