Strikers roll depleted Scorchers in BBL

·3-min read

The Adelaide Strikers have leapt back into the BBL top five after thumping the depleted Perth Scorchers by six wickets.

After restricting the Scorchers to an inadequate 9-127, the Strikers cruised home with 18 balls to spare at Adelaide Oval on Friday.

The ladder-leading Scorchers were rocked on the morning of the match when Cam Bancroft and Matt Kelly tested positive for COVID-19.

The absence of Bancroft, the Scorchers' first-choice gloveman since Josh Inglis joined Australia's Ashes Test squad, triggered an extraordinary wicketkeeping merry-go-round.

Englishman Laurie Evans, who had only once kept wicket in his career before last Tuesday's win over the Melbourne Stars, was named as keeper.

But Evans was unable to don the gloves after suffering a suspected broken toe when struck by a Harry Conway yorker while batting.

That forced Chris Sabburg into a makeshift 'keeping role for the first 10 overs of the Strikers' innings - his only prior keeping experience was as a junior in indoor cricket - before he was replaced by fifth-stringer Brayden Stepien.

Stepien received a phone call in the team hotel at the innings break to rush to the ground and take over.

"I had no idea who our wicketkeeper would be when we took the field," said Scorchers skipper Ashton Turner.

"We were clutching, but to be fair both of those guys did a pretty good job."

New Adelaide import Ian Cockbain (35no) impressed in his BBL debut and the Englishman fittingly struck the winning runs, while allrounder Matt Short continued his solid form as an opening batter (34) and opening bowler (1-15 off four overs).

Short and Henry Hunt (27) combined for a 52-run opening-wicket union to put the heat on the Scorchers who, aside from seamer Aaron Hardie (3-31), were unable to corral the home side.

"It was a bit of a whirlwind but once I was here and on the field it wasn't too bad," said Cockbain, who met his teammates for the first time on Wednesday after being plucked from Langwarrin Cricket Club.

"It's nice to contribute and play my part."

Earlier, some disciplined bowling from the Strikers elicited a mid-innings 6-27 batting collapse from the Scorchers.

Legspinner Fawad Ahmed (3-30) and captain Peter Siddle (2-20) spearheaded the Scorchers' freefall from 2-80 nearing the halfway stage - which secured the visitors the Bash Boost point - to a dire 8-107.

Evans top-scored with 39 before holing out and hobbling off the ground soon after his toe injury.

He combined with Turner (28) for a 48-run third-wicket stand but the skipper's exit kickstarted a flurry of wickets.

"It was disappointing but reflecting on our campaign so far, we've hardly had an off night so it was probably inevitable," said Turner, who was hopeful Inglis, Mitch Marsh and Jhye Richardson would be released from Australia's Test squad on Friday.

"We know we've played too much good cricket this campaign so far to be too bothered by today's performance."

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