Following on from our analysis of the best Big Bash batting innings’ of the past ten years, now the focus shifts onto the finest bowling displays from the decade of the tournament to date. As with the batting analysis, it will be split into two, moving through on a team-by-team basis to judge the greatest bowling performances for each side. Here is the first half of that analysis.
Adelaide Strikers – Ish Sodhi 3.3-0-11-6 vs Sydney Thunder, 18/1/17
In a dazzling display of leg-spin bowling, Ish Sodhi produced the second-best Big Bash figures to date as he twirled the Adelaide Strikers to victory over the Sydney Thunder in BBL06. Demonstrating his full repertoire of variations in both speed and spin, the New Zealander tore through the heart of the Thunder’s batting line-up to collect outstanding figures of 6-11 from just 3.3 overs, enabling a 77-run victory for his side as they dismissed their opponents for just 101.
His first victim was Carlos Brathwaite, the West Indian all-rounder bowled by a textbook googly he didn’t pick, reducing the score to 81/4 which soon set off a batting collapse. Ben Rohrer and Jay Lenton both failed to account for the orthodox purchase manufactured by Sodhi to be bowled and leg-before respectively, taking their score to 92/7, before Sodhi took the last three wickets – Arjun Nair caught behind from a ball he tossed slower and wider, Chris Green seeing a heave to cow corner caught by Michael Neser and Clint McKay bowled by another googly – to seal their success. Sodhi’s ball-by-ball graph can be seen below, with each colour representing a given over and wickets denoted by X figures.
It can be seen that his first over was his least effective by a relatively large margin, as not only did he fail to collect a wicket but he also went for seven runs, albeit his runs conceded did decrease from over-to-over. It was in his second over that he snared his first victims, seeing off both Brathwaite and Rohrer within the space of four balls, to start a trend of bagging two wickets an over that continued for the last two overs of his spell.
Only the Thunder captain Shane Watson took more than one wicket in the match apart from Sodhi, but he conceded 42 runs from his four overs at an economy of 10.50. Meanwhile, only teammate Neser could boast an economy to challenge Sodhi’s miserly 3.14, the pace bowler giving away only five runs from his two overs – including, remarkably for T20 cricket, a maiden – to end with an economy of just 2.50.
The spinner’s spell is one of the best ever seen in the competition, his world-class ability fully showing itself in a captivating display of guile, poise and mystery. It is very much the loss of the Strikers, the tournament and its spectators that he has never been able to return to the Big Bash as of yet.
Brisbane Heat – Samuel Badree 4-0-22-5 vs Melbourne Stars, 14/1/16
One of the first almost exclusively T20-only players, West Indian leg-spinner Samuel Badree has been one of the leading white-ball slow bowlers of the recent years. His preference for the shortest format is indicated by the fact that his last 50-over appearance came in March 2013, whilst his most recent first-class performance was way back in February 2009. Never a huge turner of the ball, the Trinidadian’s wicket-to-wicket style is one that ensures the batsman is always tested with the stumps almost constantly being targeted – and it was in his only Big Bash stint to date that he produced, for our money, the leading bowling performance by a Brisbane Heat bowler, with 5/22 against the Melbourne Stars in BBL05.
Not only did he produce such outstanding figures, but his victims were also five of the top six Stars batsmen and read as such: Luke Wright, Kevin Pietersen, Marcus Stoinis, Peter Handscomb and Rob Quiney – all players capable of single-handedly taking down a bowling attack – decimating the Melbourne team’s chances in their chase of 189 in the process.
Badree’s tight nature accounted for both Wright and Pietersen, the former playing on when looking to drive and the latter missing a sweep to be hit on the pad dead in-front. His subtle and effective changes of pace were also evident in dismissal of Handscomb as he tossed it up slower and wider to entice the Australian down the track, deceiving him in the flight to see him stumped. As can be seen in the graph below, taking wickets regularly was vital in his gaining of a stranglehold over the Stars. As has proved to be the case, particularly in the shorter form, being able to take wickets and remove batsmen is a vital tool in gaining an advantage over the batting team as opposed to merely being defensive and trying to just prevent runs. An excellent first over went for just two runs and a wicket, and whilst he did go for ten off his next, it also included the removal of Pietersen and Stoinis, a more-than suitable reward for being that little bit more costly in the over as a whole. This double-wicket trend continued into his third over, this time going for just five runs, and although his final over was wicketless, the damage had already been long done by this point.
When comparing Badree to the other bowlers in the match (as seen above), it is no surprise that Badree is by far-and-away the highest wicket-taking bowler in the game. However, he was backed up well by teammates Josh Lalor (2/21) and Mitchell Swepson (2/29), whilst Adam Zampa and Ben Hilfenhaus also picked up a couple of wickets apiece for the Stars, albeit both at a higher economy rate than any of the Heat bowlers with the same total of wickets. James Hopes was a perhaps underrated part of the Heat’s bowling functionality as a unit with his figures of 0/17 from his four overs, his tight lines and miserly economy allowing his fellow opening bowler Badree to collect the vast wicket haul that he did.
Like Sodhi, it is a shame that Badree was not able to demonstrate his undoubted ability over a longer period in the Big Bash as opposed to just the one season. However, again like his fellow leg-spinner, his impact during his time in the tournament was huge.
Hobart Hurricanes – D’Arcy Short 4-0-21-5 vs Sydney Thunder, 24/1/20
Renowned as one of the biggest-hitting batsmen in the tournament, it is actually with the ball that D’Arcy Short makes his way onto our list by virtue of his figures of 5/21 against the Sydney Thunder in BBL 09. Chasing 186, the Thunder were well on their way to their target as they sat at 100/2 after 12 overs with Alex Hales 63* off 40 balls and ready to take the game deep. However, Short’s left-arm wrist spin clawed the momentum of the match back in favour of the Hurricanes as he removed Hales firstly, and then numbers four, five and six to rip the heart out of the Sydneysiders’ batting line-up and cause the Thunder to collapse to 128 all out.
His dismissal of Hales was the catalyst for the Thunder to start to shake, tempting the Englishman with a ball delivered with slightly more flight that he attempted to dispatch over the leg-side but could only succeed in edging the ball down to third man. Chris Morris was then removed only four balls later as he was hit in-front when trying to work to leg, whilst Jay Lenton and Alex Ross were both later caught at mid-wicket, albeit from an attempted sweep and pull shot respectively. The removal of Ross was the final nail in the Thunder’s coffin as he fell for 36 from 27 balls, the only set batsman who could have seen his side home, but when he mis-timed a shot out to the leg-side the score moved to 121/7 and, with only numbers nine, ten and eleven remaining, saw the Thunder’s chances plummet. Short’s first five-for was then wrapped up three balls after Ross’ dismissal, as Arjun Nair mistimed a slog to leg and was caught at mid-wicket. His ball-by-ball innings worm can be seen below.
The least productive over of Short’s spell was his first, where he went wicketless as he conceded six runs. However, his second over brought about the wickets of Hales and Morris for the conceding of just the same total as in his first, whilst his third saw Lenton out as he gave away just five runs. Finally, his closing over produced the removal of Ross and Nair, again for just the five runs given away.
When analysing Short’s performance in comparison to the other bowlers of the match (below), it is clear to see not only his wicket-taking ability in the match, but also how tight and economical he was.
When it comes to wickets taken in the match it is only Daniel Sams who can come close to matching him with his figures of 4/34, but Sams’ economy of 8.5 is over three runs-per-over worse than Short’s 5.25. In fact, the only man to challenge Short’s economy is Nathan Ellis with his return of 1/12 off 2.3 overs, going at a rate slightly better than Short of 4.8. When looking at Short’s teammates, Scott Boland was the next-most threatening with his figures of 2/31, the right-armer being the only other Hurricanes bowler to get more than one wicket.
Although Short has made his name by being one of the most powerful opening batsmen in the white-ball game anywhere around the world, his contribution here in getting the man of the match award for his bowling, having been dismissed for a second-ball duck when batting, was huge. Without his match-winning spell there is a very good chance that his side wouldn’t have been able to claw their opponents back, and he was at the front and centre of the turnaround.
Melbourne Renegades – Dwayne Bravo 4-0-28-5 vs Hobart Hurricanes, 21/12/17
One of the many West Indian players to ply their trade almost solely in 20-over cricket in recent years – the fact that he has represented 23 teams in eight countries in the shortest format indicates his nomadic nature to a tee – Dwayne Bravo’s repertoire of variations, nous and guile is the reason why he is the leading T20 wicket-taker of all time to date with a remarkable 512, 122 ahead of Lasith Malinga in second. And it was five of these wickets, during which he gathered his 400th and collected during his spell with the Melbourne Renegades against the Hurricanes, that is the Renegades’ representative in our list.
Although the Trinidadian started his career as a genuine medium-fast bowler capable of delivering the ball up to around 85mph, his method with the white ball has been to use his slower ball as his stock delivery and then utilise the quicker one as the surprise one. His ways are known throughout the cricketing world; knowing them and being able to do something about them are two different things, as was proved here. All five of his wickets were caught from pace-off deliveries, none of his victims being able to resist their urges to hoick the tantalisingly steady balls to the other side of Tasmania.
Bravo was the first Renegades bowler to make a dent in the Hurricanes’ batting line-up, removing Alex Doolan for 26 as he sliced to short third-man and breaking an opening partnership of 53 with D’Arcy Short in just 5.5 overs in the process. Even though Short departed shortly afterwards too, number three Ben McDermott carried through their early momentum to take the Hurricanes to 114/2 after just 13.3 overs.
However, the experienced Bravo was again the man to halt the Hurricanes’ charge as McDermott skied the ball high into the sky, but ultimately into the hands of Aaron Finch at extra-cover too. As Hobart’s middle and lower order looked to add to their score late on, Bravo accounted for both Jofra Archer and Cameron Boyce with high hoiks that were caught on the leg-side boundary, before having Matthew Wade dismissed off the final ball of the innings to wrap up three wickets in the over and also his five-wicket haul, as he smashed one straight up and was caught by wicket-keeper Tim Ludeman. Restricting the Hurricanes to just a below-par 164 overall, Bravo was at the heart of this as his side then chased down their target for the loss of just three wickets with nine balls to spare. His ball-by-ball worm can be seen below.
Although the eye will probably be drawn to where the majority of Bravo’s wickets came, in his final over, his work up until that point was still excellent albeit just in a different plane. His over-by-over totals of runs conceded of five, four and eight kept a stranglehold on the Hurricanes’ scoring, and despite going for 11 off his last he was ultimately the only Renegades pace bowler to go at less than eight runs-per-over. Given the often frenetic nature of the 20th over of an innings it is not in itself a terrible achievement to go for 11 from it, and it is a testament to his skill set that he also consistently collected wickets throughout it to prevent the score from being even higher. His total of ten dot balls was also the highest of any bowler on his side and behind only Archer for the match as a whole.
When analysing Bravo’s achievements in terms of wickets taken and economy rate (above), it can be seen that he was by far-and-away the most successful bowler in the match in terms of scalps taken, with only Archer also taking more than one wicket with his 2/17 off four. The Englishman’s economy of 4.25 is superior to Bravo’s, although he was the only pace-on bowler to do so, with off-spinner Mohammad Nabi being the only other man to have an economy less than Bravo’s seven with his rate of 6.25.
Given the fact that the home side were once threatening to post what would have been a huge total, there can be no doubt that Bravo was vital in restricting them to a chasable score. His ability to be equally as effective both early and late on in an innings was there for all to see, and his bamboozling smorgasbord of deliveries was crucial in the Renegades securing the win.
Having analysed the first four teams, keep your eyes peeled for our analysis of the second four sides.