Big Bash moves pay off for Ross, Dunk

Alex Ross returned to haunt the Strikers on Wednesday, while Ben Dunk managed a drastic turnaround in form to top-score for the Strikers

Off-season moves look to have paid immediate dividends for both Ben Dunk and Alex Ross, if their form in their maiden outings with their new KFC Big Bash League clubs are anything to go by.

The pair starred in their first games with their new teammates, Ross crashing a 36-ball 64 to propel the Heat to what was ultimately a match-winning tally, while Dunk turned around a poor start to the summer when he slammed 85 off just 43 balls, an effort that ended up being in vain as the Strikers failed to make the most of a good start.

A Queenslander by birth who plays state cricket for Tasmania, Dunk made his international debut at the Adelaide Oval in a T20 International against South Africa in 2014 off the back of his 395-run BBL|03 campaign, which saw him crowned as the player of the tournament.

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But the left-hander hasn’t received another call-up since playing all three matches of his debut series against the Proteas.

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Having passed 50 just once this Shield season in a lean beginning to his summer, he admitted the return to the comforting surrounds of Adelaide Oval was timely, as was the opportunity to take the gloves for the Strikers.

"I’ve got great memories of keeping at the Adelaide Oval," he said. "I made my debut for Australia here and I probably haven’t really kept since to be honest.

"I’m having a pretty ordinary year in (Sheffield) Shield cricket and one-day cricket so coming over here has been a bit of a clean slate to get started again.

"The coaching staff have been brilliant, keeping things realty simple for me, and their messages have unlocked (something) I haven’t been able to find, so hopefully it’s a bit of a springboard for me.

"To get the opportunity from ‘Dizzy’ (coach Jason Gillespie) to get the gloves and open the batting was something I didn’t expect and to repay that faith in the first game was really nice."

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Dunk looked unburdened by his poor start to the Shield summer on Wednesday as he and Jake Weatherald (52) got the Strikers off to a flyer.

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The hosts looked well on track to rein in the Heat’s 5-206 but after their opening combination departed within successive overs in the midst of their chase, the Strikers were thwarted by some clutch bowling from the Heat.

"When you’re chasing 200, everything needs to go right," Dunk said. "I thought Weatherald batted beautifully and between us, we gave ourselves a chance.

"But full credit to the Heat who produced some really good death bowling."

Ross returns to haunt Strikers

Ross too made an off-season switch, though his move was away from Adelaide after two seasons in the Strikers’ blue as he looked for greater opportunity in the shortest format.

Best known for his sweeping prowess, the right-hander slotted straight into the top-four for his new side alongside new skipper Brendon McCullum and BBL|05 player of the tournament Chris Lynn.

Heat openers McCullum and Jimmy Pierson got their team off a blistering start to subdue the home crowd, but Ross found himself striding to the crease under difficult circumstances when crowd-favourite Kieron Pollard removed the pair in successive balls.

There were a few audible boos from the parochial South Australians – loud enough for Ross to hear at least – as he found himself facing Pollard’s hat-trick ball.

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He survived with a well-judged leave and proceeded to dismantle the hosts’ attack and keeping Brisbane’s total rattling along, his trademark sweeps and reverse-sweeps put to good use.

"There were a few cheeky words, there were a few more lippy players than I actually thought," Ross said with a smile.

"They might have got a bit of confidence off the boos from the crowd.

"But it’s all in good fun and that’s professional sport.

"(The Heat) haven’t started that well in the last few tournaments so to go to 1-0 is massive. If we can play like that all season then we’ll be a tough team to beat."

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