Perth Scorchers 178 for 5 (Turner 53, Kuhnemann 1-28) defeated Brisbane Heat 175 for 7 (McSweeney 41, Behrendorff 2-26) with five wickets
It ended with the Scorchers needing 10 from the final over, with Hobson going from villain to hero with a six and then a boundary to activate the bedlam in a near-capacity Optus Stadium. The crowd of 53,886 was the largest for a cricket match at Burswood and the fourth largest BBL crowd in history.
Connolly and Hobson, the unlikely heroes
For such a veteran side, the Scorchers endured a somewhat tardy performance with bat and ball that was punctuated by Stephen Eskinazi’s run from a direct toss after casually attempting an easy single. He failed to be aware of the play and barely tried to stretch out to make ground in an embarrassing dismissal.
After losing in-form Cameron Bancroft and Aaron Hardie in quick succession, the Scorchers were in trouble at 3 for 54 with the crowd muted.
However, Turner, who has made a number of saves this season in a bounce-back season for him. The Scorchers needed him to don his cape again with a run rate of over 11 and he put the foot down with a six off Xavier Bartlett, starting him and firing up the home faithful.
Turner was dominated in the batting by Josh English, a power hitter in his own right but who was content to play support. They put the foot down during power surges in the 15th and 16th overs as Turner brought up his half-century with a six.
But the match was turned upside down during a dramatic 17th over with Inglis being run out by Bartlett before Turner ran out in an awful mix-up with Hobson.
The Scorchers needed 39 off 19 runs, but Connolly stepped up and smashed 18 runs off James Bazley in the 18th over to turn the match.
Connolly, a former Australia Under-19 captain, rode his luck when he was dropped on 19 by Josh Brown in the deep before Hobson, an accountant by day, added to the Scorchers’ lore with the winning knock.
Johnson goes up but to no avail
The Heat’s remarkable late-season revival had been largely attributed to the returns of Test stars Usman Khawaja and Marnus Labuschagne. But spin-off Spencer Johnson also gave the Heat a jolt after his mid-season debut and has been growing in confidence under close guidance from Khawaja.
Nicknamed the ‘Italian Stallion’ due to his heritage, Johnson promised to be a handful on the traditionally pace-friendly Perth Stadium surface, having claimed his maiden BBL haul with three wickets in his last start against the Sydney Sixers. It didn’t disappoint. bowling at speeds close to 150 kmph and won the key of Hardy, who had beaten the Heat twice this season.
Johnson roared with pleasure as the Heat believed more and more, but in the end they failed in heartbreaking fashion. They will decry Brown’s downfall but will be very proud of almost claiming an improbable second title against all odds.
Behrendorff brings together his wealth of experience
It looked as if it was going to be a tough outing for veteran left-arm quick Jason Behrendorff after his superb opening over went haphazardly for 13 after three inside edges on the boundary by Brown.
But Behrendorf, the only player in the match who was part of the final between the teams a decade ago, was unfazed and continued to carry a grumble.
Taking their lead, the Scorchers did well to tie the Heat down after an initial attack from Brown, including spinner Connolly bowling just after the powerplay having bowled just one over in his short BBL career. He coped well with the pressure to concede just four runs, but the Scorchers struggled to dismantle a flourishing partnership between Nathan McSweeney and Sam Heazlett.
At 1 for 104, the Heat took the power surge in the 13th over at a crucial juncture with Behrendorff returning to finish his final over.
He struck immediately to dismiss Heazlett with a menacing short delivery caught at short fine leg and then dismissed skipper Jimmy Peirson in much the same way. Behrendorff finished 2 for 26 to stand out as his colleagues proved costly.
Bryant rediscovers his best
Pearson bravely decided to bat even though the Scorchers had almost clinched the chase this season with a 9-2 record when he batted second, including a double sailing over the line against the Heat.
Perhaps he was swayed by the sweltering temperatures, which hovered at 38C when the game kicked off, forcing some fans to seek relief in the stadium’s pits.
Once part of a disastrous opening partnership with Chris Lynn, Bryant had failed to earn a regular place before being recalled against the Sydney Sixers last start. He rolled back the clock and his momentum carried over to a last-ball six from Bartlett to lift the Heat to a highly competitive total that ultimately proved not to be enough.
Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth