Josh Philippe teamed up with his mentor, Steve Smith, to steer the Sydney Sixers to their second Big Bash League title with a rain-affected 19-run victory over the Melbourne Stars at the SCG.
Wet weather stripped 12 overs from the final but did not wash out the match entirely, as had been expected. Philippe’s polished 52 lifted Sydney to 5-116 from 12 overs, a tricky target that quickly became monumentally challenging for the Stars.
Melbourne lost their two best batsmen in the opening three overs as they crashed to 3-18. Marcus Stoinis picked out Sean Abbott in the deep after a bright start to the first over, delivered by Nathan Lyon, while Steve O’Keefe trapped Glenn Maxwell lbw.
Maxwell’s dismissal proved fatal for the Stars, who were always fighting a losing battle despite Nick Larkin’s 38 not out. The visitors finished on 6-97, continuing their record of excelling in the regular season and folding in finals.
“It’s elation; all sorts of emotion,” O’Keefe said afterwards. “This is right up there with anything I’ve done in cricket.” The Stars are now 3-9 in postseason BBL games, and their wait for a first title goes on despite reaching the semi-finals in all but one season.
Earlier, the crowd of 10,121 were treated to a special knock from Philippe which featured four fours and three sixes. The young gun, who sat in the Waca stands aged 14 when Steve Smith skippered the Sixers to their first title, outperformed all comers in a pressure-laden innings which oozed composure.
“[Josh] is definitely someone who has been talked about at different times, just because of the raw talent,” national Twenty20 captain Aaron Finch said on Fox Cricket. “You can see him being a long-term player for Australia down the track.”
Philippe, who only decided to leave Perth and join the Sixers after receiving a call from Smith in 2018, shared a 34-run stand with his mentor. Smith produced arguably the shot of the night, heaving a full delivery from Haris Rauf over the leg-side rope and into the crowd, before holing out to Peter Handscomb in the deep off Maxwell.
Smith’s dismissal ignited a mini-collapse, with Daniel Hughes and Moises Henriques out for seven runs between them, before Philippe regained momentum and brought up his half-century in the final over with a six. Adam Zampa finally dismissed Philippe with the last ball of the innings, but the damage had been done.