Australia v England – T20: Hobart’s balmy army hails Glenn Maxwell at Blundstone Arena

Australia 5/161 from 18.3 overs (Maxwell 103*, Short 30, Willey 3/28) d. England 9/155 from 20 overs (Malan 50, Maxwell 3/10, Agar 2/15).

 

For once, a big cricket fixture coincides with one of Hobart’s perfect summer evenings. The cycle to Blundstone Arena is pleasantly warm, without a hint of the penetrating sea breeze that often frequents Bellerive at this time of day. Normally that would signify a near capacity crowd, for Hobart’s only top-level international game of the summer. But for many of the potential audience, this is also the first day of the new school year, with the rest of the week to follow. So on arrival I can still see green on the general admission hill and large swathes of empty seats in the David Boon Stand, both of which would usually be populated with young families. The crowd ends up slightly disappointingly a tick under 10,000. But the members, with its distinctly older population, is packed, and I need to travel a fair way before finding a seat.

 

England are straight into it early, sustaining in excess of 10 an over in the early powerplay. The loss of Roy, trying to tip the ball past keeper Carey to the third man boundary but only succeeding in dollying it up lamely to extra cover, causes barely a blip in the scoring rate, Malan and Hales carrying on regardless.

 

But then Ashton Agar’s very first ball deceives Hales as he pops back a catch, taken comfortably by the bowler despite being momentarily unsighted behind the non-striker. Morgan comes in and the heavy scoring continues. Stanlake is nudging 150 km/h but is expensive, disappearing over mid wicket on one occasion.

 

Morgan skies one to counterpart captain Warner and is gone for 22 off 14. Then a slower ball strikes again, Buttler elevates one to mid off for a comfortable catch to Maxwell.

 

The run rate is now declining gently below 9. New batsman Billings gets a genuine nick attempting a drive, it flashes past Carey for 4.

 

Agar’s bowling is strangely magnetic tonight, batters just seem to want to hit easy catches back to him. Billings follows suit from Hales and departs. England’s batting is starting to thin out a little with 5 down and still 5 overs to go. The destiny of Malan’s innings promises to be crucial, but as soon as he brings up his 50 he’s gone, holing out to the cow corner boundary. Suddenly Maxwell is on a hat trick as Willey is stumped first ball. Definitely a night for the slow bowlers tonight. The end of the 16th over sees England 7/127 and struggling.

 

But Stanlake gets one back for the quicks, Rashid caught low down ten metres in from the square leg boundary. Curran shows him how it’s done, getting his first ball along the same line but twenty metres further for six. But just as quickly he’s gone as well, skying it to wide mid off and the wheels are coming off England at 9/137 after 18.

 

However they manage to bat out their 20. For a moment I think I might be in with a show of pouching Jordan’s massive six off the last ball from my perch in the second tier of the Ricky Ponting Stand, but its suborbital re-entry point is just short.

 

Australia’s target is 156.

 

Warner’s innings of 4 is over in less time than it takes to write about it: a bashed straight boundary first ball, then picks out the man at deep square leg off the second. Lynn disappointingly doesn’t survive the first over either, bowled by a Willey good ball.

 

D’arcy Short looks good early, that characteristically still head watching the ball disappear towards and over the boundary from several cracking pull shots.

 

Maxwell commences relatively sedately, but after a few overs he picks Curran’s slow leg cutter in his strike zone, it sails straight for six. Jordan goes similarly over square leg next over, then a miscue fortunately finds a gap and still goes for four. They’ve put on 50 in 30 balls.

 

Rashid beats Maxwell with his first couple, but then Maxi has seen enough, and the next two are smashed to opposite sides of the ground for six. Then Hales puts him down off a full toss from Curran. Maxwell charges blithely on into the 40s.

 

Short blasts one back at Rashid, but he’s equal to the task, and Short departs for 30 off 19. Stoinis arrives and is duly bamboozled by the balance of Rashid’s over, the ninth of the innings. Australia 3/83.

 

Maxwell opens his shoulders and brings up his 50 with a clout for four through extra cover.

 

The ground DJ has been struggling to get the crowd going, especially the members, but he strikes gold with Neil Diamond’s ‘Sweet Caroline’ – it’s clearly a better match for the target demographic than the earlier fare.

 

Stoinis holes out to mid on and makes way for Travis Head, but Australia are still cruising, the runs required figure steadily dropping towards parity with balls remaining.

 

Then controversy! Roy claims a catch off Maxwell at deep mid off that is eventually overturned by the third umpire on grounds of grounding. I suspect the detailed replays exaggerate the role of grass in these cases, however Roy’s fingers were very splayed as they came up clutching the ball. It should never have been that close, he seemed to expect the catch at waist height for most of its trajectory then only toppled forward at the last second as he realised it was dropping short. But it was Maxwell that he’d dropped, not Short.

 

Head is slow to get going with only 3 off 9, but it seems to matter not as Maxwell sails serenely into his sixties, and Australia riding along with him. With 30 balls remaining, they need 39 with six wickets in hand. Maxwell doesn’t look like offering another chance, he continues to hit gaps in the boundary field though the powerplay fielding restrictions are long gone.

 

Then Head misses a straight yorker and is bowled, the fifth wicket falls with 29 needed off 25. But Maxwell continues to hit the boundary almost at will, he’s 79 off 48. New batsman Carey is content to push singles and give Maxi the strike, a century is still mathematically possible if he plays his cards (and his strokes, and the strike) right. With 4 required he’s on 95. He clearly attempts a six, but only succeeds in a mistimed two off the last ball of the 18th over.

 

The Blundstone Arena crowd cheers as Carey obligingly pushes a single to tie the scores and give Maxwell the strike. A dot ball ensues from a bunt to cover, then the third ball of the over…Maxi launches it like a Falcon Heavy, it describes an arc just clearing the man on the boundary in front of the hill. Maxwell 103 not out, Australia win by five wickets with 9 balls to spare.

 

About Mark Duffett

Expatriate Croweater in Tasmania, still following Centrals in the SANFL. You can take the boy out of Salisbury, but...

Comments

  1. Is Glen Maxwell destined to become the KP of Australian cricket.

    That catch was clearly dropped. Roy grabbed it again on the rebound. But the really interesting thing is how much the Australian old guard hate Maxi. It was as dropped as you can get, the replay clearly showing the ball embedding itself in the grass, but that didn’t stop Michael Clarke ignoring the plain facts. I expect Steve Smith would have said it was out too.

  2. Hey Mark
    That must be the gravity anomaly map of Tassie? My ol buddy David Leaman would like the look of that. Why are the Mt Read Volcanics a low? I should ask my new buddy Esi

  3. Mark Duffett says:

    6%, I’ve had that image as my photo for years, but you are the first to correctly identify it! The MRV are a bit of a mixed bag gravimetrically; the lows you’re seeing in that region are down to the later Devonian granite intrusions (as also seen in east Tas). Esi can certainly tell you all about it, particularly the more subtle low (green) in the northwest.

    Sadly David Leaman (my former Honours and PhD supervisor, undoubtedly the single biggest influence on me professionally) passed away less than three weeks ago.

  4. Dave Brown says:

    It was an entertaining night’s cricket, Mark. Maxi continues to be Maxi – has more class in his little finger than most of the batsmen out there have in their whole bodies. Stoinis and Head disappointing – Carey is canny and assured (and should always bat higher than Stoinis in T20s).

    As for that non-catch, no doubt the camera foreshortens. However, as you note Roy’s fingers were splayed and he was holding a mostly spherical object. I buy the claim that fielders definitely know when they have caught it as much as I buy the claim batters always know when they have nicked it.

  5. btw – its all about me Mark, but I might add – Great story. Better in fact than todays papers in Melbourne. Maxwell is astounding – and he drinks at the Harp from time to time – which is not a good thing but to know that I would have to have been … um somewhere nearby.

  6. Luke Reynolds says:

    Great report Mark. Really enjoyed watching Maxwell’s innings. He’s doing everything he can, hopefully he can finish the Shield season off the way he started.
    What a late finish for a week night, no doubt a huge factor in the smaller attendance.

  7. Mark Duffett says:

    Thanks for the nice comments, everyone. Yep Luke, I would have been home before a lot of the cars that I rode past held up in the traffic after the game, but still didn’t make it until after 11:30 pm. It must have been close to a midnight homecoming for many. Way too late even for high school age kids (mine wisely declined), and I must admit I was struggling this afternoon. I’d have expected 5000 more if it had been scheduled either an hour earlier, or during school holidays.

  8. A great report, Mark. Sounds like it was a superb night at Bellerive.

    Maxwell’s innings was super. Agree with Neil – There are plenty of the old guard who don’t like him.

    And Warner? Sucked in (again) but Clarke – and later selector M Waugh – claim it was a case of “bad luck”. I cannot understand how a dismissal can be regarded as bad luck when the batsman hits it straight down the fielder’s throat??

  9. And totally agree with you regarding the timing. At the very least, it should have started at 7pm.

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