I was up early this morning and, having the house to myself with everyone else a-slumber, settled down to watch the Big Bash T20 semi-final between Perth Scorchers and Melbourne Stars. There was much to admire in a game that sold out in 30 minutes, with a capacity crowd and some great stars on view. Brad Hogg v Shane Warne was one battle, with Hogg bowling a superb spell that effectively turned the game in its second innings. Having said that, listening to Warne talk the audience through his spell, bowling wider, quicker, with more spin, with less spin was an education.
There are some good features in the excellent Fox Sports coverage, with the commentary of Greg Blewett, Mark Waugh and Brendan Julien excellent. The "umpire cam" in their sunglasses gave interesting angles, while the meter that assessed the power put into a shot was innovative, if nothing else. Star turn for me was the DJ, who actually played music that a family crows could all enjoy - maybe we could make him one of our T20 signings...?
The best innings came from Herschelle Gibbs who has had a fine tournament. His 71 from 46 balls put runs on the board on a slowish pitch and showed once again that a world-class player at the top of an innings can make a difference. Apart from him, the player who caught my eye was Mitchell Marsh, younger brother of Shaun, who at 20 looks a really fine prospect. His unbeaten 41 from 22 balls at the end of the innings included four big sixes, which he followed with the wickets of Adam Voges and Cameron White as a vaunted batting line up imploded spectacularly. David Hussey went first ball to a superb catch by the wicket keeper, while Marsh stayed in the action with two crucial catches.
Seeing a young man play with such freedom and aggression bodes well for Derbyshire, who of course have a number of them in the ranks. Such players are not restricted by reputations and the Perth crowd love the youngster, a player whose talent has thus far appeared more impressive than his returns. With young players you win some and lose some. They will make mistakes, but people are rightly more understanding of them when the potential is obvious. The one thing I hope Derbyshire fans could take from an enthralling match is that our young players need their support. Given that, they can turn our club into a challenging side over the next few seasons.
Tomorrow sees the Hobart Hurricanes and the Sydney Sixers contest the other semi-final. Brett Lee v Travis Birt, one of the batsmen of the tournament , should be a standout clash. The winner of that one should see their side into the final, though Hobart will be hoping that their talismanic all-rounder, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan can again come up with the goods, especially with Shane Watson back in the Sixers ranks.
My money is on the latter, who have looked a well-drilled team throughout.
Just like watching Derbyshire...