Test paceman Jackson Bird made an outstanding return from injury after a blistering Luke Wright innings as the Melbourne Stars easily won their Big Bash League opener.
Bird was on a hat-trick, took 4 for 31 from his four overs and also helped execute a run out to help the Stars beat local rivals the Renegades by 76 runs on Friday night at the MCG.
The Renegades were dismissed for 132 in 17.3 overs.
It was Bird’s first match at state level since injuring his back during the fourth Ashes Test in England earlier this year.
The Stars scored a team-record 7 for 208 and the Renegades struggled in the face of big chase.
In the fourth over of the innings, Bird took two wickets in three balls and the Renegades were in massive trouble at 3 for 30.
Their danger man and captain Aaron Finch only made 32 before he fell to a superb outfield catch by David Hussey, leaving them in a hole at 4 for 44.
A 67-run stand from Englishman Jos Buttler and Peter Nevill took the Renegades to 4 for 111 in the 13th over and they were still in the hunt.
But Bird removed Buttler and Nevill in successive balls to kill off the challenge.
Buttler top-scored with 49 and Nevill made 25.
Bird’s throw also helped run out Nathan Rimmington for four.
Earlier, English all-rounder Luke Wright top-scored with 70 from 32 balls.
He and captain Cameron White set up the innings with an opening stand of 95.
White made 53, while spin-bowling great Muttiah Muralidaran impressed with 1 for 23 from four overs.
Renegades paceman Jayde Herrick left the field late in the Stars’ innings with a side strain.
There was plenty of comment on Twitter about the shortened boundaries, which meant some mishits went for six.
“With the ropes in so far at the MCG for the T20, the bowlers are demanding twice the normal salary,” tweeted former Test paceman Rodney Hogg.