The Sydney Thunder won their first KFC Big Bash League title last summer but have started their title defence in the worst possible fashion, slipping to 0-3 to be rooted to the bottom of the BBL|06 ladder.
But it’s not time to write off the defending champions just yet.
While no team has made the BBL finals after starting the competition with three successive losses, the Brisbane Heat lost three of their first four matches in 2012-13 and went on to win the title from fourth place.
The Heat, under then-coach Darren Lehmann, charged through the back-end of BBL|02, winning five of their last six games including three elimination matches.
Needing to beat the Hobart Hurricanes in the final group stage clash to advance to the finals, the Heat comfortably chased down 151 due in large to Luke Pomersbach’s 82 from 42 balls.
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Pomersbach backed up his heroics in the semi-final against the table-topping Melbourne Renegades, scoring a brilliant unbeaten 112 from 70 balls to stun the favourites and advance to the final, where they defeated the Scorchers in Perth to complete the fairy tale story.
While four wins has been the minimum to qualify for the finals in four of the five tournaments, the Hurricanes crept into fourth place with three victories and a no result in 2013-14.
After their opening fixture of BBL|03 against the Adelaide Strikers was washed out, Hobart lost their next two matches before needing a win against the team that knocked them out the previous season, Brisbane, in their final group stage match to advance.
Ben Dunk’s 87 from 53 balls propelled the ‘Cane Train’ to 7-209 batting first, and despite a quick-fire 60 from Pomersbach, the Hurricanes moved on to face the undefeated Melbourne Stars at the MCG.
In one of the biggest upsets in tournament history, Hobart chased down 142 with 11 balls to spare to beat the Stars in the semi-final, with Cameron Boyce’s 3-11 earning him man-of-the-match honours.
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However, the Hurricanes could not emulate Heat’s Cinderella story from BBL|02, losing to the Perth Scorchers in the final three days later.
Having lost the first two finals on their home turf, the Scorchers would not be denied for a third time, defeating Hobart by 39 runs at The Furnace.
In the first season of the Rebel Women’s Big Bash League, the Sydney Sixers lost their first six matches before bouncing back to win eight games on the trot and then beat the Hurricanes in the semi-final to face cross-town rivals the Thunder in the final at the MCG.
The Sixers’ dream run fell short at the final hurdle, beaten by the league-leading Thunder in a thriller to cap off an incredible inaugural season of the WBBL.
And if those comeback stories don’t inspire Shane Watson’s men, a look at the monumental upsets in the sporting world in 2016, from Leicester City to the Western Bulldogs, from the Cronulla Sharks to the Chicago Cubs, those stunning triumphs should be enough to instil the self-belief that the Thunder can still win the competition this summer.
Allrounder Chris Green, who starred for the Thunder on Wednesday night, said the reigning champions were not far away from registering a maiden win in BBL|06.
“We’ve just got to carry on trusting our instincts,” Green told cricket.com.au.
“(Wednesday’s) game was our best game of the three so far and the nature of the game one player can in the game and that was Chris Lynn tonight.
“I don’t think we’re far off, we’re not playing bad cricket.
“Our bowling has been phenomenal in all three games, particularly tonight.
“To go in with only five bowling options was a serious effort to take it down to the last over with some class batters.
“A few more runs on the board would be handy and we’ve got to tidy up our fielding.”