Brisbane Heat 5/205 (20 Overs) v Adelaide Strikers @ Adelaide Oval
1. The Heat have a clear tactic of going hard at everything in the opening six overs. I don't think they will change tact at all throughout the BBL. To go 0/79 is an ominous sign that the Heat mean business this BBL6. There were really no sighters with both Peirson and McCullum dancing down and launching in their opening couple of deliveries. To me that is two fold. Obviously in McCullum and Pierson they have two guys whose natural games involve brutal hitting, verging on calculated slogging. Whereas last night we saw the Thunder opening with traditional openers in Kurtis Patterson and Ryan Gibson, while the Sixers opened with a fairly conventional player in Daniel Hughes. The Heat also can afford to go harder earlier, as they have a deeper batting line up than both the Sydney sides. They won't be scared to lose two or three wickets early because with the likes of Lynn, Burns, Reardon and Cutting in the middle and lower order, they will back themselves to keep launching. While occasionally this tactic will backfire, it means the Heat have a higher ceiling than both Sydney sides. They are capable of scoring 200 plus regularly with this aggressive approach in the Power Play. They destroyed Adelaide from the opening over here and they never recovered.
2. The Strikers appeared to have to try and bang the ball in and try to cramp both batsmen. However, it backfired badly as Pierson played beautifully off his legs and McCullum was able to premeditate and set himself for a few short balls. It's common knowledge McCullum has close to the quickest bat speed in the game, and giving him width is fraught with danger. However, the tactic became predictable in the opening four overs and with a bit of tennis ball like bounce, the batsmen were able to step away and really launch into a number of leg side boundaries. Again, like the Sixers attack last night, there wasn't a whole lot of variation in terms of slower balls, or really menacing bouncers. Both players appeared to really like pace on the ball and, while it is easy to say in hindsight, I think maybe opening with a spinner or Keiron Pollard might have been able to stem the flow. T20 bowling is all about not letting batsmen get into the rhythm, and the Strikers played into McCullum and Pierson's hands by continuing to use pace on the ball on a wicket with decent carry.
3. I said in the preview Keiron Pollard would be one of Adelaide's better bowlers and so it proved here. He might not be the most popular bloke on the cricketing circuit, however he is a fabulous T20 cricketer. With 336 T20 games under his belt, he is the second most experienced T20 player on the globe, behind his compatriot Dwayne Bravo on 342. While he usually gets the headlines for his big hitting and big mouth, he really dragged the Strikers back into the contest here with some canny medium pace bowling claiming 2/27 from 4 overs with the big wickets of McCullum and Pierson. Straight away he assessed the situation and took all the pace off the ball, bowling some nice off cutters and slower balls. He also used the crease, and varied the pace of his run up. Nothing looked exactly the same and he never allowed the batsmen to use the pace or get into a rhythm against him. Pollard also isn't afraid to throw a few verbals out there and get involved in one-on-one battles. Every side needs one or two attack dogs or nigglers. I wasn't a huge fan of the whole sledging side show, but I liked having one or two of them in my team.
4. It's been a bit of a trait for relatively unknown spinners to do well in BBL cricket. We thought T20 cricket might be the death of spinners, however sides that have won silverware often have lifted trophies on the back of excellent spin bowling. Tonight debutant Liam O'Connor did a great holding job for the Strikers in the middle overs. It's an advantage in a way for a side, provided the debutant can handle the occasion, as I would argue no one in the Heat line up would have faced O'Connor before. Given he has not played a First Class game, it might have been hard to find any video on him to work out what style of leg spinner he was and how best to attack him. Therefore you're more likely to have a few sighters, or just be a little late on reading his variations. O'Connor bowled pretty well here, however I was a little surprised the Heat didn't target him in his 1st or 2nd over and try and put him off his length. I think sides might be able to get after him later in the series, as there doesn't appear much mystery about him. I wouldn't be surprised if someone like Thunder rookie spinner Ajun Nair did really well.
5. There is nowhere to hide as a cricketer. Travis Head is a very good fielder, however he had a night to forget here putting down two relatively simple chances. It makes it even worse when no name security guards take a catch when he is not even watching the game. It's funny when those things happen the balls tends to follow you in the field. Like a batsman who is not scoring runs, you can't pack up and go home and hide. You have to sit there and watch your team mates bat for five hours. Your scores and your average are there for all to see. In the field you have to sit and wait and think, and the more you think the more negative thoughts come into your head. It's easier to hide in other sports like League or Soccer or AFL. It's not all numbers based and if you're not playing well you can go home after a couple of hours. I admire all cricketers at any level, however at the professional level, in front of 40,000 fans, there really is nowhere to hide and you need a lot of self belief to bounce back from slumps or fielding nightmare.
6. "The Lurker" went for an upset tipping the Heat with confidence tonight, and their batting line up have given him a great chance to go 2 from 2 . The Strikers did well to drag things back for a while but folded in the end as the Heat racked up as imposing 5/205 Heat now come into a pretty strong favourite at half time here, however Adelaide's strength lies in their batting, while the Heat look a but thin on the ground in terms of T20 bowling experience.