A fired-up Sean Abbott spray backfired on the Sydney Sixers in Thursday night's BBL semi-final against the Brisbane Heat - and it hasn't gone unnoticed. The Heat pulled off a stunning comeback off the bat of fast bowler Michael Neser to book their place in Saturday night's final against the Perth Scorchers.
Abbott could perhaps have been forgiven for trying to fire the Sixers up after they struggled with the bat, setting the Heat the achievable target of 117 to win. The Heat looked relatively comfortable early in their innings, before Sam Heazlett had a moment of madness.
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Sixers fielder Jordan Silk made an uncharacteristic error, prompting Heazlett to attempt a second run on the play - and an ill-advised one at that. He ended up being caught well short of his crease, and Abbott made sure to let him know about it.
“Sean Abbott lets him know. Little bit of a ‘(hot) water tap on the right!’" was Adam Gilchrist's call from the Fox Sports commentary box, and there looks to have been more to the story. Colleague Mark Waugh pointed out that Abbott had actually been fired up against Heazlett during the previous over.
“Sean Abbott was giving some advice to his fielders the previous over, saying ‘run this so-and-so out’. So they’re fired up, the Sixers," Waugh added. In the space of 21 balls, the Heat also lost Brown (20) and Nathan McSweeney (five), both caught behind by Philippe.
Losing more scalps was the only thing that could thwart the Heat when a run a ball was all that was required and Max Bryant, another of the reinforcements, forged a game-high 30-run partnership with Neser. Just as they were beginning to pull ahead with the largest partnership of the night, Bryant (11) sent the ball skyward in the power surge and was caught.
I believe you're out of the comp good sirs !
— Brian McKerr (@brianmckerr) February 2, 2023
This is so poor from @seanabbott77
How’d that turn out for you mate? There is no need to berate an opposition player who is laying on the ground - go and celebrate with your teammate Silk instead.
— Kiel Henry (@kiel_henry) February 2, 2023
— Tony Two-Up (@tunez4hoons) February 2, 2023
I expect Sean Abbott will be receiving a hefty fine for that send off. Not to mention he didn't contribute to the dismissal at all #BBL12
— Jacob Grams (@JGrams23) February 2, 2023
Sydney Sixers and especially Sean Abbott deserve this humbling #BBL12
— King Toby Returns (@dlesk18) February 2, 2023
But Neser was undeterred and his 16 runs from four balls brought the equation squarely into the Heat's favour. When he slogged the ball past long on, he had the biggest score of his BBL career.
The Sixers' play-offs campaign came to an end in straight sets after they lost their qualifying final against the Scorchers last week.
"(Neser) played a pretty smart innings, which you have to give him credit for," Henriques said. "We had two cracks at making the final and unfortunately weren't good enough to take either of them. I'm still very, very proud of what we were able to achieve as a team throughout the season."
Michael Neser guides Heat to BBL final on tricky SCG deck
Neser was the only batter who looked remotely comfortable on an SCG deck that has come under fire for much of the season. Melbourne Renegades captain Nic Maddinson referred to the slow, bowler-friendly Sydney wicket as "pretty s**t" after his team lost to the Sixers in December.
“I thought it was one of the worst T20 wickets I’ve seen for a while, and it’s been a little bit like that all competition where we’ve had some pretty tricky wickets," Maddinson said at the time. Many would have perhaps expected Henriques to offer a similar sentiment after watching his team struggle with the bat on Thursday night.
Speaking after his side's BBL finals campaign came to an end, the Sixers skipper instead defended the much-maligned pitch. Henriques argued that it was good for the game to have pitches of all different types, offering contrasting challenges for both batter and bowler, rather than simply producing wickets that are a batter's dream.
“It’s really good to play on these types of wickets. The best way to get well-rounded cricketers is to be challenged in different conditions,” Henriques said after the match. “You see at Adelaide Oval and some other grounds like at the Gabba that it’s an absolute bowler’s graveyard, so it’s nice to tip the scales into the bowlers’ favour for a change and see which batters can use their brains to figure out a tough situation.
“These wickets are maybe not too dissimilar to what you might face in India or something like that with how low and slow it was, and possibly taking a little more spin. When you get these unique conditions, it sometimes makes for really fun cricket to play because it’s so different to what we’re used to."
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