Hobart Hurricanes hero Ben McDermott has praised the man whose omission from the line-up opened the door for one of the greatest Twenty20 batting performances ever seen in last night’s KFC Big Bash League epic at Etihad Stadium.
Cricket legend and Hurricanes international Kumar Sangakkara was notably left out of the XI to take on the Sydney Thunder last Sunday following a poor start to the season that yielded just 68 runs in five innings – a decision described by Hobart coach Damien Wright as “comfortably the hardest thing I’ve had to do.”
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McDermott’s match-winning knock of 114 off just 52 balls was simply breath-taking and left the Melbourne Renegades without answers as he relentlessly unleashed hit after hit to the tune of eight fours and nine sixes, keeping his side’s season alive heading into the finals.
However, the 22-year-old – who made his BBL debut with the Brisbane Heat back in January 2014 – believes Sangakkara’s attitude had helped relieve some of the pressure that comes with taking the place of a cricket icon.
“He’s been unbelievable,” McDermott told bigbash.com.au after the instant BBL classic. “He’s been so good both before and after I took his place in the side.
“I certainly felt a lot of expectation.
“I was originally going to bat at No.6 actually and then I got moved up the order to No.3 and then felt a little bit more pressure then because I was going in for Kumar’s spot.”
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With the weight seemingly lifting off his shoulders with each brutal blow over the rope, McDermott kept the Hurricanes on track to reel in the home side’s record-setting total of 4-222.
Such was the confidence in which he clobbered a majority of his boundaries, you’d be forgiven for thinking that McDermott’s heroic innings was the result of a memorable moment of inspiration behind closed doors before embarking on the daunting chase.
But that wasn’t the case, as McDermott humorously admitted later in the evening.
“If I’m brutally honest, no I didn’t,” McDermott said when asked if he gave his side any chance of winning during the main break in play.
“But (Wright) was really good about it, he just said ‘go out and have some fun’ and it was very fun in the end!
“I’ve never felt like that. That was just adrenaline pumping and you don’t really know what’s going, you just try to see ball, hit ball and keep it as simple as possible.
“I’m just really glad we won the game and it wasn’t for nothing.”
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Despite basking in the glory of hitting the winnings run off the final ball, Stuart Broad made special mention of the knock that set up an unforgettable victory.
“Benny McDermott’s hundred was a thing of beauty wasn’t it?” the England quick told cricket.com.au after the thrilling finish.
“The way he struck the ball – the cleanliness and fearlessness he played with was brilliant.
“The people who have come to watch and support either side, they’re going to go home happy either way because it was wonderful entertainment and that’s what the BBL is about.”