SYDNEY – West Indies opener Chris Gayle made a top-score of 28 and looked like he was returning to form but in the end his Sydney Thunder lost again to give the Brisbane Heat an important five-wicket victory at the ANZ Stadium today.
Dan Christian starred for the Heat, taking five wickets as the home side was bowled out for just 126 before the runs were chased down with 20 balls remaining.
But much of the talk post-match surrounded the dismissal of Brisbane skipper James Hopes, which sparked a loss of 4-31 and threatened to turn the match before Chris Lynn smashed an unbeaten 51 off 38 balls to guide the visitors to just their second win of the season.
England’s Matt Prior, normally a wicketkeeper, was in unfamiliar territory at wide first slip when he claimed a catch off Dirk Nannes (2-31), though replays suggested Hopes was unlucky as the ball appeared to hit the grass before it reached Prior.
The jovial 30-year-old admitted he cringed when replays flashed up on the big screen but insisted he’d spoken to the umpires and that it was most certainly a fair catch.
“I looked up and thought ‘ooh, crikey, it doesn’t look good’,” Prior said. “But I do think the cameras can sometimes make it look a little bit dodgy.
“I genuinely felt I caught it. I felt my finger underneath the ball and that’s the thing you can’t pick up on camera. I spoke to the umpire immediately and he agreed it looked absolutely fine to him. That’s good enough for me.”
Hopes queried the validity of the catch on the field before accepting Prior’s word and trudging off while replays were shown on the big screen.
“He told me he caught it out there,” Hopes said.”… I’ve been playing this game a long time where replays can be deceiving, the best judge is normally the player, and if he says he caught it, that’s good enough for me … He’s probably got his right hand under it.”
The loss keeps the hapless Thunder, who slumped to their 10th defeat on the trot dating back to last season’s horror show, rooted to the bottom of the ladder.
Even the free-hitting Gayle, despite top-scoring, failed to reach any great heights scoring his runs at a run a ball, a relatively pedestrian rate for the man proclaimed as the best Twenty20 batsman in the world. He put on 35 with Prior (18) before both were dismissed in Christian’s first over – a massive turning point in the game.
Christian’s figures of 5-26 are the best by a Heat bowler and the second-best from anyone this summer, trailing only Melbourne Stars’ Lasith Malinga’s exceptional 6-7 against Perth. Heat and West Indies fast bowler Kemar Roach finished with 0-26 from his four overs.††