Strikers map out the perfect plan | Adelaide Strikers - BBL
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Strikers map out the perfect plan

05 February 2018

Praise for heroes Jake Weatherald and Peter Siddle after performance in BBL final

Scrawled in black felt pen upon a white board in the Adelaide Strikers dressing room, just alongside the starting XI and the day's three-pronged mantra – Fearless, not reckless; Composure; ENJOY!! – was a rudimentary sketch of the Adelaide Oval playing arena.

It was that mud map, which revealed the dimensions of the north-south and east-west boundaries for the franchise’s most important game, the final of the seventh iteration of the KFC Big Bash League, that went along to explaining the Strikers' clinical demolition of the Hobart Hurricanes.

Their 20-over total of 2-202, the most they’ve managed across seven summers of the BBL, was built around a stunning 115 from 70 balls by opener Jake Weatherald, whose unashamed strength is the shorter boundaries square of the wicket.

And their ability to defend that total in the face of another onslaught from Hurricanes' opener and Player of the Tournament D’Arcy Short (68 from 44 balls) was largely due to bowling smarts of veteran seamer Peter Siddle, who returned the best figures (3-17) of his 12-year T20 career.

Peter Siddle's sparkling spell

With Hurricanes skipper George Bailey nominating the ability of Siddle, and Adelaide's other key bowlers including recalled leg-spinner Liam O’Connor, to force the Hobart batters into hitting to the longest parts of the Adelaide arena as being crucial to the end result.

Not only did Bailey fall direct victim to that strategy when his bold innings of 46 (from 33 balls) ended upon holing out to deep mid-on from Siddle’s bowling, the Hurricanes other trump cards Tim Paine (5) and Ben McDermott (9) perished when trying to manufacture strokes square of the wicket.

A failure that was exacerbated by the number of times the Hurricanes' bowlers had fed Weatherald's strengths and watched the ball fly to, or over the boundary rope to the east (67 metres from the centre wicket) or west (57-and-a-half metres) boundary ropes.

"I’ve just said throughout the tournament that I'm going to stick to my strengths and thankfully they bowled to them today," Weatherald said post-match.

"Throughout the tournament I haven’t been overly successful, but today thankfully they bowled where I wanted it, and I managed to hit it to the boundary occasionally."

Jake Weatherald Hundred Highlights

The rejuvenation of Siddle as a T20 bowler having been absent from the format for years due to injury problems and a perception that he was too one-dimensional for its frantic need for perpetual reinvention was as much a feature of Adelaide's inaugural trophy win as their flawless batting.

"He’s developed a way that he’s going to play and had a phenomenal tournament, and his bowling was so good today," Bailey said of his former Test teammate.

"I know Weathers scored an amazing hundred, but Sidds is right up there for man of the match as well.

"Facing him, I reckon he's simplified his game, he doesn't bowl many balls where he's not trying to make you hit to the longest part of the ground.

"He puts his fielders where he's going to try and make you hit the ball.

"He’s got a couple of changes of pace, but keeps it simple and makes you hit the ball where he wants you to hit the ball."

Siddle, whose most recent BBL appearance prior to signing with Adelaide where he played all but one match was for Melbourne Renegades in January 2015, attributed his renaissance as a T20 bowler to the same secret that underpinned his 211-wicket Test career.

A relentless work ethic crowned by a fierce desire to win.

"I worked really hard throughout, at every training and all along throughout the series to keep bettering my game," Siddle said in the wake of the Strikers 25-run triumph that was effectively sealed when he had Short caught behind from his final delivery of the evening.

"I was disappointed with Friday night (when he finished with 0-22 in the semi-final win over the Renegades), I only bowled the two overs so I needed to make sure it counted tonight.

"My best figures in the tournament and in T20 – it’s a nice occasion to do it."

And while it was Adelaide's ability to defend their total that ultimately saw them home, the fact that they posted a record score for the franchise in their most significant match can be largely attributed to Weatherald and his 140-run second-wicket partnership with skipper Travis Head (44no from 29 balls).

For a batter who subsequently revealed he had endured a poor night's sleep on match eve due to nerves and that he "didn’t feel that great" walking out to open the innings on a hot Adelaide afternoon, Weatherald hit his straps quickly and the boundary often.

The first player to post a century in the final of the BBL competition also admitted it had taken him quite some time to come to grips with the 20-over game having developed firstly as a long form opener who later this week returns to open for South Australia in the JLT Sheffield Shield.

"To be honest, I’ve found T20 cricket the hardest of all formats," Weatherald said in the aftermath of his match-defining innings, which was his fourth score of 50-plus from his past five BBL matches.

"You obviously don’t have as much time, but I didn’t really play too much T20 cricket before I played Big Bash so it’s a massive learning curve.

"The first 14 games I found it really quite hard to play, but it’s such a good support staff around – (former international players now Strikers coaches) Greg Blewett, 'Dizzy' (Jason) Gillespie, and Jamie Siddons my Shield coach has been amazing.

"They’ve got around me and said, 'just bat the way you normally bat and you’ll make runs in T20 cricket'.

"My game’s evolved and hopefully I can perform in all formats.

"It’s slowly starting to come together."

The fact that every other player to have won the individual award in the final of a BBL season – Moises Henriques, Nathan Hauritz, Brad Hogg, Shaun Marsh, Usman Khawaja and Jhye Richardson – have represented Australia might help him sleep better at night.