Hobart Hurricanes captain George Bailey says a desire to maintain a left and right-handed batting combination was part of the reason behind Matthew Wade’s demotion down the batting order for Sunday’s KFC BBL final.
Wade had hammered 71 from 45 deliveries in the Hurricanes' semi-final victory over the Scorchers, opening in tandem with Australian Test and ODI keeper Tim Paine in the absence of T20I squad member D'Arcy Short.
But with Short available for the final at Adelaide Oval and re-instated at the top of the order, it was the right-handed Paine who accompanied the hard-hitting left-hander to the middle as Hobart started their chase of Adelaide's 2-202.
While Paine has batted down the order for Australia this summer, he has been used as an opener in recent BBL campaigns and was Hobart's second-highest run-scorer in that position last season.
With the western boundary measuring just 57.5m, the Hurricanes reasoned that having one left-hander and one right-hander at the crease at all times would ensure that at least one of their batsmen could target the short boundary on the leg-side in every over.
And with Short's innings of 68 lasting until the 17th over, it meant a string of right-handers - Bailey, Ben McDermott and Dan Christian - were promoted ahead of the left-handed Wade to maintain that balance.
Wade eventually strode to the crease at No.6 after Short's dismissal and was run out without facing a ball as the Hurricanes pursued quick runs in the hopes of pulling off a miracle. The 30-year-old was visibly frustrated after his dismissal, hitting his bat against his seat in the dugout as Hobart's hopes of victory drifted away.
Bailey said the decision to push Wade down the order was made partly with the western boundary in mind, which was 10 metres shorter than the rope on the other side of the ground.
"(It was) just a little bit about left-right (handers), there’s a short boundary here," Bailey explained after the Strikers completed a 25-run victory.
"Painey’s record at the top for us has been successful and we just thought about left-right.
"So if D'Arcy had been the first out, Wadey would have gone in and had that impact he has had in the last couple games in the first six.
"But D'Arcy batted well which meant we could try and use Wade at the back end to try and target the short boundary. But the damage was done by that stage."
Wade batted everywhere from No.3 to No.6 during the first eight matches of BBL|07, before replacing Alex Doolan at the top of the order for the January 20 clash against the Scorchers at the WACA Ground.
He opened with Short twice, posting scores of 31 and 17, and was joined by Paine for the semi-final when Short departed on Australian T20 duties.
On Sunday, a century from Strikers opener Jake Weatherald and a stunning display with the ball from Peter Siddle, who captured career-best T20 figures of 3-17, clinched the club’s maiden BBL crown.
Bailey noted it was the ability of Siddle and Adelaide's other bowlers to force Hobart to hit straight to the longest parts of the ground, rather than the short square boundaries, was crucial to the end result.
It was an achievement the Hurricanes' attack hadn’t been able to manage during the Strikers innings, with Weatherald able to capitalise on deliveries that allowed him to target the east and west boundaries.
"I’ve just said throughout the tournament that I'm going to stick to my strengths and thankfully they bowled to them today," Weatherald said post-match.
"Throughout the tournament I haven’t been overly successful, but today thankfully they bowled where I wanted it, and I managed to hit it to the boundary occasionally."
Bailey said while he was disappointed with the loss, the club’s first finals appearance since BBL|03 had taught him a lot about his squad.
"I am a little bit disappointed, the one thing is we were complete outplayed," Bailey said. "If it was one or two runs, we’d be really gutted, but we were outplayed by some distance.
"Our best cricket meant we should be qualify for finals a little easier than we did, but we learnt a lot about our squad and certainly some of the individuals within it.
"We found out our best cricket is good enough, but just not today. Full credit to Adelaide, they batted extremely well."