The Perth Scorchers have been crowned BBL champions for the fifth time after an incredible final-over victory in Saturday night's final. The Brisbane Heat appeared poised to pull off one of the biggest upsets in tournament history after making 7-175 and reducing the Scorchers to 3-54 in the eighth over.
But Ashton Turner's knock of 53 off 32 balls helped turn the tide in the Scorchers' favour, with the captain joining Josh Inglis (26 off 22 balls) in a crucial 80-run partnership. Turner was then run out in disastrous fashion, leaving the Scorchers in danger of a stunning loss.
PLEASE EXPLAIN: Alex Carey hits back after criticism from Michael Clarke
But 19-year-old Cooper Connolly and Nick Hobson got the Scorchers over the line in the final over after they needed 39 runs off the final 19 balls. Connolly made 25 not out off just 11 balls and came up clutch with a number of massive sixes.
The Scorchers still needed 10 off the final Michael Neser over, with Hobson blasting a huge six before following it up with a four to secure a famous victory. It sparked wild scenes as Scorchers players streamed onto the field and celebrated in front of 53,866 fans at Optus Stadium - the biggest crowd for a cricket game in Western Australia ever.
Hobson finished not out on 18 off just seven balls. He later admitted he had felt "awful" for the runout that saw Turner depart.
"Ash is an amazing leader," Hobson said. "When we were sitting there waiting for the decision (about which batsmen would be out), he said, 'mate you're a gun, you'll get us over the line'. There was no resentment."
Cricket world in frenzy over Cooper Connolly heroics
Teenager Connolly had only faced 11 balls in his previous three matches this tournament. However he showed nerves of steel when the final was on the line, smashing 18 runs off the 18th over - bowled by James Bazley.
The day before the final, West Australian great Adam Gilchrist had sent him a text message to wish him luck. "I just said all the best, you've done everything you can. Just go out and enjoy it," Gilchrist told Fox Sports.
"He messaged back and said I can't wait to go out and soak it all up. He's got a lifetime memory there."
Speaking after the final, Cooper said couldn't believe it when he received the text message. "Last night, I was in shock," he said.
"I was like, 'how has he got my number?' That gave me an extra boost of confidence."
Connolly became an instant cult hero after the Scorchers' triumph. Large sections of the Optus Stadium crowd were chanting his name during the title-winning celebrations.
"Not many 19-year-olds get to play in front of 50,000 so I'm just here to soak it all in and enjoy the moment," he said. "I'm so grateful for the crowd because they helped us get over the line."
When asked if he thought he would ever have to buy a beer again in Perth, he smiled: "Hopefully not in the next couple of days. Maybe eventually, but the next couple of days I don't want to."
Who needs the internationals with cricket like this? #BBL
— QUENTIN HULL (@QuentinHull) February 4, 2023
— bet365 AUS (@bet365_aus) February 4, 2023
— Universal9168 (@Universal9168) February 4, 2023
He’s 19 but already has the best lid in cricket. Cooper Connolly, hero of the Big Bash final - scored 25no off 11 balls for the Scorchers as they beat the Brisbane Heat in front of 53,000 fans in Perth 🏏🔥 #bbl @ScorchersBBL pic.twitter.com/7Hei4tqRsD
— James McOnie (@JamesMcOnie) February 4, 2023
— Paddy Sweeney (@SweeneyPaddy9) February 4, 2023
— Andrew Harley (@AndrewHarley9) February 4, 2023
— Stevo (@S7even00K) February 4, 2023
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.