Ruddlerless Renegades strike out in batting stakes again
Aaron Finch cant come back soon enough for the Melbourne Renegades.
Without their captain, the Renegades have implemented a venerable revolving door policy of openers as they search for the right batting order.
Finch was dropped from Australias side for the fourth and final Test against India, but the local hero wasnt cleared by Cricket Australia to play for the Renegades against the Adelaide Strikers in Geelong on Thursday night.
With captain Finch and his surviving Test opening partner Marcus Harris still unavailable, the Renegades turned to their fifth opening batsman, and fifth different pairing, in as many games.
The constant changes at the top of the order arent having the desired effect. For the third game in a row the batting flopped, as the Renegades fell well short of chasing the Strikers total of 6-158.
The Renegades finished 9-126 from their 20 overs, and have now lost three on the trot. They have just about reached the point of putting out a "welcome home saviour" sign for Finch's return in next Monday nights game against the Hobart Hurricanes at Marvel Stadium.
However the skipper's stay will be short-lived, with Finch set to play just one game for the Renegades before heading back to Sydney to captain Australias one-day side in a three-match series against India. He should at least be replaced by Harris for the duration of the ODI window.
Despite an impressive 52-run opening stand from youngsters Sam Harper and Mackenzie Harvey two nights earlier against the Melbourne Stars, the Renegades bumped Harper from the opening slot on Thursday night, promoting out-of-form veteran Cameron White to partner teenager Harvey.
It didnt work. Both Harvey, and Harper – who came in at No. 3 – were removed for just one, while White was bogged down before being trapped for 17 from 22 balls by Rashid Khan.
Captain Tom Coopers struggles continued too. He went for 13 after opening the bowling and then made just 16 from 12 balls, spooning a catch to short extra cover off the bowling of young Strikers spinner Liam OConnor.
Cooper also allowed his side to concede a no-ball and free hit after losing track of the number of fielders outside the circle, unaware that paceman Usman Shinwari was being treated for a bruised shin sustained after he felt the brunt of an Alex Carey straight drive.
Meanwhile the control of Adelaide tweakers Rashid and OConnor left former Australian selector Mark Waugh exasperated.
“Pretty embarrassing watching the standard of batting against spin in the BBL this season. #dreadful,” Waugh tweeted.
By the time Beau Webster and Jack Wildermuth joined forces at the fall of the sixth wicket, the match was long gone, with the reigning champions posting their third win from five starts.
Carey and Billy Stanlake narrowly avoided calamity after they collided while eyeing a skied ball from Harper. Carey took the catch, and both Strikers players dusted themselves off unscathed, perhaps spared by their significant height differential.
Earlier Jake Weatherald smacked 71 from 44 balls with six fours and three sixes as the Strikers built a winning platform after being sent in by Cooper.
Weatherald and Matt Short were both run out after tight third umpire calls, with neither deemed to have fully grounded their bat while diving in.
Not that it mattered.
Even despite an impressive spell of 2-16 from four overs by Renegades leg-spinner Cameron Boyce, the Strikers posted a winning total, helped by some late-hitting by the brilliant Rashid, who finished unbeaten on 21 from seven balls.
Daniel is an Age sports reporter.