The stat: Carey is just the sixth player in a decade of the BBL to notch two centuries. The others are Usman Khawaja (Sydney Thunder), D’Arcy Short (Hobart Hurricanes), Aaron Finch (Melbourne Renegades), Luke Wright (Melbourne Stars) and Craig Simmons (Perth Scorchers).
The catch: With victory in their keeping and the Adelaide Oval crowd already sated, Michael Neser crowned the evening with a stunning grab. His Queensland Bulls and Australia Test squad teammate Mitchell Swepson sliced a big hit to the left of Neser at mid-off from Siddle’s bowling, and brought the fans to their feet as he flung himself full length and clutched it in one claw. He was mobbed by his Strikers teammates, who erased memories of their recent drubbing at the hands of Melbourne Stars (68 all out) with a clinical win.
The missed chance: Labuschagne might reasonably cite his unfamiliarity with the white ball in his first BBL game for the season, just two days after the thrilling conclusion of the Vodafone Test Series. Nonetheless, he was clearly disappointed not to hang on to the straightforward return catch offered by Carey on 26. Carey had just bludgeoned Labuschagne’s leg spin for consecutive sixes over mid-wicket when he offered the opportunity in the leg-spinner’s first over, and he made the Heat pay dearly for their lapse.
The old firm: Having oscillated between Phil Salt, Matthew Renshaw and Jake Weatherald in the opening role so far in BBL|10, the Strikers went into this crucial fixture with a tried and true combination. Jake Weatherald and Carey were the preferred first-wicket pair when Strikers won their first and only title three summers ago, and they revived memories of that campaign when they walked out together for the first time this season and raced to a 50-run stand – their sixth as an opening duo – in the fifth over of their team’s innings.
The gamble: Brisbane have taken to deploying skipper Chris Lynn as an opener to take advantage of the first Power Play and tonight he was partnered by Labuschagne, in his first match in teal since returning from the Test team. But facing a daunting run rate of almost 10 per over from the outset, the new-look combination managed just 23 for the first wicket. Lynn made 17 and Labuschagne fell for 28 six overs later.
The golden arm: Wes Agar continued his knack for claiming crucial wickets, and doing so closed the gap on Perth Scorchers’ spearhead Jhye Richardson on the BKT Golden Arm race. In his first two overs tonight, Agar snared Lynn, Labuschagne and England import Joe Denly and also removed Bryant to join Richardson on 21 wickets for BBL|10.
The collapse: Agar’s double-strike was followed by Peter Siddle’s pair of wickets in as many balls despite nursing a broken left thumb, as the Heat innings turned tepid. Brisbane lost 4-6 in 13 deliveries to crash from 1-23 to 5-68 and, effectively, out of the game.
The returning heroes: Australia Test squad members Labuschagne, Swepson (Heat), Travis Head and Neser (Strikers) were given the all-clear for their first BBL appearances for the summer after leaving the bio-secure ‘bubble’ in Brisbane and reporting negative COVID results upon arriving in Adelaide. It was a mixed return for the star quartet – Swepson’s first ball was a full toss belted to the cover boundary, and Labuschagne’s inaugural over brought consecutive sixes, a dropped catch and Weatherald’s wicket. Head posted 25 from 19 balls but his inclusion allowed Carey to return to the top of the order, while Neser took the new ball and the catch of the night – possibly the summer.
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The big picture: In addition to claiming maximum points and climbing into the top four, Adelaide’s huge score provided a welcome boost to their net run rate while Brisbane’s hefty defeat leaves them needing a minor miracle to qualify for the finals.
The next stops: Tonight’s game kicked off a final flurry of home games for the Strikers ahead of the finals. Their next assignments are back-to-back meetings with Sydney Thunder in consecutive days, on Sunday and Monday. By contrast, the Heat are back on the road for their penultimate regular season game against Renegades at Marvel Stadium – which hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for Chris Lynn’s men – on Saturday. Then, they’re back in Adelaide to tackle the Scorchers as part of the BBL’s triple-header on January 26.
(The story is published by Cricket Australia. InsideSport has made no changes to it)