'That was probably the match': New rule decisive in BBL opener
Much-discussed rule change immediately impactful in BBL|10, with the Hurricanes surging impressively during two pivotal overs in their batting innings
11 December 2020, 07:18 AM AEST
It took just one game for one of the KFC BBL's contentious rule changes to have a major effect, with the 'Power Surge' proving decisive in the outcome of the opening match of the new season on Thursday night.
Daniel Hughes joked that his defeated Sydney Sixers had earlier been able to bask in the glory of briefly being top of the ladder having won the 'Bash Boost' point, but it was the change to Power Play regulations that had the biggest bearing on their defeat to the Hobart Hurricanes.
The introduction of the Power Surge has seen the initial Power Play shortened from six to four overs at the start of an innings, with the batting side then able to choose when they want to use the other two (consecutive) overs when just two fielders outside the 30-yard circle are permitted.
The extra flexibility played perfectly into the Hurricanes' hands after they lost both openers for ducks inside the first seven balls of the game and had only scored 18 runs after their first four overs.
The hosts were able to regroup through the middle overs and when they took the Power Surge at the beginning of the 15th over after Tim David and Colin Ingram had gotten their eyes in, the pair promptly smashed 25 from the 12 balls the field was up.
While Ingram was also dismissed during that period, it kick-started David's innings, as the right-hander went on to blaze 58 from just 33 balls to lift Hobart to a match-winning 8-178.
"We were at a stage of the game where we had to take it on and (using the Power Surge at that point) came off for us," said David, who earnt player-of-the-match honours in his first game for Hobart since crossing from the Perth Scorchers. "We accelerated through from there.
"It's exciting and gives us middle-order batters a little advantage to take some momentum into the back-end of the innings."
The Sixers hit 18 runs off their own Power Surge, taken in the 12th and 13th overs, but immediately after they lost key man James Vince, who said the fielding restrictions had actually hindered their run chase.
"We thought if we could take it we could get the (required run) rate right down and get ahead in the game, but it actually had the opposite effect," Vince told Fox Cricket. "They bowled well and we couldn't really get them away, then we lost some momentum."
Sixers batter Jordan Silk revealed teams had been scoring as many as 50 runs off the two Power Surge overs during recent practice games between BBL teams.
One of the architects of the rule changes that have received a mixed response from players and pundits, Cricket Australia's BBL consultant Trent Woodhill, hinted the tweaks had worked as intended (for the Hurricanes at least) given the average BBL first-innings score when two wickets are lost inside the first four overs is only 147 and the highest score 176.
Ave 1st innings score last 2 years in non DLS/abandoned BBL games where exactly 2 wickets lost inside 1st 4 overs is 147. The highest score was 176. Losing at least 7 wickets in an innings the ave score reduces to 139.@HurricanesBBL total 178 Already Lots to discuss in #BBL10— Trent Woodhill (@TrentWoodhill) December 10, 2020
While a single game is too small a sample size to vindicate the changes, it undoubtedly added an extra tactical dimension of some interest to Thursday's match.
Silk said he's a fan of the new rules, adding the Hurricanes' use of the Power Surge had been crucial in the game's outcome.
"For the Hurricanes in particular they really gained momentum out of their batting innings from it after they had been in a bit of trouble early," Silk told reporters.
"We actually had two set batters (in the Sixers' batting innings) and we almost lost momentum through that period after the Power (Surge) and we weren't able to drag it back at all. They just seemed to hit every yorker and they just bowled really well from Power Surge onwards.
"It's an interesting concept. There's some different theories on how to bowl in it, who to bowl in it, but they were clearly the team that did the best with it.
"It's interesting when you're chasing the runs. You can see the run rate going up. During those middle overs you're like, 'Geez, it's going up to nine, 10 (runs per over required)' and normally you'd panic.
"But you go, 'No it's OK, we've got this Power Surge', so it's definitely a different dynamic watching it as a middle-order batter knowing there's going to be those two overs.
"In the practice games I've seen them go for 45 or 50. They (the Hurricanes) proved tonight how valuable it is … That was probably the match right there."