By leading Perth to a convincing victory over Brisbane in the BBL on Wednesday night, The Australian selectors needed a timely reminder that Aaron Hardie is the next all-rounder in line for greater recognition.
The Big Bash League leaders, Hardie and keeper Josh Inglis cruised to the top despite Brisbane’s unveiling of their newest hidden gem.
With eight wickets and 22 balls remaining on Wednesday night at the Gabba, the Scorchers defeated the Heat to earn their seventh victory in nine starts.
With only five games left, the loss has the Heat floundering three wins outside the top five.
The pair were unbeaten and trouble-free after joining forces with work to do at 2-25 in the fourth over. Inglis scored 67 off 35 balls, contributing to a 132-run stand with Hardie (65 off 45).
The damage was done in the first inning for the visitors by Jason Behrendorff (3-21), who was named man of the match after destroying the Heat’s Test-bolstered batting order and taking his 100th BBL victim in the process.
The Heat entered the match early thanks to left-arm quick Spencer Johnson (0-22 off 3 points and two overs), who made an impressive debut with his pace and bounce.
Inglis praised Behrendorff, saying, “He swings the ball up front, which is essential in T20, and he always gets it right to take wickets during the power play.”
And Johnson (with a slight delay in his action) had difficulty picking up his length and was progressing faster than we had anticipated. “
The game changed when Usman Khawaja, who was serving as captain on his Heat debut after joining in the off-season from the Sydney Thunder, switched Johnson out for Marnus Labuschagne.
As a result of some errant throws and shoddy fielding, Inglis and Hardie scored 20 runs off the legspinner in his single over.
When asked if his eyes glowed at the sight of Labuschagne’s first stray ball, Inglis replied, “Yeah, they did.”. But following the first one, I made sure to turn it on. I’d never learn the full story if Marn got me out because I know how much he enjoys bowling. “
Johnson, a 27-year-old South Australian, played three one-day matches for the Redbacks as early as 2017. He had a severe ankle injury in his early 20s.
However, he resurrected his career by relocating to Brisbane last year.
He impressed in Brisbane’s T20 competition to force his way into the BBL squad, and after the Heat left out regulars Mitchell Swepson and Mark Steketee, he finally earned a debut. Josh Brown, another Heat surprise package, did the same.
When the power surge began, Khawaja called on Johnson to bowl, but by that time, Inglis and Hardie were on fire, with the latter capping the chase with a mighty six over mid-on.
Before dismissing Brown (18), Labuschagne (10), and Matt Renshaw (28) just as they were about to escape, Behrendorff had the Heat’s number. Inglis missed a challenging opportunity off Khawaja.
Before Max Bryant’s strong finish (36 off 27), he bowled during the power surge that backfired on the hosts, who lost 2-11 in those two overs.