LIVE: The Brisbane Heat are hosting the Sydney Sixers at the Gabba in the second match of the New Year’s Day BBL double header.
The Heat smashed their highest-ever total in the Big Bash and the fifth-highest BBL total of all time, posting 5-224 thanks to a pair of maiden half-centuries from Joshua Brown (62) and Nathan McSweeney (84).
After a wild first over saw Heat opener Colin Munro fall, the hosts rebounded in style with second-gamer Brown smashing a monster half-century off 19 balls.
Brown, a 29-year-old batmaker, smashed four fours and six sixes in an unbelievable show of power hitting, racking up 62 runs in just 23 balls.
It led legend Adam Gilchrist to label Brown his “new favourite player”.
23-year-old Nathan McSweeney, the other player introduced to the Heat’s XI alongside Brown, brought up a first half-century of his own off 37 balls before finishing with 84 off 51.
It was a stunning effort from the last placed Heat (1-4), who have struggled woefully this season. Meanwhile the Sixers (4-2) dominated the Renegades in their last start and are on a four-game win streak.
Fox Cricket’s Sarah Jones labelled it an “extraordinary” and “insanely good” innings.
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With an enormous target set of 225, the Sixers got off to a mighty start, with James Vince quickly reaching 19 as he led the side to 27 off two overs, and then 40 off three.
The Heat made changes to try and stem the bleeding but with the required run rate dropping under 11, and the Sixers 0-54 off four overs, suddenly an unthinkable chase-down was on the cards.
Michael Neser got the crucial breakthrough, having Josh Philippe (27) caught behind after he nicked an attempted huge slog that bounced higher than he was expecting.
The Heat won the toss and opted to bat, before delivering one of the craziest first overs in Big Bash history.
Opener Colin Munro top-edged the opening ball from Ben Dwarshuis to fine leg, which fell short of Sean Abbott – who misfielded the ball and allowed it to go for four.
Munro then skyed another ball into the deep, which Abbott initially appeared to catch. Munro believed the fielder had taken the grab and was ready to walk off the field, only to realise Abbott had dropped it – and was almost run-out as he scrambled back to his crease.
Then Munro was caught at the third time of asking by Jordan Silk, with the wild first over finishing 1-12.
Kirby Short joked on Fox Cricket: “I’m still recovering from that first over. That was absolutely outrageous, all sorts!”
But it didn’t take long for the Heat to rebound, thanks to a stunning explosion from second-gamer Joshua Brown.
29-year-old Brown smashed 16 runs off the fourth over, including a pair of sixes. The first one came off the top of the bat, with Brown telling his batting partner Nathan McSweeney: “I didn’t get that”.
If he didn’t quite catch that clearly, he soon found his range, smashing a host of boundaries around the park.
Brown reached 28* off 11 by the time the power play was done, with the Heat 1-47 off the first four overs.
Mark Howard laughed on Fox Cricket: “He is what we like to call a bums-on-seats-operator!”
And Gilchrist agreed: “Don’t look away!”
From no-name to Aussie legend’s ‘favourite player’: Second-gamer lights up BBL … with bat he made
Brown – who makes his own bats – had played the first game of the season before being dropped.
In the fifth over, Brown smashed yet another six, this time into the top section of the stands.
“Just found a new favourite player,” Gilchrist declared. “I love him!”
He brought up his 50 off just 19 balls – with three fours and five sixes. “I’m a bit stunned here,” Gilchrist said. “Get your hard hats out (in the stands).”
Brown finished with 62 off 23 – a strike rate of 269.67 – after being caught in the deep by Dwarshuis off Abbott’s bowling.
It was “an innings we’ll remember for a long, long time,” Mark Howard said.
Gilchrist said: “What a statement. What a way to announce yourself. That was fabulous batting.”
His departure left the Heat at 2-85, with Sam Billings and McSweeney taking the score to 2-111 by the halfway mark of their innings. They would build a 62 run partnership from just 44 balls.
Billings then fell for 28 off 21 in the 14th over. Dan Christian – in his 400th T20 game – bowling the batter with a slower ball in his first over to leave the Heat 3-147.
But 23-year-old McSweeney continued his patient and clinical knock, bringing up his own maiden half-century off 37 balls with a fine six.
He took the power surge and hit three-straight fours off Dwarshuis to move to an unbeaten 70 runs, finishing the 20-run over with a big six down the ground.
In the 18th over, captain Jimmy Peirson was dropped on eight runs by a desperately diving Jordan Silk. Peirson and McSweeney made it 32 runs off the power surge, before Peirson fell in the 19th over for 19 off 13, caught in the deep by Dan Christian off Hayden Kerr’s bowling.
Kerr’s over was a brilliant one, conceding just five singles to go with the wicket. Abbott was equally impressive in the final over, conceding five runs in the opening three balls before McSweeney was unfortunately run out.
McSweeney finished with 84 off 51 as the Heat best their previous-best total of 212 by 12 runs.
It was a torrid innings for the bowlers, with Jackson Bird walloped for 47 runs off his four wicket-less overs. Dwarshuis finished with 1-55 off his four. Abbot had 1-46, while Naveed went for 0-38.
The Heat made two changes, bringing in opener Josh Brown and fellow batter Nathan McSweeney.
For the Sixers, opener Kurtis Patterson dropped out with James Vince promoted to top spot. Daniel Hughes joined the battling line-up at first drop. English quick Chris Jordan was left out due to fitness management, with Sean Abbott returning to the line-up for his 100th BBL game after being controversially left out of their last match.
“It’s probably out of his control but I hate resting,” Fox Cricket’s Brett Lee said last time out.
“I think when a bowler’s doing well and on top of their game, they should get to keep playing – they are only bowling four overs.”
Heat: Josh Brown, Colin Munro, Nathan McSweeney, Sam Billings, Jimmy Peirson (c, wk), Ross Whiteley, Michael Neser, James Bazley, Mark Steketee, Matt Kuhnemann, Mitch Swepson
Sixers: Josh Philippe (wk), James Vince, Daniel Hughes, Moises Henriques (c), Jordan Silk, Dan Christian, Hayden Kerr, Sean Abbott, Ben Dwarshuis, Jackson Bird, Izharulhaq Naveed