The match in a tweet: Hoff’s Harbour a frenzy as a Coffs capacity crowd watches the Sixers cruise home in the Big Bash return of Test star Josh Hazlewood
The Score: Adelaide Strikers 6-176 (Wells 40no; Pope 2-41) lost to the Sydney Sixers 3-180 (Philippe 83no; Avendano 47; Siddle 1-29) by seven wickets with three balls remaining.
The Hero: Josh Philippe proved once again why he is considered one of the next big things in Australian cricket.
The young wicketkeeper-batsman carried his bat in a brilliant match-winning performance. Alongside the glorious shots which made up the knock of 83no, he appeared to judge the tempo of the innings to perfection. Philippe allowed Justin Avendano to take the attention early, upped the ante in the middle overs, before finding another gear altogether in the final overs.
The 22-year-old hit five fours, four sixes and struck the ball at 159.6 in his second unbeaten half-century of BBL|09.
The Supporting Cast: The Sixers have trialled a number of opening combinations in recent times, with Justin Avendano becoming the third option this season to join Josh Philippe at the top of the order. The 26-year-old only joined his teammate in Coffs Harbour at late notice after captain Moises Henriques withdrew from the squad to be at the birth of his first child.
Avendano played with the poise of a veteran, and ultimately forced the Strikers to trial a number of bowlers in the early proceedings of the second innings. He belted Billy Stanlake, Michael Neser and Harry Conway to all parts of the Coffs International Stadium, before falling to the latter for a 33-ball 47.
The Consolation Act: Jonathan Wells did it again. The ever-reliable Striker once again proved how hard it is to get him out, cruising to 40 from 28 balls, his fourth unbeaten innings of KFC BBL|09.
The 31-year-old now has scores of 55no, 18no, 68no, 20, 26 and 40no this season and shows no signs of easing up anytime soon.
The Return: Playing his first Big Bash game in nearly six years, Josh Hazlewood was only made to wait until the third over to experience his first taste of the action.
Hazlewood took the ball at the Big Banana End and was cruelled by a Tom Curran misfield that saw his second ball going for four. His second over culminated in an lbw shout which, while drifting down leg-side, had Strikers opener Phil Salt in all sorts.
It was a precursor of what was to come. Hazlewood toppled Alex Carey’s leg stump with a 142.4km/h delivery in his third over. It was a crucial wicket for the Sixers, with the in-form Carey halted in his tracks as Hazlewood completed his overs with figures of 1-20.
In the other dugout, Michael Neser was the Strikers’ big-name returnee. After spending time with the Australian Test team, the Queenslander first made an impact with the bat as he produced a powerful innings of 25 from 15.
With ball in hand, Neser was less effective as he finished with figures of 0-48 (four overs) and dropped a catch in the second innings.
To be fair, he hadn’t played any competitive fixture since a Marsh Sheffield Shield match in early December, running drinks for the Test side since.
The Big Moment: If a batting mix-up can be labelled a comedy of errors, the final ball of the 14th over was an entire festival of laughs coming to Coffs Harbour.
Ben Dwarshuis and Tom Curran casually strolled in from their fielding stations on the boundary as Jonathan Wells pushed the final ball of Lloyd Pope’s over to square leg. Neither appeared keen to gather the ball, Matt Short took ambitiously off on a second run as both fielders realised their error and made amends.
Wells didn’t pick up the cue, Short was sent back, and left scrambling as Josh Philippe removed the bails and dismissed the Strikers’ number six for a dreaded diamond duck.
But social media lit up as replays showed Philippe may have lost control of the ball at a pivotal moment, although the ball hit the wickets with Short still short of his ground.
The Sledge: We know Harry Conway has the gift of the gab, and a match-up against his New South Wales teammates proved an opportunity to appetising to ignore.
The fiery quick dismissed the dangerous Justin Avendano in the ninth over, before trading playful barbs with Sixers’ stand-in captain Dan Hughes.
The haircut: Strikers opener Jake Weatherald arrived in Coffs Harbour almost unrecognisable, thanks to a new bleached blonde hairdo.
While admitting it may not go down well with the rural crowd, Weatherald was pretty happy with the touch-up, telling the Channel 7 commentary team “I’m super sexy now”.
Unfortunately, the real Slim Shady did not stand up. Weatherald hit two fours and a six to begin proceedings before holing out to third man on his ninth ball.
The Next Stop: In one of the quirks of the BBL|09 fixture, these sides will wait less than 72 hours to meet again. The Adelaide Oval will play host to the corresponding fixture on Wednesday afternoon.
Sydney Sixers XI: Josh Philippe (wk), Daniel Hughes (c), James Vince, Justin Avendano, Jordan Silk, Jack Edwards, Tom Curran, Ben Dwarshuis, Jackson Bird, Josh Hazlewood, Lloyd Pope
Adelaide Strikers XI: Jake Weatherald, Phil Salt, Matt Short, Alex Carey (c/wk), Jon Wells, Cameron White, Michael Neser, Rashid Khan, Peter Siddle, Harry Conway, Billy Stanlake