Craig Simmons crunched a sensational century to ensure the Perth Scorchers will host the KFC Big Bash League Big Final for the third straight season after beating Sydney Sixers by five runs in a rain-reduced game at the SCG.
The Scorchers were only two minutes away from the cruelest of eliminations, with rain intervening during the innings break and remaining well into the second innings, with play set to be called off, with the Sixers progressing by virtue of ladder position.
However, the rain relented at 10.34pm local time two minutes ahead of the 10.36pm cut-off, allowing five overs, with the Sixers chasing 54 according to the Duckworth-Lewis method.
Perth got home with Nathan Coulter-Nile holding his nerve to deny the big-hitting Nic Maddison (36 off 16), as Sydney, needing 17 off the final over, fell short.
The Scorchers will now entertain Hobart Hurricanes in the decider at #TheFurnace on Friday.
Perth will be aiming to make it third time lucky having lost the previous two Big Finals on home turf.
Simmons laid the foundation for glory, with a stunning 112 off 58 balls, which included a staggering 11 sixes. The Rockingham-Mandurah batsman started slowly, managing only 6 off his first 16 balls, before he got going in the final 10 overs, which saw the Scorchers plunder 126 runs.
Simmons’ 11 maximums all came within 38 deliveries as he led the onslaught, with good support from Adam Voges (31) who combined for a 93-run stand off 48 balls.
Opener Simon Katich got the visitors off to a positive start with 26 off 21 balls, including 19 off the fourth over from Mitchell Starc. However, the Scorchers appeared to be headed for a regulation total, before Simmons’ explosive hitting lifted them to 5-193, before he was run out in the final over.
The rain delay ensured a tense finale, but the Scorchers held their nerve, with Jason Behrendorff claiming two vital second over wickets, in the dangerous Michael Lumb and Ravi Bopara, to have Sydney in trouble at 2-13 after two overs.
It could have been even better for the Scorchers, with Maddinson dropped by 12th man Hilton Cartwright and that seemed likely to haunt Perth with the young opener helping crunch 17 runs off Brad Hogg’s third over. However, three wickets fell in Pat Cummins’ over, the fourth, to give the Scorchers the initiative and Coulter-Nile held his nerve, with Perth triumphing by five runs.
As the editor of Cricket Badger he is intent on building the website to give quality coverage of the domestic game around the world.
James was the full-time Media Manager at Yorkshire County Cricket Club between 2007 and 2010.
James is a published author and a writer/video contributor to many cricket publications.
He's unsurprisingly a complete cricket badger!