BBL Heat v Renegades – Good, Ordinary Cricket

BBL is now a part of the summer background noise that is cricket – something on because nothing else is.

 

Last season, I popped in and out, aggregating the quality of the contest against the importance of whatever other distractions were available.

 

It represented a hedging of my bets. I could walk away if nothing was happening, and watch intently if a batsman suddenly went ballistic.

 

I ventured out on Saturday to witness the hullaballoo live for the first time. White, McCullum, Finch, Hodge and Swepson were all factors.

 

Inside Docklands, grown men are wearing buckets on their heads. I’m incredulous. The last time I had a bucket on my head, I was two years old. My sister had realised it was an easy way to terrorise me in the bathtub. But here? In public? Unfathomable.

 

Finch wins the toss and puts the Heat in. The teams are welcomed by giant cannons spitting out air. It’s like a scene out of Star Wars. The space age is here.

 

The PA tells me to make some noise for the Renegades. I ignore the advice. Nothing has happened (except for the cannons scaring me half to death), and what if nothing does? Do I need to be told to cheer if the game is uninspiring? Can I not sense the moments for myself, and exclaim accordingly?

 

Mohammad Nabi opens with spin. The outfield is slow. Cooper bowls the second over with his semi-nude nuts, and B.McCullum duly slog sweeps him through midwicket for four. I applaud the shot.

 

He tries to repeat the feat immediately, but misses a nude nut and loses his middle stump.

 

The zinger bails light up, leaving no doubt about what has just transpired. They’re the evening’s first winner.

 

The innings slowly develops into one of dots and singles to long-on. Big hitting is hard, despite the fact that pitch is laid on top of a concrete carpark. The game isn’t quite the expected spectacle just yet.

 

Wildermuth turns the game for the Renegades with two early wickets. Brad Hogg comes in to bowl, looking sprightly. I want whatever he’s putting in his morning coffee.

 

Labuschange and Ross move the Heat past fifty, nudging and nurdling. Meanwhile, the PA blasts music between balls, but with a lot of them barely leaving the ring, a few rifts (or bangs of techno) is all that can be squeezed in. It’s a crime to cut Mr.Brightside off halfway through the chorus. No one seems to share my disdain.

 

We’re introduced to Rubi, the Renegades’ Head of Human-Cyborg Relations. They’ve given this particular robot a very attractive female voice. I’m told I can ask her a question on Facebook. I jump at the chance. Sadly, she doesn’t know much about the buckethead phenomenon, and tells me to talk to a human.

 

Wildermuth, Finch’s trump card, returns to break a promising partnership, bowling Labuschange. Cutting joins Ross, and although they push the score past the 100-mark, the total will be a gettable one.

 

Hogg chimes in with a pair of wickets, and Bravo gets Ross and Lalor in consecutive balls.

 

The crowd attempts a Mexican Wave, which makes it from mid-on to square-leg before dying.

 

The Heat finish on 8/132, never quite managing to go long enough between wickets to really put the pressure back on Finch and his men.

 

Zorb balls entertain the crowd at the break. Finch strides out to open with Harris, and McCullum wanders around next to the wicket, gesturing here and gesturing there, the puppeteer pulling the strings.

 

Sadly, Brendan is about to realise that putting fielders in the right spots can’t guarantee they’ll be competent. A misfield from Heazlett allows a boundary at deep midwicket. The next over Ross gives away overthrows, and Cutting drops Harris at slip.

 

Robot cam makes its second appearance for the day. Nothing to do with Rubi, before you ask. The camera jumps from one old man to the next, each doing his own version of the robot dance.

 

Finch top edges Shadab Khan and is caught, bringing Cameron White to the wicket. Harris falls to the same bowler in the next over, leaving the Renegades teetering at 2-29.

 

Tom Cooper, a contributor with the ball, joins White. A no-ball is greeted by an air raid siren, like something out of a World War 2 film. White smashes the ensuing free hit through midwicket for four.

 

Sprinkler cam is the next feature of the off-field entertainment. You know, that dance England did when they won the Ashes out here in 2011? Anyway, it leaves a few people close to being accidentally clotheslined. I just hope Mum didn’t leave the washing out.

 

White is taking the game by the scruff of the neck. A 91-metre slog sweep off Swepson is perhaps the pick of the bunch. The shot has been the flavour of the day. It might be the flavour of the BBL. The blonde right-hander pulls it out the bag again to bring up his fifty, and the Renegades’ ton, with another long six.

 

His partnership with Cooper means only a flurry of wickets can save the Heat. They finally snag White in the 17th over, which brings Brad Hodge to the crease. He only needs to steady the ship and give Cooper the strike to see his side home, but has other ideas, striking a meaty six in the 19th over.

 

Cooper pulls over backward square two balls later to give the Renegades a seven-wicket win, bringing up his fifty in the process.

 

The Buckethead Army head for the exits as the steam cannons explode once more.

 

The Renegades, especially Wildermuth, bowled better, and the partnership between White and Cooper was precisely what the Heat’s innings lacked.

 

I’m left with the feeling that I’ve just witnessed a good, ordinary game of cricket. Rubi, the cannons, sprinkler cam, robot cam, the music between balls, and so on, feels like a contrived attempt to convince me the event was more than what it was.

 

By nature, not every sporting contest can be a classic. It’s okay to be good and ordinary. Most of us will still head along for something to do in the evening. I’ll just be doing it without a bucket on my head.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Jack Banister

Journalism student @ Melbourne Uni, Brunswick Hockey Club Men's Coach, tortured Tigers fan.

Comments

  1. Luke Reynolds says

    Jack, totally with you on the wearing of buckets on heads. Even got offered one on my way into the MCG yesterday.
    Lots of contrived noise at BBL games. But kids love it. At this stage I think the BBL is a better TV product than live experience.

  2. Yep – 100% Luke. I left feeling like I might’ve enjoyed it more from the couch.

    The contrived news is grand for some – not so much for me. I love BBL for what it does to bring kids in. The game is better for it. But the live experience is perhaps not my jam. I think I will try again, at the MCG, though.

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