Melbourne Stars v Melbourne Renegades 4/171 (20 Overs) @ MCG
Cooper and White Propel Renegades
I said I had a feeling that Cameron White might fire against his old side and he did exactly that making a vital 64 not out from 42 balls to give them a fighting 4/171 agains the Stars. Some intelligent batting from both White and Tom Cooper rescued the Renegades to give them a chance of their first victory in their sixth game against their cross-town rival. What impressed me about White and Cooper's innings was their intelligence in using the big expanses of the MCG early in their innings to chip the ball around and manipulate the field. White is a class player and a pure striker of a cricket ball. Once he was set, he started to hit powerfully down the ground, clearing the ropes and getting underneath the ball at will. I called for greater contributions from the Renegades' middle order and Tom Cooper stepped up to the plate with a handy 36 from 25 balls, batting from Number 5. Cooper did not soak up any dot balls and kept the score ticking over even when the Renegades were forced to rebuild their innings.
Desperate Tactics From the Renegades Up Front
I think plenty of people would have been shocked to see Sunil Narine walk out to open the batting with Aaron Finch. Narine averages 8 in Test cricket, 11 in ODI cricket, and 11 in T20 cricket, so I can only describe the move as bizarre and desperate. The Renegades might argue the shock move paid off as Narine cracked 21 from 13 balls in a 38-run opening partnership with Aaron Finch. However, the move also pushed Cameron White down to Number 4 in the batting which I think is a strange move. White has 20 First Class hundreds and 47 fifties, as well as two ODI hundreds for Australia. Narine doesn't have one first class half century or century. To me it's a bit of a desperate move that lacks common sense. White should be given every opportunity to face 60 balls plus, not the 40 odds he fced tonight.
Faulkner Back to Near His Best At Home Ground
James Faulkner made the key breakthrough here, taking out Renegades' captain Aaron Finch just as he was starting to get going. After a scratchy first up effort in Hobart, Faulkner was back to somewhere near his best here coming around the wicket and bowling plenty of cutters and change ups to keep the Renegades in check after they made a fast start. Faulkner has not done a whole lot of bowling over the last few months, however often saves his best all-round performances for the MCG. Faulkner was the best of the Stars' bowlers, claiming the figures of 1/19 from his 4 overs.
MCG Crowd a Sign Of the Times
It was only a few days ago that Australia secured a last day victory against Pakistan in front of a near empty MCG. I can barely remember a Boxing Day Test ever with less hype and less coverage. Maybe it's just me, but it's been a really awful couple of Boxing Day Tests against the West Indies and now Pakistan. Fans voted with their feet tonight, pouring through the gates for another big Melbourne derby. While I am not sure the crowd will quite match the 80,000 that poured in last year, the upper deck was pretty full and it was a sight to see. While the Ashes will restore Test cricket's place in the hierarchy next summer, the runaway train that is T20 cricket is only getting bigger and faster in this country and across the cricketing globe.
Lurker Forced To Work For This One
The Lurker might be a little nervous at halftime here, with the Renegades putting up a competitive total on a slowish wicket at the MCG. He has also put us in the box seat with his high bat double with Cameron White landing the 1st leg by top scoring for the Renegades. If Glenn Maxwell can go nuts and top score, The Lurker will have tipped us into another monster double.