The hero: Lewis Gregory only cleared quarantine on Christmas Day so might well have missed out on the gift-giving ritual, but the Englishman was happily dispensing presents to the Heat fans in the form of wickets and catches on his Big Bash debut. There were five of them in fact – three wickets, all of them telling (D'Arcy Short, Dawid Malan, Peter Handscomb) – and a pair of catches to round out a promising entry into the competition.
The support cast: Openers Sam Heazlett (48) and Max Bryant (31) performed an admirable Bash Brothers impersonation in blazing their way to 73 inside the opening six overs, knocking over almost half the runs required in the process. The bullish Bryant bats with a nonchalance bordering on disdain; whether playing and missing, or lofting the bowler back over his head for six, his reaction is one of general indifference. The left-handed Heazlett at one point hit leggie Wil Parker for three straight sixes amid a scintillating performance, the one-time Australia rep illustrating exactly why the Heat have persisted with his talents despite a number of below-par returns.
The local boy: Remarkably, debutant James Bazley was a Heat rookie in BBL|04 and the allrounder has had quite the journey from then to his BBL debut tonight. A product of Redlands – the same Premier Cricket club that Marnus Labuschagne calls home – Bazley came to the middle at 6-102, with the Heat still needing 47 from 49 balls. There he was met by the reassuring presence of his skipper, Jimmy Peirson, and when he hit his third ball straight for six, the nerves seemed to settle. When he smashed Meredith for another six – this time behind square – from the final ball of the 16th over, it snuffed out the final embers of hope for the Hurricanes, and he repeated the dose from Nathan Ellis to level the scores before the winning runs came moments later via Peirson.
The consolation effort: Riley Meredith is fast becoming a Big Bash star and his two wickets in the 12th over sent a shudder through the Heat camp that very nearly became a full-blown earthquake. The express right-armer knocked over Gregory for one and then was too quick for Jack Wildermuth, who mistimed a pull shot and was caught at short cover. By that point, the home side (on a run of three straight losses, remember) had lost 6-29 and the Gabba was becoming eerily silent.
The next stop: Rematch! These two sides square off again at the Gabba on December 30. Tickets are still available!