Sydney Sixers 6 for 188 (Vince 95, Tye 2-29, Richardson 2-45) beat Perth Scorchers 9 for 161 (Livingstone 45, Dwarshuis 3-37) by 27 runs
Finally on home soil after the Covid-19 summer kept them at neutral venues for all 15 of their previous games, the Sydney Sixers rode on the back of another James Vince special to become the second Big Bash League club to claim back-to-back titles. Fittingly, at a joyous SCG, they defeated the Perth Scorchers, the only previous club to claim two crowns in a row, to get there.
Vince’s contribution was elegant as ever and summed up why the Sixers had the measure of the Scorchers in both of their finals meetings. This is not to say things could not have been different. Perhaps overly influenced by showers that passed through Sydney comfortably before the 7.40pm start time, the Scorchers had decided to bowl first upon winning the bat flip and then did not use the full allocation of the wristspinner Fawad Ahmed, comfortably their best bowler on the night.
Those mis-steps aided the Sixers in compiling a total that, while not match-sealing, was going to be unreachable if the hosts put in a solid shift with the ball and in the field. Blessed with plenty of experience to bowl the right spells at the right times, the Sixers were never seriously challenged after the exit of Liam Livingstone.
The seasoned trio of Jackson Bird, Steve O’Keefe and Dan Christian all put in excellent displays with the ball. Christian has now been part of nine domestic T20 title-winning combinations; the coach Greg Shipperd was at the helm for his sixth Australian T20 tournament win spanning both state and club-based eras. Old blokes do indeed win stuff.
Vince turns platform into launchpad
Back against the Scorchers after his decisive 98 in Canberra which vaulted the Sixers into the final, Vince carried on almost as though he was continuing the same innings. Commanding through the off side as ever, but also feasting on short stuff from Jhye Richardson, Vince was almost totally at ease, even if the Sixers’ early progress was pockmarked by a horrid mix-up to end in the run-out of Josh Philippe after he and Vince ended up at the same end.
One of Vince’s sixes, an inside-out lofted drive well over the cover boundary on the long side of the ground, was almost worth the price of a ticket alone, and the rest of the Sixers order contributed a series of complementary cameos around him. Denied a century by a possible accidental wide from Andrew Tye at Manuka Oval, Vince began to look a little ragged as he neared the milestone for a second time in as many innings, being dropped twice. He fell when slicing Ahmed to gully, a dismissal that hinted at how the wristspinner might have been better used.
Fawad Ahmed: 3-0-16-1
On an SCG pitch that had to offer some assistance for spin, the Scorchers’ captain Ashton Turner appeared to get his sums wrong. How he managed not to find room for Ahmed to bowl his full four overs, conceding just 16 from three and also claiming the wicket of Vince, while bowling Livingstone’s occasionals for two that cost 21, stretched credulity. Certainly the exit of Daniel Hughes opened up a vast array of right-handers for Ahmed, and they proved far more adept at attacking pace.
Richardson’s late-tournament fade continued with his most expensive analysis, while Aaron Hardie was also notably expensive. The final over of the innings had Carlos Brathwaite coming to the middle for his first ball and finding himself able to cosh a pull shot and then a straight drive after a typically effective contribution from Christian ended with a tight call on a full toss that may or may not have been worthy of a no-ball call. The Sixers walked off satisfied with what they had to defend.
Sixers correct early errors in line
The sight of Cameron Bancroft walking out to open the batting must often cause intriguing thoughts for opponents, who respect his dogged attitude but can question his shot-making ability. Bancroft tried to clear the boundary in Bird’s opening over but saw the ball mistimed and plugged short of the rope, but he was to be rather more successful in subsequent overs as the Sixers bowlers drifted too short and straight, allowing him to ping the leg-side boundary numerous times.
At length, the hosts made the requisite corrections, and Bird had Bancroft skewing a pull-shot attempt to mid-on. After having scored 36 from three overs, the Scorchers managed only 22 from the next four and lost the vital wicket of Colin Munro. Josh Inglis was promoted, and for a time he and Livingstone appeared to be rebuilding for a well-positioned dash at the target, doing just enough to keep the required rate around 10 per over.
A successful squeeze to the title
Bird returned for the 11th over of the innings with the game very much open. His subtle variations in length and line were successful in slowing the Scorchers, however, and made a pivotal contribution when Livingstone was pouched on the midwicket boundary. What followed were a pair of outstanding overs from the wily O’Keefe, who went from figures of 0 for 17 from two overs to a critical 0 for 26 from four: four dots and seven singles in those final 12 balls put an extreme squeeze on the Scorchers.
Suddenly the required rate was pushing 13, and wickets followed inevitably even as the Scorchers took the Power Surge. Mitchell Marsh was wonderfully caught off Ben Dwarshuis – who picked up three overall – by Vince moving as smoothly in the field as he had done at the crease, and Inglis’ muted final innings of a successful campaign was ended with a miscue to mid-off. Christian delivered a typically canny follow-up over, and though Brathwaite conceded 16 from the 17th over, the Sixers always appeared to have enough in reserve.
Having had to make homes away from home this summer, they celebrated as though the SCG decider was a long-awaited Saturday night house warming.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig