The struggling Sixers produced their most insipid batting display of the season as the Melbourne Renegades surged into third spot on the Big Bash table with an eight-wicket win.
On the same day he was named in ‘s ODI squad to face England this summer, Renegades captain Aaron Finch returned to his best scoring 51 from 38 balls to ensure his side chased down the Sixers’ 8-111 with 4.3 overs to spare.
Finch had only scored 12 runs in three matches so far this season, but rediscovered his touch blasting six boundaries and two sixes. It always looked likely to be his night after he took arguably the catch of the tournament early in the Sixers’ innings to dismiss the luckless Jason Roy – the Renegades captain leaping off the deck to knock the ball into the air with his left hand before finishing the job.
Roy’s dismissal was indicative of the Sixers’ misfortune at GMHBA Stadium in front of 23,586 fans in Geelong. The visitors managed just one maximum despite the short boundaries on offer, in the 20th over from stand-in captain Johan Botha who finished unbeaten on 32 as one of only two Sixers’ batsmen who scored better than a run a ball.
“We struggled a bit with the bat, we were up against a high quality team,” Botha said.
“Really good bowling unit, there’s a lot of experience in their bowling and they just didn’t let us get away.
“Finchy took a great catch at mid off early to one of our really good strikers. When you lose those guys, all of a sudden the power play is gone and you don’t have much on the board.”
It was a different story for the Renegades who scored freely after a slow start, with Finch ably assisted by the in-form Cameron White (49 not out).
The Sixers have now lost their first five matches of the year with an away trip to Hobart early next week to follow before the second Sydney Smash of the season.
Their season continues to lurch from bad to worse after news tweaker Stephen O’Keefe had surgery on Wednesday in Sydney to repair an ankle syndesmosis injury suffered in Monday’s loss against Perth. That will rule him out for the rest of the season.
Daniel Hughes has missed both games this week with a quadriceps strain while captain Moises Henriques is still unavailable indefinitely as he takes personal leave.
Nic Maddinson may also join the injury list after damaging his shoulder in a fielding drill between innings, but did manage to return to the field.
“We’d obviously like to win some games, you don’t want to go through a whole comp and not win anything,” Botha said.
“We’ve got a few days off which is probably not a bad thing to regroup, take two days away from it.
“Our aim now is to take a few points from a few teams that could be gunning for a top four spot. Other teams have tried to do it to us in the past, deny you points when they’re not in the comp any more.”
Mickey Edwards was the latest Sixer to be handed a debut, but it wasn’t one to remember in front of a boisterous crowd an hour out of Melbourne. He managed 0-31 off three overs.
The crowd endured an uninspiring showing from the Sixers with the bat before coming to life as Finch and White took charge, making light work of the straight forward run chase.
After losing the toss and being sent in, the Sixers produced their fourth lowest score in history and was never going to be enough to defend against an explosive Melbourne Renegades batting line up.
So sluggish was the early Sixers’ run rate they sat at just 2-20 after the powerplay and 3-40 at the halfway mark.
Were it not for some late innovation by Botha and Englishman Sam Billings, the visitors probably would not have cracked the hundred.
In fairness, the Renegades bowled very well, giving away just one extra through 20 overs and restricting the visitors to just eight boundaries.
Dwayne Bravo was the pick of the Renegades’ attack, finishing with 3-29 off his four overs.
But his most significant contribution came from short fine leg when he fielded sharply and hurled a venomous throw to the non-striker’s end, hitting the stumps with Maddinson short of his crease.
Maddinson didn’t dive to make his ground, clearly unaware of the danger being posed by the West Indian from 30m away.