Having a Lark: Nick finds his niche with Stars
Unwanted by the Sydney Sixers, their former academy captain now threatens to be a major threat for the Melbourne Stars in the BBL|09 Final
7 February 2020, 10:08 AM AEST
Unwanted by the Sydney Sixers, Nick Larkin is the Melbourne Stars batting revelation threatening to come back to haunt his former side in Saturday's KFC BBL final.
Stars fans expected proven guns Marcus Stoinis, Glenn Maxwell and Peter Handscomb to end a worrying four-game losing streak and, while Stoinis delivered, it was Larkin who proved the hero as they knocked off BBL09 late-bloomers Sydney Thunder at the MCG on Thursday.
Stoinis was brilliant in smashing 83 off 54 balls to continue an outstanding BBL09 campaign, but the game was not beyond doubt when the player of the tournament exited with three overs remaining in the Stars innings with the score on 2-155.
But Larkin ensured 39 runs came off the final 19 balls – Glenn Maxwell was remarkably overshadowed, only needing to contribute four of those runs – to finish unbeaten on 83 off 49 and see the Stars finish 2-194, a tally the Thunder fell 28 runs short of.
Now, the Taree-born 29-year-old who made his T20 debut for the Sixers and remains a regular for NSW's Sheffield Shield side shapes as a potential key for the decider.
"The Sixers have a really good roster and my skill-set was probably pretty well covered up there," said Larkin, who put on 117 for the second wicket with Stoinis. "It was simply opportunity.
"An opportunity popped up last year (with the Stars) through injury, and they liked what I did last year and luckily brought me back this season.
"It was a sliding doors moment, I guess. With cricket sometimes, those things work out in your favour and you make the best of the situation."
Larkin, a former Sixers academy captain, played just the one game for the club in BBL05 before earning an opportunity last season with the Stars as an injury replacement for, as fate would have it, another NSW native in Nic Maddinson.
Asked if he had been frustrated to be overlooked by the Sixers, Larkin said: "At the time, sure.
"But I'm here now and we're heading to the final to play them. it's a funny world we live in.
"There were times where I would have loved to have played for them, but now I'm loving my time with the Melbourne Stars and I couldn't be happier being here with this team."
Larkin has also had to fight off the perception he is better suited to red-ball cricket, having ground out a successful first-class career as opener with the Blues, scoring two of his three hundreds last summer.
Ex-Test quick Trent Copeland tweeted on Thursday evening that his NSW teammate had been "pigeon-holed" as a red-ball specialist.
Larkin, who has an Irish passport and played two one-day games for their national side in 2014, said unlocking his self-belief had been key to developing his power game.
"I've always considered that I've got a bit more of a (T20) game than other people think," he said.
"It's just getting the opportunity to show it, and when you do get the opportunity to show it, actually showing it.
"I don't think I'm just a red-ball player. But as a professional player you've got to go out and prove it.
"I've had moments where I believed I couldn't go out and done that. I've had some really great coaches and mentors who have assisted me with that and made me realise what I'm capable of."
Sydney weather, which is forecast to dump up to 90mm of rain on the SCG on Saturday, threatens to be the main talking point of the Stars-Sixers clash.
Larkin concedes the Sixers have won the right to lift the trophy if no play is possible (they defeated the Stars in last week’s Qualifier final at the MCG) but said the visitors would be prepared to play a shortened game.
"Sure it would be disappointing but they've earnt the right to be the side that is hosting the final and we can't control the weather," said Larkin.
"Whatever the length of the game we're going to give it a crack. If (rain) intervenes, what more could we have done than beat them down here? We had that opportunity and didn't take it."