The match in a tweet: Pocket-rocket Harper and bowler-of-rockets Shinwari fire Gades into top four to continue Heat's middling season #BBL08
The score: Brisbane Heat 8-144 (McCullum 50; Shinwari 3-16, Boyce 2-17) defeated by Melbourne Renegades (Harper 56 not out, Cooper 36 not out) by eight wickets with 26 balls to spare.
The hero: One of the under-the-radar finds of this season's Big Bash, Sam Harper put together his most important knock in elite cricket to push the Melbourne Renegades into the top four on the ladder. A decade apart in age, Harper and stand-in skipper Tom Cooper combined for the most meaningful partnership of the match to swing the game the Renegades' way. Both rode their luck at times after coming together with the side 2-39 in the fifth over, but the pair safely navigated the visitors to run down the tricky, if not imposing, Brisbane Heat total of 144. Shortly after bringing up his maiden fifty and a 100-run third-wicket partnership with a towering six over long leg, Harper hit the winning runs to seal the eight-wicket win. It continues a breakout BBL|08 for the 22-year-old, who's now managed scores of 26, 28, 0, 30, 1 and 56 not out – solid returns for someone who likely would not have gotten his chance if not for the absences of Aaron Finch and Marcus Harris.
The supporting cast: Should two wickets count as four when you get both Bash Brothers? Not many bowlers manage to remove both Chris Lynn and Brendon McCullum in the same game, but Cameron Boyce walked away with the duo in his back pocket and conceded just 17 runs to boot. Both were caught on the fence but, on both occasions, the wrist-spinner had deceived the batters in flight. The scalp of McCullum came at a crucial juncture, right when the veteran looked set to launch the Heat to a large total. But his exit sparked a late-innings of 6-29, from which the hosts never recovered. Special mention too to Usman Shinwari, the slippery Pakistani who troubled the Heat for pace at times and collected 3-16 from his four overs.
The consolation effort: After finding his feet against the Thunder two days ago, McCullum followed up with his second half-century in as many matches. It was far from his most fluent knock; the former New Zealand skipper got an early life and even when he found the fence, it was more down to crafty batsmanship than outright power. His scoop for six (more on that below) was something to behold but his departure left the Heat in a lurch.
The blood: Poor Ben Cutting – as if a dropped catch wasn't bad enough, the big allrounder had a busted face to go with it. Standing under a skied high ball from Marcus Harris, Cutting had the ball burst through his hands and into his face. He somehow nearly managed to catch it despite the blow, before bizarrely attempting to throw the ball up – perhaps to fellow fielder Mujeeb ur Rahman, who was close by.
The drops: Cutting's was the first of four dropped catches from the Heat – a costly series of misses that gifted opportunities to Marcus Harris (twice), Sam Harper and Tom Cooper.
The stat: Here's one that might get a good run in the Toombul Cricket Club dressing room next time Chris Lynn and Cameron Boyce turn out for their Queensland Premier Cricket team. Boyce dismissed Lynn for the fourth time in BBL history when the leg-spinner had his Brisbane clubmate caught at long off, the equal-best hold any bowler has over a batter in the competition.
The shot I: Wow. Just wow … There are a few variations of the ramp shot, but Brendon McCullum's scoop-over-the-left-shoulder-and-somehow-over-the-off-side must take the cake. This could take some beating for the shot of BBL|08!
The shot II: In one stroke, 19-year-old Max Bryant showed why he's been tipped for great things. The timing, the power, the stillness at the crease – this check-driven on-drive off speedster Shinwari is simply delightful.
The next stop: The Renegades are now into a finals position while the Heat remain equal bottom of the BBL|08 standings. The two teams don't have to wait long to face off against one another again; the Gades host the Heat in Geelong on Sunday.