Brisbane Heat drop six wickets after being eliminated by a measly 125
Melbourne stars 4 for 129 (Cartwright 46 *, Maxwell 46, Wood 2-28) Brisbane Heat 125 (Cooper 26, Coulter-Nile 4-10, Hussain 2-25) by 6 windows
A rhythm bowling masterclass from Nathan Coulter-Nile helped the Melbourne Stars claim all four points against the Brisbane Heat in Canberra as they began their 10th season for that elusive BBL title.
Coulter-Nile took his career best figures of 4 out of 10 and produced two outings from his own bowling alley to ensure the unfortunate Heat was eliminated by just 125. The chase began nervously with Marcus Stoinis falling for a second ball as the stars scored. a run from the first two overs with Xavier Bartlett throwing a wicket maiden. They fell to 3 of 34 and were lucky not to fall further into the mud with Hilton Cartwright brought down in third place by rookie Jack Wood.
But Glenn Maxwell did what Glenn Maxwell does, hitting 46 of 26 balls to lead the chase and allow Cartwright to guide the team home with 46, not himself.
What’s up, Max?
Max Bryant was announced on BBL 08 as the heir to the throne of Chris Lynn. But after his first season in which he had 335 runs in 14 games, averaging 27.91 and hitting 150, his numbers have dropped dramatically. He has averaged just 15 and has been stuck at 136 in 11 games since then. He started this season with a torturous run of 20. He and Sam Heazlett hit during the first power game of four more without losing a wicket, but he scored just 19 runs, allowing Maxwell to throw two overs for just nine runs. Heazlett dropped the first ball of the fifth, leaving the Heat in uncharted territory.
Coulter-Nile performed at a magnificent pace for the Mumbai Indians in the IPL. It was too good for Bryant to extract an outside advantage and then force an error from Lynn with a well-executed cutter. The Heat fell badly from there. Aside from a weird one about where Maxwell threw the ball to Andre Fletcher, the Stars were ruthless. Tom Cooper briefly threatened 26 of 24, but Dilbar Hussain pitched it with a deft slower ball yorker. Cartwright produced an outstanding run-out straight hit from deep center to end Dan Lawrence’s debut BBL inning. He also took an equally brilliant catch in the long run corridor with the flight to take out Simon Milenko. Coulter-Nile closed the innings with two more wickets and two quick athletic runs to follow. He threw 15 point balls and gave no limits in his best BBL performance.
Marcus Stoinis was the BBL’s dominant starter last year, but Bartlett made a breakthrough on second ball. A late 140 km / h runner found Stoinis’s advantage as he tried to launch himself to the ground. The Stars didn’t score the first 11 innings deliveries with Fletcher and Cartwright bogged down. Fletcher broke the shackles with a soaring six over midwicket that he didn’t even feel the need to look. But it fell shortly after. Ben Dunk was promoted ahead of Maxwell, but he and Cartwright could only collect 14 16-ball runs. Cartwright was brought down by Wood in the third man off Bartlett before the left arm wrist brace made amends by eliminating Dunk with his first ball to leave the Stars in real trouble at 3-for-34.
In a game where the hitting was well below par on both sides, Maxwell shone like a beacon. His first task was to get the Stars the Power Boost point, which was almost out of reach until he hit Wood over cover and the midwicket in back-to-back deliveries in the ninth to ensure they reached 60 with two balls to spare in the tenth. His sheer ball hit took the pressure off Cartwright, who accelerated with a delightful six fly to the viewing screen. Maxwell tried to end the game by quickly hitting Wood twice on the hill in the middle of deep field before he was hit attempting a signature reverse sweep with 18 to win. Cartwright and Nick Larkin had no trouble closing it.
Alex Malcolm is a Melbourne-based freelance writer.