Worrall’s wonder spell repays the faith

Swing bowler produces another match-winning performance in a semi-final for Melbourne Stars

Louis Cameron at Blundstone Arena

15 February 2019, 08:19 AM AEST

So highly-rated by the Melbourne Stars is Daniel Worrall that they handed him the keys to their bowling attack without a second thought for Thursday’s KFC BBL semi-final against the rampant Hobart Hurricanes.

Cast as the sole specialist fast bowler as skilful former Test quick Jackson Bird was dropped at his home ground on an overcast Hobart evening, Worrall justified the faith with a match-winning performance as the Stars recorded a major upset.

The Hurricanes, this season’s standout side, had their procession to Sunday's final derailed by Worrall's career-best blitz, with the hosts’ early slump to 2-5 proving fatal.

Only three times (out of 23 games) in BBL history had a side ever recovered from a worse position to win, and the exits of star openers Matthew Wade and D'Arcy Short - both in the Power Play – all but sealed their fate.

Worrall removed Wade with his very first delivery, before following it up with one of the best balls of the tournament that nipped away and took Caleb Jewell's off bail.

Worrall's beauty gives Stars dream start

The right-arm swing king has a stated goal to make Australia's Ashes squad later this year, but his performance in the Stars' most important game of BBL08 (until Sunday's decider) was a reminder that he's not just a red-ball specialist.

He had also delivered a clutch semi-final bowling effort when the Stars last made the BBL final, picking up three wickets to sink the Scorchers in BBL|05 before an Usman Khawaja-led Sydney Thunder went on to topple the Stars in the decider.

Worrall admits there'd been plenty of discussion in the lead-in to the game over how the Stars were going to stop Wade and Short, who have 1229 runs between them this season.

"To start the semi-final, there was a lot of talk during the week what to do in that first over," he said.

Worrall's four leads Stars to victory

"But at the end of the day sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. We’re just lucky that today it did."

The unfailingly modest Worrall revealed a switch from over to around the wicket that proved Jewell's undoing had been a ploy to get inside the batter's head.

"As a swing bowler, you've got to do your best to almost force a shot from the batsman," he said.

"There wasn't too much thought about it, I just thought I'd change it up and just make them think something else is going to happen when just the same thing is going to happen anyway.

"Twenty20 can be a bit like that, where you've just got to be almost chaotic."

Making the Hurricanes batters hit towards the longer parts of the ground was a key focus for Worrall when he returned at the back-end of the Hobart innings.

His skill at inducing the wicket of George Bailey, who had revived the Hurricanes' innings with a crafty knock of 37, was a testament to his death-bowling skills. After five balls of perfectly-executed wide yorkers from Worrall, starving Bailey and big-hitter Ben McDermott of being able to swing the ball over to the shorter square boundary, Bailey holed out to long-on.

The South Australian then had Simon Milenko lbw with a slower ball in his final over, finishing with his best-ever T20 figures of 4-23 and the best recorded against the Hurricanes all summer.

Worrall said he has taken heart from how other quicks around the league have developed as death bowlers, taking cues from the likes of Peter Siddle and Kane Richardson.

"It (death-bowling) is something you're continually working on whether it's for one-day cricket or whether it's for T20 cricket,” said Worrall.

"We've seen guys like Ben Laughlin or Kane Richardson this year just adding something to their game each year.

"Personally for me, just watching blokes like 'Richo' and Peter Siddle continually getting better – I think if you're not getting better as a professional you're going to be left behind."

The Stars will anticipate the winner of Friday's semi-final between cross-town rivals Melbourne Renegades and Sydney Sixers to find out who they'll play in the decider, with whoever wins that clash to host Sunday's final.

Worrall said he'd love to face off against the Stars’ cross-town rivals, but added: "Whoever it is, it'll be an exciting contest and we'll be doing our best to get our first bit of silverware”.