As it happened: Sydney Sixers v Brisbane Heat
The Sydney Sixers’ season is over. Hamstrung by injuries and international commitments it’s no great surprise.
Throw Moises Henriques, Nic Maddinson and Steve O’Keefe into the line-up and they probably win on Sunday night, particularly against a Brisbane Heat side that put down catch after catch. Add Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood into the mix for the odd guest appearance and they’re preparing for the semis, not next season.
As it was, a depleted Sixers were beaten by six runs despite the best efforts of veteran duo Brad Haddin, whose 42 from 24 balls came as he continued to suffer discomfort from a groin injury, and Michael Lumb (47 from 38).
The clash of the league’s bottom two teams never really reached great heights before a crowd of 24,192, the Sixers now having to set their minds on playing spoilers against Sydney Thunder in next Saturday’s expected sell-out.
If it was a disappointing night for the Sixers it was a mixed one for the Heat and in particular, their young leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson. The 22-year-old took a wicket with only his second ball and got the ultimate leggie’s stamp of approval, from Shane Warne, who said there was a “lot to like” about the way the Queenslander ripped the ball. He also bowled Jordan Silk with one that skidded on.
Swepson will, however, have hoped Warne was not watching when he put down an absolute gift at long-off that would have sent Haddin on his way for 26.
The veteran ‘keeper was then dropped an over later by Lendl Simmons and threatened to make the Heat pay for their profligacy. But just as he had pressed the hosts to within sight of a final dash at the target a catch finally stuck – and it was Swepson who took it very well at short third man. Not long after there was yet another spill, this time from Nathan Reardon. At that point, however, the Sixers, were all but gone anyway, with some last-gasp thrashing from Johan Botha narrowing the margin.
After a week in which the Chris Gayle affair was the dominant theme it was coincidentally Ladies Night at the SCG. It’s an annual event for the Sixers, the only difference being that one of the most successful franchises in the BBL has become used to being in more healthy shape than they were entering Sunday night’s contest.
There were all sorts of mathematical scenarios governing whether or not they could reach the semi-finals but the equation was pretty simple in other ways. Win, and keep your playoff chances alive. Lose, and it’s time to pull the whites out of the drawer for grade or Shield cricket or whatever is next.
The Sixers’ cause was done no harm by removing the dangerous Chris Lynn cheaply but another of the Heat’s big names was harder to contain. Joe Burns batted on the very same pitch for during the rain-ruined Sydney Test last week and his 60 from 52 balls – in combination with Simmons (54 from 30) wasn’t altogether foreign from conventional strokeplay he employs in the five-day game.
In fact, at one point Burns was so watchful that he faced seven dot balls in eight deliveries as the Sixers looked to tie him down with the spin of Test colleague Nathan Lyon, as well as Botha. He then cut loose, though, by heaving the South African for two sixes in a row.
The Test opener was eventually stopped by Sean Abbott via one of three good catches grabbed by Lumb. Abbott hasn’t enjoyed the most fruitful campaign but his late output earned him an enviable 3/8.
Later promoted by Haddin, Abbott’s run out summed up a chase – and a season – that never quite got going.