Sports, Cricket

Turner, Connolly help Scorchers seal fifth BBL title

Published : 05 Feb 2023 09:12 PM | Updated : 05 Feb 2023 09:12 PM

Ashton Turner's 32-ball 53 and cameos from Cooper Connolly (25* off 11) and Nick Hobson (18* off 7) helped the Perth Scorchers lift the BBL title for the fifth time. Brisbane Heat's remarkable turnaround late in the tournament did not materialise into a trophy as the Scorchers chased down a target of 176 with five wickets in hand and three deliveries to spare at the Perth Stadium on Saturday (February 4). 

The Scorchers got off to a steady start in the chase as Stephen Eskinazi and Cameron Bancroft scored regular boundaries, helping the team to 31/0 at the end of the fourth over. Eskinazi, who had earlier been reprieved by a missed direct hit, was sluggish in going back to the bowler's end and ended up being run out for 21 in the fifth over. Bancroft fell a couple of overs later as he hit a Matthew Kuhnemann delivery to long-off, and was soon followed back to the hut by Aaron Hardie as the Scorchers slipped to 54/3 in the eighth over, and could only manage to take the score to 67/3 at the halfway stage. 

The required rate was 10.9 at the end of the 10th over and Turner decided it was time to take on the bowlers as he top-edged a hook off Xavier Bartlett for a six before scoring boundaries off Kuhnemann and James Bazley. Josh Inglis also got into the act with a couple of fours, while Turner continued in his aggressive ways, scoring a six off Michael Neser to bring up a 30-ball 50. The Scorchers scored 24 off the Power Surge overs, taken in the 15th and 16th, to bring down the equation to 46 off 24. 

The 80-run fourth wicket stand came to an end in the 17th over when Bartlett had Inglis slicing to deep cover and the Scorchers suffered a further setback as Turner was run out in the same over. The Scorchers needed 38 off 18, which came down to 20 off 12 thanks to Connolly smashing two sixes and a four off Bazley in the 18th over. Needing 10 off the last over, Hobson finished it off with a six and a four off Neser as the Scorchers emerged victorious in yet another final. 

Earlier, after the Heat opted to bat, Josh Brown set the tempo with three fours off Jason Behrendorff in the opening over although he wasn't in control of all the three shots. He then struck a six off David Payne but fell soon after as he was caught at mid-on. Nathan McSweeney managed a streaky boundary off Matthew Kelly in the fourth over as the Heat moved to 36/1. They went without a boundary for the next three overs before McSweeney scooped a Kelly delivery for a six while Sam Heazlett pulled Aaron Hardie for a four and a six. McSweeney collected his second four with a chip shot over Payne's head as the Heat got to 86/1 at the halfway stage of their innings. 

Heazlett and McSweeney struck straight boundaries off Andrew Tye in the 12th over to help the Heat past the 100-run mark, before a slower bouncer from Behrendorff ended Heazlett's stay on 34 and broke a 79-run stand that came off 61 deliveries. More wickets followed as Jimmy Peirson fell to a short delivery from Behrendorff while Hardie had McSweeney (41) chipping to sweeper cover, leaving the Heat at 119/4 after 15 overs. 

The Heat, however, managed 56 in the last five overs, to finish with a competitive total thanks to Max Bryant's 14-ball 31. Bryant struck two fours and three sixes in his knock, scoring maximums off Kelly, Tye and Payne. His innings came to an end in the 19th over when he fell to Kelly, who also bagged the wicket of Neser. Sam Hain's 21, which included a four off Kelly and useful hits from Bazley and Bartlett helped the Heat finish with 170-plus.