Blazing Boyce sums up Renegades’ season
Spinner’s match-winning cameo with the bat secures finals spot for Renegades, who have used 19 different players this season
Louis Cameron at Marvel Stadium
31 January 2019, 09:54 AM AEST
In many ways, Cameron Boyce's scrappy, punchy and seemingly out-of-nowhere half-century on Wednesday night summed up the Melbourne Renegades season so far.
Floundering at 7-90 with their last recognised batter in the sheds, the Renegades looked like they'd blown a golden a chance to secure a top-four berth and put a dent in the finals hopes of their opponents, Sydney Thunder.
But Boyce, with a career T20 batting average of just 9.57, single-handedly rescued the hosts by blazing five sixes and helping to take 39 from the last two overs of their innings.
The leg-spinner smashed a boundary from the final ball of the innings to bring up the equal-quickest half-century of this season's KFC BBL, off just 22 balls, but he didn't even realise he'd reached the milestone, so focused was he on his dominant skill.
"'Richo' (batting partner Kane Richardson) was running beside me yelling at me to raise (the bat) but I didn't actually realise I was fifty," said Boyce.
"I didn't actually look at the score until we were halfway off (the ground).
"I try and have a very strict routine before I bowl so I was just trying to get off and then get back on to bowl."
The Boyce-inspired victory saw the Renegades become the second team to secure a finals spot this season, but the route they've taken to the final four has been far bumpier than that of the ladder-leading Hobart Hurricanes.
While Hurricanes openers D'Arcy Short and Matthew Wade sit in the top two spots on the leading run-scoring charts, only one Renegades batter (Sam Harper, 279 runs at 23) features in the top 20.
Tellingly, not a single Renegades batsman has averaged more than 30 this season.
The Hurricanes fielded an unchanged line-up for their first six games and have hardly tinkered with the make-up of their top-order, while the Renegades have fielded 19 different players and constantly changed their batting order.
True to their name, the Renegades haven’t been afraid to do things a little differently.
They even sent Boyce in as a pinch-hitting opener the last time they played the Thunder. And while the ploy didn’t come off – he made a two-ball duck - a similar experiment with specialist spin bowler Sunil Narine was so successful in BBL|06 that his Indian Premier League side, Kolkata Knight Riders, followed suit.
Boyce was actually listed on their team sheet to again open the batting again on Wednesday, but he says was never really on the cards.
"I think all teams have different things they try," Boyce said.
"That (opening against the Thunder) was just something that Finchy messaged me the night before and said, ‘get your head around the thought of doing it’.
"Fair to say I didn't sleep very well that night. I was pretty nervous. I got out second ball going hard. Some days it comes off, some days it doesn't."
Key to the 'Gades success, despite the batting chaos, has been their bowling.
Seamer Kane Richardson leads the competition with 22 wickets, but perhaps more importantly, every Renegades bowler (minimum 10 overs) has gone at less than eight runs per over.
The recruitments of speedster Usman Shinwari, who took eight wickets at 21 and only went at 6.14 per over before departing to play for Pakistan, and then English death-bowling specialist Harry Gurney, who has only gone at 6.72 despite bowling predominantly at the death, have been two of the more underrated overseas signings this summer.
And with captain Aaron Finch back from national duties to captain the side, Boyce, who played in the Hurricanes' final defeat to Perth Scorchers in BBL03 before being overlooked for Hobart's finals run last summer, believes the Renegades are hitting their straps at the perfect time.
"I reckon all year we've just been trying to find our groove as a batting unit," said Boyce.
"And our bowling has always been pretty good on an up-and-down wicket (at Marvel Stadium).
"If we hit the right form now going into the finals, we can give it a nudge.
"I know we've been inconsistent, but if you look through our line up and the experience that we have … players have come up for us in the big moments. We've done well on the road.
"I'm sick of playing in the finals and losing them or missing out."