18/04/2024

Steve Smith lit up the BBL with two 100s in a row for the Sixers. (Picture: @SixersBBL / Twitter)

The sixth and final round of BBL|12 delivered plenty of highlights as teams battled it out for the top five spots on the ladder.

Steve Smith took over the competition as he smashed back-to-back centuries, while the Heat unearthed a diamond in the rough.

The regular season coming to an end also meant bitter disappointment for the three teams whose campaigns are now over.

The Inner Sanctum recaps all the results and biggest talking points of Round Six of BBL|12.

Round 6 results:

Brisbane Heat (7-160) defeated the Melbourne Stars (7-159) by three wickets

Heat: Matthew Renshaw 90*, Jimmy Peirson 22, Michael Neser 4-25, James Bazley 1-35

Stars: Nick Larkin 58, Beau Webster 36, Liam Hatcher 2-29, Adam Zampa 2-32

Sydney Sixers (5-203) defeated the Adelaide Strikers (144) by 59 runs

Sixers: Steve Smith 101, Kurtis Patterson 43, Ben Dwarshuis 3-28, Todd Murphy 3-35

Strikers: Alex Carey 54, Matt Short 40, Wes Agar 2-48, Cameron Boyce 1-25

Perth Scorchers (3-147) defeated the Hobart Hurricanes (9-146) by seven wickets

Scorchers: Aaron Hardie 90*, Josh Inglis 53, Lance Morris 2-21, Andrew Tye 2-30

Hurricanes: Tom Andrews 27, Nathan Ellis 24, Riley Meredith 2-35, Paddy Dooley 1-20

Sydney Thunder (2-144) defeated the Melbourne Renegades (9-142) by eight wickets

Thunder: Matthew Gilkes 74*, Alex Ross 40*, Usman Qadir 2-20, Chris Green 2-24

Renegades: Will Sutherland 42*, Martin Guptill 30, Corey Rocchiccioli 2-25, Will Sutherland 0-20

Perth Scorchers (3-94) defeated the Adelaide Strikers (92) by seven wickets

Scorchers: Aaron Hardie 43, Josh Inglis 22*, Peter Hatzoglou 3-14, Lance Morris 3-26

Strikers: Adam Hose 30, Wes Agar 11, Cameron Boyce 2-12, Matt Short 0-23

Brisbane Heat (6-162) defeated the Hobart Hurricanes (6-150) by 12 runs

Heat: Matthew Renshaw 41, Sam Hain 33*, Michael Neser 3-27, Matthew Renshaw 1-12

Hurricanes: Matthew Wade 45, Tim David 44*, Joel Paris 2-15, Riley Meredith 2-42

Sydney Sixers (2-187) defeated the Sydney Thunder (62) by 125 runs

Sixers: Steve Smith 125*, Moises Henriques 45*, Stephen O’Keefe 4-10, Sean Abbott 3-11

Thunder: David Warner 16, Joel Davies 10, Gurinder Sandhu 2-42, Chris Green 0-32

Brisbane Heat (4-188) defeated the Melbourne Stars (3-184) by four runs

Heat: Sam Hain 73*, Jimmy Peirson 57*, Mitch Swepson 2-32, James Bazley 1-15

Stars: Tom Rogers 41, Marcus Stoinis 36*, Luke Wood 2-38, Nathan Coulter-Nile 1-29

Perth Scorchers (5-212) defeated the Melbourne Renegades (5-202) by 10 runs

Scorchers: Cameron Bancroft 95*, Stephen Eskinazi 54, Ashton Turner 2-25, David Payne 1-31

Renegades: Aaron Finch 76*, Shaun Marsh 54, Matthew Critchley 2-34, Corey Rocchiccioli 2-42

Syndey Sixers (7-180) defeated the Hobart Hurricanes (8-156) by 24 runs

Sixers: Steve Smith 66, Ben Dwarshuis 30, Sean Abbott 2-32, Hayden Kerr 2-34

Hurricanes: Zak Crawley 49, Tim David 24, Paddy Dooley 3-42, Nathan Ellis 1-27

Melbourne Renegades (4-143) defeated the Adelaide Strikers (7-142) by six wickets

Renegades: Aaron Finch 63*, Matthew Critchley 35, Fawad Ahmed 3-17, Tom Rogers 1-12

Strikers: Alex Carey 65, Travis Head 19, Peter Siddle 1-24, Wes Agar 1-32

Hobart Hurricanes (9-120) defeated the Brisbane Heat (8-118) by two runs

Hurricanes: Mac Wright 56, Caleb Jewell 17, Faheem Ashraf 2-19, Nathan Ellis 2-26

Heat: Jimmy Peirson 39, Sam Hain 26, Michael Neser 4-35, Spencer Johnson 2-20

Sydney Thunder (7-120) defeated the Melbourne Stars (7-119) by three wickets

Thunder: Daniel Sams 28, Matthew Gilkes 20, Usman Qadir 3-24, Chris Green 2-19

Stars: Hilton Cartwright 36, Tom Rogers 35, Adam Zampa 3-26, Beau Webster 1-8

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Five Talking Points

1. Smith puts the six in Sixers

Who said Steve Smith isn’t a good T20 batter?

After sitting on the sidelines for most of Australia’s World Cup campaign last year, the former Test captain returned to the BBL and played like he had a point to prove.

Smith’s batting this season has defied his previous form in the 20-over format, with the Sixers’ decision to make him an opener proving to be a masterstroke.

Prior to his four BBL games, Smith only had one T20 century to his name (in the IPL in 2016) and Sydney surprisingly had never had a player reach triple figures in franchise history.

It only took two games against the Strikers and Thunder to change that, with Smith hitting back-to-back 100s in masterful batting displays.

He was on a similar trajectory against the Hurricanes on Monday before being trapped on 66 by Nathan Ellis.

While Smith’s innings have possessed his usual poise and class, he has added a power-hitting element to his game that he has rarely shown before.

This was on full display with his ability to clear the boundary, as it only took the right-hander four games to hit the most sixes for the tournament (24).

The only downside is Smith won’t be around for too much longer. He will only be available for week one of the finals before flying off with the Test squad to India.

2. Scorchers primed for title defence

To the surprise of no one, the Scorchers are in a strong position to secure a historic fifth BBL championship.

But it hasn’t been a cakewalk for the reigning champs, with Perth experiencing a litany of setbacks throughout its campaign.

All three of its international signees (Phil Salt, Laurie Evans, and Tymal Mills) were gone before the season started, Mitch Marsh and Cameron Green were ruled out due to injury, its international openers (Faf du Plessis and Adam Lyth) departed halfway through the tournament, and Jhye Richardson has missed the back half of the season with a hamstring strain.

But the Scorchers’ depth and home-grown talent have shone through once again, securing the team another first-place finish.

Cameron Bancroft and Stephen Eskinazi have proven themselves to be quality openers, with Bancroft, in particular, making three unbeaten 50+ scores since returning to the line-up.

Aaron Hardie’s move to number three has been a revelation, with the all-rounder’s form putting him firmly in the frame for an international T20 call-up.

The experience of wicketkeeper Josh Inglis and skipper Ashton Turner has ensured Perth’s middle order is just as strong as its top order.

Its bowling attack boasts a wealth of experience with Andrew Tye, Jason Behrendorff, and Matthew Kelly all delivering once again. The team is also holding out hope that Richardson could return sometime during the final series.

Ahead of a blockbuster home Qualifier final against Sydney on Saturday, Perth is in a strong position to go back-to-back.

3. Johnson ice cold at the death

Brisbane’s most impactful in-season inclusion hasn’t been Marnus Labuschagne or Usman Khawaja, but a previously uncapped quick from South Australia.

Most BBL fans wouldn’t have heard of Spencer Johnson before this season, but he’s quickly become an important catalyst in the Heat’s unlucky rise to the finals.

The 27-year-old has added a point of difference to Brisbane’s bowling attack since his debut just two weeks ago.

His searing 150km/h pace creates problems for batters and he has worked beautifully in tandem with the experienced Michael Neser.

But strangely enough, Johnson’s value hasn’t been expressed through wickets (five from his six games), but rather his economical bowling at the death.

He was handed the ball in the final over against the Hurricanes and Stars when both games were on the line.

Johnson had to stare down the likes of Tim David, Marcus Stoinis, and Hilton Cartwright but remained cool and calm.

When the Hurricanes needed 18 runs to win, Johnson only gave up five. The following game the Stars were chasing 14 runs in the final over, he only conceded nine.

It’s a testament to the Heat’s faith in Johnson that they turned to him to close it out in just his fourth and fifth BBL games, and he delivered both times.

Those wins ensured Brisbane made the finals, a remarkable recovery for the club after previously sitting at 2-7.

The men in teal will likely be calling on their emerging quick once again against the Thunder to help get the job done in the Eliminator.

4. Renegades rise from the bottom

After three consecutive wooden spoons, the Renegades have finally returned to the finals.

It’s the first time they have featured since their breakthrough BBL|08 title and comes after a vastly improved, but inconsistent season.

After starting the tournament with four wins in a row Melbourne’s form fluctuated at times, but the team rallied against Adelaide on Tuesday to secure a finals berth.

The Renegades’ more experienced players have been crucial to their success, with Aaron Finch in particular starting to look ominous at the right time.

The Australian T20 skipper has hit back-to-back scores of 76* and 63* and looms as an important factor in any further success his side could experience.

Opener Shaun Marsh has also looked in good touch since returning from injury, while Jonathan Wells has played his usual stabilising role in the middle order.

The bowling attack is led by the experienced duo of Kane Richardson and Tom Rogers, with Rogers proving to be one of the recruits of the season, taking 21 wickets.

There are still younger players making meaningful contributions though, with Sam Harper finding a spot at number three and all-rounder Will Sutherland delivering on his huge potential with his power-hitting down the order.

While it remains to be seen whether the Renegades can do any damage in the finals, their BBL|12 campaign is already a success after three tough seasons at the bottom.

5. Season over for three teams

The regular season coming to an end meant it was curtains for the Melbourne Stars, Adelaide Strikers, and Hobart Hurricanes.

The Stars never truly got going, with the three-win team languishing near the bottom of the ladder for most of the season.

They were always going to struggle when Glenn Maxwell was ruled out for the tournament, though Adam Zampa’s captaincy was one of the few highlights.

British duo Luke Wood and Joe Clarke also delivered with the bat and ball respectively, while all-rounder Beau Webster enjoyed his best BBL campaign.

Once the league’s glamour club, Melbourne could be due for a major shake-up with coach David Hussey leaving to become Cricket Victoria’s Head of Male Cricket.

The Strikers looked dangerous at times but collapsed at the end of the season with five losses in a row.

They had two of the best batters in the tournament, the competition’s leading run-scorer Matt Short and a resurgent Chris Lynn, but were let down by inconsistent bowling.

Adelaide struggled to replace the quality of Lynn and Rashid Khan when the pair departed for the SA20 and ILT20 leagues. Returning Test duo Alex Carey and Travis Head were expected to fill that talent void, but the latter failed to deliver in his four games.

Finding another quality opening batter, retaining Lynn, and building a better bowling attack would be high on the Strikers’ priority list.

The Hurricanes had one of the most talented sides on paper, but they never truly came together or played a complete game.

The top-heavy batting line-up rarely fired in unison, with personnel and order changes consistently made throughout the season. It led to Hobart often being its own worst enemy with its batting collapses and lapses in the field.

On a more positive note, cult hero Paddy Dooley was one of the stories of the tournament, while Nathan Ellis and Riley Meredith expertly anchored the bowling. Opener Caleb Jewell also impressed in stages, while Tim David took on a bigger role for the team.

The BBL Finals start on Friday when the Thunder and Heat face off in the Eliminator.

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