It’s official. Cricket’s craziest ever season just got even weirder.
Fortunate to make the playoffs, the Brisbane Heat have suddenly been gifted an unexpected late season bonus after stunning the Sydney Thunder by seven wickets on Sunday.
Sam Heazlett was the unexpected hero for the Heat, blasting a career-best 74 not out after his better known teammates all came and went, but that wasn’t the biggest surprise.
The Heat now find themselves preparing to play the Perth Scorchers on Thursday for a spot in next weekend’s Big Bash grand final at a neutral venue in Canberra.
That match was meant to take place on the other side of the country at Perth’s Optus Stadium after the Scorchers finished higher on the ladder but was suddenly transferred to Manuka Oval after the Western Australia state government announced an immediate five-day lockdown.
Still licking their wounds after being thumped by the Sixers in Canberra on Saturday, the Scorchers’ players were hours away from jetting back home when they were given more bad news and told to remain in the nation’s capital because that’s where their next match is.
“We’re hitting our straps at the right time. The last few years we have really left it late, having to win one or two of the last two games,” Heazlett said.
“We got here and have a lot of confidence in our ability. From the first final, we backed ourselves to go all the way and thought if we get there, we will get to the final, we will win it.”
Seventh on the table with two rounds of the regular season to go, the Heat just keep proving the doubters wrong as they racked up their fourth win on the trot.
They only snuck into the finals after winning their final two games, but are now just one win away from making the grand final, and there’s an omen they hope will play out again.
The last time they finished fourth was in 2012-13, when they went on another fairytale run to capture their one and only title to date.
Needing more than 11 runs an over when Marnus Labuschagne departed for 32 at the end of the 12th over, the Heat needed a miracle and they got it from Heazlett and Jimmy Peirson.
Heazlett had scored just one half century in his entire BBL career but found the perfect time to double his tally, smashing six boundaries and three sixes to guide his side to victory with five balls to spare after sharing an unbroken partnership of 92 with Peirson (43 not out) from just 43 deliveries.
“I started off a bit scratchy but it was great to get a team over the line. I haven‘t had many not outs…it was awesome to get the chocolates,” Heazlett said.
“We lost a couple of early wickets so I didn‘t want to throw away my wicket.
“I guess you‘ve got to keep backing your skills and not worry about that too much.
Thankfully I was able to get through a few balls where I played and missed. Started seeing better. That was handy.
OUT OF LUCK
The Thunder only had themselves to blame for their loss.
The men in green had the rub of the green early on, starting with Usman Khawaja getting a second life before he was even off the mark when he was struck plumb in front and given the benefit of the doubt.
Following the howler that cost Mitch Marsh his wicket against the Sixers, it’s now just a case of when not if DRS is introduced to BBL.
Khawaja had another let off when he was dropped by Labuschagne before his good fortune ran out and he was stumped for 28.
The Thunder benefited from another two dropped catches in the outfield to finish with 8-158 after they had slumped to 6-110 with just four overs to go.
Former Brisbane Heat all-rounder Ben Cutting who did most of the damage at the end, clubbing four sizes to finish unbeaten on 34 from 18 deliveries, but the Thunder’s bowlers failed to make enough inroads with the ball.