Shaun Marsh made a shock return from injury to help power the Perth Scorchers to a 39-run victory over the Hobart Hurricanes in Friday night’s Big Bash League final at the WACA Ground.
The result ended a 10-year title drought for West Australian cricket.
The last piece of silverware to arrive at the WACA was in 2003/04 when the Warriors won the one-day title.
Marsh was deemed too risky to take on the Test tour of South Africa after he injured his calf on January 26.
But the 30-year-old showed national selectors they probably should have stuck by him, with the left-hander cracking an unbeaten 63 off 43 balls in the Scorchers’ formidable 4-191.
In reply, Hobart was restricted to 7-152 despite the best efforts of skipper George Bailey, who posted 58 off 32 balls.
Perth had lost the past two BBL finals at the WACA, but it was a case of third time lucky on the back of important knocks from Shaun Marsh, Craig Simmons (45 off 36 balls) and Mitch Marsh (37 off 12).
Evergreen spinner Brad Hogg (2-17 off four overs) then did the damage with the ball, ensuring the fanatical 20,783 crowd went home happy.
“It’s a great win. We’ve had our ups and downs,” Hogg said.
“We’ve been in it for three years. We didn’t want to lose it for three years in a row.”
Hobart produced the shock of the tournament when they beat the Melbourne Stars in the semi-finals.
And they made a strong start to the final, restricting Perth to 1-15 after four overs.
But from there Hobart’s bowlers copped a hammering, with Dimitri Mascarenhas (1-46), Doug Bollinger (0-38) and Cameron Boyce (0-39) all feeling the pain.
Former Test paceman Ben Hilfenhaus (1-23 off four) came away relatively unscathed, but the absence of injured paceman Ben Laughlin proved telling.
Hobart needed two or three players to make big knocks if they were to have a chance of victory.
But only Bailey (six fours, two sixes) could produce anything of real substance.
Bailey was lucky to make it past one after being dropped by a diving Mitch Marsh.
Marsh did well just to get to the fall of the ball, and had it in his hands for a split second before spilling it as he slid along the ground.
Bailey was caught on 32 – by Fremantle Dockers utility Tendai Mzungu in the crowd.
The Australian T20 captain reached his half-century off just 29 balls.
But with the required run rate more than 11 an over, Bailey holed out in the 15th over when he mistimed a straight slog down the ground.
“Tonight is a great tribute to the way the guys have played. They have a great fighting spirit,” Scorchers coach Justin Langer said
“I’m just so proud of the boys. They’ve worked so hard. It’s a great team to be involved in.”