Brisbane Heat 3 for 174 (Lynn 84*, McCullum 72) beat Hobart Hurricanes 9 for 173 (Christian 33, Wildermuth 2-26, Steketee 2-29) by seven wickets
Fireworks are common place on New Year’s Eve, but 24 hours out from year-end celebrations, Brendon McCullum and Chris Lynn put on a pyrotechnic display at the Gabba to guide Brisbane Heat to their third straight victory.
Set 174 to win, McCullum and Lynn made light work of the chase with some extraordinary striking. The duo were brought together at 1 for 9 in the second over and lit up the Gabba. They put on 109 runs in just 53 balls before McCullum holed out.
Lynn kept going to finish unbeaten for the second straight match, and struck consecutive sixes to run the total down with 22 balls to spare.
The Hurricanes were never in the hunt as 173 was well under par on a superb batting surface. Some excellent bowling from Mark Steketee and Samuel Badree upfront reduced the visitors to 3 for 42, and they lost wickets at regular intervals thereafter.
Anything Baz can do, Lynn can do better
Few players can hit the ball cleaner and longer than McCullum, but Lynn did so repeatedly in a partnership that essentially became a six-hitting contest. The pair cleared the ropes 11 times between them, Lynn managed seven compared to McCullum’s four. The former New Zealand captain laid down a marker when he charged down to Stuart Broad and launched him into the second tier, over long-off. Lynn raised the stakes with the biggest hit of the tournament off Shaun Tait, hitting him out of the ground with a strike that was measured at 125 metres. He winked at McCullum moments after it sailed over the Gabba roof. It was longer than Daniel Christian’s six at the same venue last season. Lynn miscued another six two balls later that went 90 metres straight. He also cleared the boundary over cover and wide third man, showing his range and versatility.
When your luck’s in, your luck’s in
Lynn was dropped three times during his amazing 85 not out against Sydney Thunder on Wednesday. He was dropped again third ball of this innings. He launched one to deep midwicket, and D’Arcy Short had to cover a lot of ground to his left. He got his hands to it but couldn’t hang on. He was dropped again on 60, but in reality, Cameron Boyce saved four as the return catch was struck with such force that it could’ve broken his hand. Lynn also skied the ball multiple times only for it to land just wide of fielders and into gaps that could easily have found fieldsmen on another day. McCullum also led a charmed life, but when the ball is struck with such power, it requires some outstanding hands to hang onto the chances.
Bailey bogs his bat
George Bailey was run out under the most unfortunate circumstances at a critical moment in the first innings. The Hurricanes were 3 for 60 after seven overs with Bailey and Christian trying to start a partnership. Christian cut a ball through backward point and the pair appeared to be cruising to an easy three runs. Alex Ross fired a great throw from the deep, but Bailey was going to make his ground comfortably until his bat got stuck in the ground, just short of the crease, as he tried to slide it in. Jimmy Peirson, the Heat wicketkeeper, whipped off the bails while Bailey’s feet were in the air, his bat underneath his body, having bogged in the soft turf just to the side of the pitch. The run-out left the Hurricanes reeling with their three most experienced batsmen back.
Kumar Sangakkara is a modern great, and his international record in all formats is staggering. But he has not been able to get going in the Big Bash League since joining the Hurricanes last season. His struggles started in his first innings in the competition, last year, when he was out first ball. He made 43 in his second game. But in 10 innings since then, he has failed to reach 20 once. He has scored just 148 runs at an average of 13.45 in 11 appearances for Hobart. He looked in vintage touch early against the Heat, reaching 12 off seven balls with back-to-back boundaries against the offspin of Jason Floros. But his uncharacteristically lean run continued when Badree skidded a shorter ball through and trapped him in front of leg stump.
Alex Malcolm is a freelance writer based in Perth