Big Bash: English import moves from suburban Melbourne cricket to matchwinner in Adelaide
A veteran spin star bowling with a broken rib and an English batsman plucked from suburban cricket in Melbourne in a “whirlwind week” took down the all-conquering Perth Scorchers to rattle a few Big Bash cages on Friday.
The strange nature of the BBL season continued when the Scorchers were forced to call up a keeper from the player replacement pool who wasn’t even at Adelaide Oval when the game started after a mid-match injury.
Brayden Stepien was having a coffee when Scorchers gloveman Laurie Evans hurt his toe while batting, and after Chris Sabburg kept for the first 10 overs of the Strikers’ innings, the Victorian top-up player took over for the final 10.
The bizarre course of events didn’t stop Fawad Ahmed stepping up after the departure of spin star Rashid Khan. Playing with a fractured rib, Ahmed snared three wickets as the home team dismantled the powerful Perth batting line-up.
Ahmed, who didn’t have a Big Bash contract when the season began before finding his way to Adelaide, revealed it “wasn’t ideal” to play with the injury but fought through the pain in a man-of-the-match performance to limit the ladder leaders to 9-127.
Then it was new batter Ian Cockbain, plucked from Victorian side Langwarrin earlier this week, who helped steer the Strikers home with an unbeaten 35 from 24 balls as Adelaide reached the target with 18 balls remaining.
Cockbain, 34 was contacted last weekend by the Strikers after a recommendation by fast bowler Daniel Worrall, with the pair connected through English county team Gloucester.
He only joined the Strikers on Wednesday and having played 57 first class matches, and 136 T20s, in a long professional career didn’t look out of place thrust into the top-order.
“I‘ve played quite a lot of cricket over the years so it wasn’t too hard to wrap my head around things,” Cockbain said.
“It was a bit of a whirlwind week but once I was here and got out onto the field it wasn’t too bad.
“Over the years I’ve always thrown my hat in the ring to play in the BBL and to finally get the phone call … it was a really nice phone call to receive.
“I‘ve batted at No.3 most of my career, I’m used to it, but getting out here in the Big Bash and playing at Adelaide Oval was very exciting.”
Ahmed, 39, earlier returned figures of 3-30 from his four overs, his best return of the season, and with Peter Siddle (2-20 from four overs) helped restrict the visitors to their lowest total of the season.
The Strikers, despite racing to 0-38 from the first four overs, was unable to secure a ninth Bash Boost point, but their fourth win of the season puts them right in the hunt for a finals berth.
Up next, the Strikers host the Melbourne Stars at Adelaide Oval on Saturday, while the Scorchers will tune up for the finals with a clash against the Brisbane Heat at Marvel Stadium on Monday.
Originally published as Big Bash: English import moves from suburban Melbourne cricket to matchwinner in Adelaide
Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.
Sign up for our emails