A rapid spell from Mitchell Johnson and Michael Klinger’s unbeaten 71 helped the Perth Scorchers to an easy nine-wicket win over the Sydney Sixers in Saturday’s Big Bash League final at the WACA Ground.
Chasing just 142 for victory, Klinger and Sam Whiteman (41) took the wind out of the Sydney Sixers with a 75-run opening partnership that took just 7.3 overs to compile.
And, once Whiteman was gone, English import Ian Bell (31 not out) picked up the slack as the Scorchers made it three titles from the past four Big Bash seasons.
The damage was done in Sydney’s innings, though, and Johnson, who took 1-13 off four overs, starred with his express and economical bowling.
“It’s pretty awesome. It brings back old memories,” he said after the win.
“They were a tough opposition who seem to play their best in the final, but the last two games have been amazing. I’m enjoying it, loving it.
“I was just asked to go out, bowl and have fun, that is exactly what I have done.”
Johnson’s form has some contending he should be selected in the Australian Twenty20 team to play Sri Lanka in a three-match series in February.
“Playing here, I had fun, but I don’t think I will play international cricket again. That’s done and dusted,” a non-committal Johnson said.
Fresh off stunning figures of 3-3 in Perth’s semi-final win over the Melbourne Stars, Johnson beat the bat of Sydney’s Daniel Hughes (8) with his very first delivery.
The over went for just one, and, after Tim Bresnan (3-40) removed Hughes, Johnson dismissed Michael Lumb (5) when he edged behind.
In the madness of Johnson’s second over, Nic Maddinson – who played Test cricket for Australia this summer – was run out for one, as the Sixers slumped to 3-17 off three.
Their score at the end of the power play, 3-33, wasn’t much better, either, but Brad Haddin (38) and Sixers captain Moises Henriques (21) launched a fightback of sorts.
The pair’s 57-run partnership for the fourth wicket was broken by Jhye Richardson, who would later be named the man of the match for his 3-30.
Richardson not only removed Haddin, but also Henriques, and then Jordan Silk (3), to leave the Sixers reeling at 6-80.
A handy 32 from Johan Botha pushed the Sixers to 9-141, a defendable, if unimpressive score.
Early wickets were essential for Sydney to win but Whiteman plundered a six and three successive fours off Jackson Bird’s first over to give Perth all the momentum.
Whiteman followed it up with two sixes off Ben Dwarshuis (0-30 off four) in the next over and even the introduction of young player of the tournament Sean Abbott (0-33 off three) and Australia off-spinner Nathan Lyon (1-28 off four) barely stemmed the tide.
Lyon did eventually get Whiteman, stumped for 41, but it was the only Sixers wicket as Klinger – who finished as the tournament’s third highest run-scorer – and Bell guided Perth home.
“I’m speechless – this is a new experience, but this is a special moment,” paceman Richardson said afterwards.
Klinger added: “Sometimes the risks come off. 140 can be a tricky target. We just thought that we’ll come out here and take the game away.
“Whiteman was unbelievable in the first three, four overs, but our bowlers set this up for us. Our coaching staff is second to none.”
Sydney Sixers captain Moises Henriques said sorry to the crowd for his team’s showing.
“They came out firing, got on top of us early,” he said.
“We got a partnership but they just kept taking wickets throughout. Great effort to make a grand final, we won a few close battles but couldn’t get over tonight.
“Apologies, we couldn’t put on a better show.”
Sixers get some joy, though
Earlier on Saturday at the WACA Ground, veteran speedster Sarah Aley snared 4-23 to lead the Sixers to a seven-run win over the Scorchers in the Women’s Big Bash League final.
Chasing 125 to win in 38-degree heat, the Scorchers were restricted to 7-117 from their 20 overs.
Aley was the hero, grabbing the key early scalp of Elyse Villani (23), before returning to take two wickets in the second-last over to lift her team over the line.
“Some might call me a bottle of red wine – getting better with age,” 32-year-old player of the match Aley said with a laugh.
The Scorchers were cruising at 1-57 after nine overs, with openers Nicole Bolton (34 off 35 balls) and Villani setting up a solid platform.
But a sensational run-out from Lauren Smith changed the momentum of the match.
And with Aley, Kim Garth (1-20 off four overs) and Dane van Niekerk (0-14) bowling well, the required run rate became out of reach for the Scorchers.
– with AAP