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BBL round-up: Dooley's delight, Neser vs Russell and honest Billings

What were the standout and eye-catching happenings over the past week?

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
Paddy Dooley, Michael Neser and Andre Russell had moments to remember

Paddy Dooley, Michael Neser and Andre Russell had moments to remember  •  Getty Images

The BBL is gathering steam heading into the holiday season. Here's a look back at some of the highlights and talking points of the past week.
Hooley Dooley
What a week Paddy Dooley has had. The left-arm spinner, who has modeled his unorthodox action on Jasprit Bumrah, has suddenly become a trump card in Hobart Hurricanes' attack. Last season he was hastily called up by Brisbane Heat during their Covid outbreak and caught the eye of Ricky Ponting, Hurricanes' head of strategy. He took four wickets against Perth Scorchers, including the key scalps of Faf du Plessis and Josh Inglis, then added two wickets against both Sydney Sixers and Melbourne Renegades. "It's an added bonus at this stage that I'm new for people but I've still got a few things I'm working on as well to develop it as there's more footage of me going around," he told shortly before his matchwinning performance against Scorchers.
Thunder lose their captain
It's been a difficult start to the season for Sydney Thunder. There was the 15 all out and then the shock departure of Fazalhaq Farooqi in controversial circumstances. Sandwiched in the middle of that they have lost their captain Jason Sangha for the season after he fractured his collarbone against Renegades. He has since undergone surgery with Chris Green taking charge of the team. An interesting aspect to this is that the original big push to have David Warner's leadership ban overturned came from Thunder. That, of course, has fallen by the wayside - and he would never have been a long-term option given international commitments - but should Green now get injured while Warner is around after the South Africa Tests they'll need to look elsewhere for a stand-in captain.
A hat-trick and huge sixes
There was a hectic chase in the game between Renegades and Heat in Geelong. After Heat had limped to 137 for 8, Michael Neser, released from the Test squad earlier that day, struck with the first ball of the innings. But that was just the start. By the third over he had a hat-trick - although not that he was aware - with Jake Fraser-McGurk caught behind, Nic Maddinson dragging on and then Jono Wells leaving a delivery that rocked back off stump. Renegades were 9 for 4 and Andre Russell was within a whisker of also going first ball, but then deposited his fourth onto the roof over deep midwicket. When Russell had 24 runs they had all come in sixes. A sixth six brought up fifty from 32 balls before a big hack had him caught behind. But, after Akeal Hosein fell just short of finishing the job, Will Sutherland took a leaf out of Russell's book with another six onto the roof.
Scorchers go big
Scorchers took the honours of being the first side to pass 200 this season. Junction Oval provided prime conditions - a flat pitch and short boundaries - and they took full advantage. du Plessis set the tone and was on track for a century before being taken in the deep, but Inglis took over with an innings full of flair and invention. This BBL is a big chance for Inglis to get a consistent run of cricket after being in and out of enlarged Covid squads then suffered a freak golf injury before the T20 World Cup. Scorchers have had to contend with a number of challenges around their list but they continue to look a very strong outfit with all bases covered.
Billings' honest assessment
England's Sam Billings was one of the players on the microphone during Heat's clash against Adelaide Strikers at the Gabba - Chris Lynn's return to his former club. His candor was illuminating, calling out some of the tactics of his own team which he thought was letting them down in what became a tight encounter. In the end, Heat got over the line to end a run of eight consecutive defeats which spanned this season and last. Billings had played the key hand with 79 off 48 balls after Heat had been trouble at 12 for 2 and 86 for 5. He continued his honest appraisal when named player of the match. "We didn't play very well, let's be honest, but we managed to get the win and that's what the best sides do," Billings said. "We'll take a lot of confidence from that, but we know that we can be so much better in all three facets of the game. We've got to be way better than that if we want to be in serious contention."
Fraser-McGurk adds to his highlights reel
Limping O'Keefe
Ahead of the tournament, Sydney Sixers spinner Steve O'Keefe spoke to ESPNcricinfo about playing another season and did flag the risk of tweaking a calf muscle. Sadly, that almost looks to have come true. Against Melbourne Stars at the SCG, O'Keefe appeared to suffer a leg injury in his opening over. However, to his immense credit he returned to the field to complete his spell - a miserly 1 for 16 from four overs with 12 dots balls - which helped keep Stars to a chaseable total.
Performance of the week
It's for a series of performances this time, with Paddy Dooley twice playing key roles in wins for Hurricanes. After his four-wicket haul against Scorchers he then took 2 for 23 against Renegades on Christmas Eve to help defend the second-lowest total (in a non-rain-reduced game) to claim victory in the BBL. Even in Hurricanes' loss to Sixers he was excellent with for 2 for 19 including a wonderful delivery to remove Jordan Silk.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo