“Close your eyes and swing as hard as you can.”
So said the Big Bash league’s latest big-hitter when asked about his extraordinary first innings in Australia’s T20 league tonight.
To realise how humble that statement is, here’s some stats:80 off 52 balls with five fours and eight sixes, at a strike rate of 171.
That’s what Englishman Alex Hales did for the Melbourne Renegades against the Sydney Sixers Wednesday night at the SCG, fresh off a plane trip after being drafted in as a last-minute replacement for the injured Marlon Samuels.
And it all came after he played and missed at most of the first overs he faced from speedster Brett Lee and Sachithra Senanayake, looking immobile, outclassed, and thoroughly jet-lagged.
Soon after, Josh Hazlewood made the mistake of pitching short to the strongly-built, 196cm tall Nottinghamshire prodigy, and he began launching the ball over the fence. He took 22 off that over, and 26 off a Steven O’Keefe over later on, including four sixes and two blows that landed on the venerable SCG roof, having travelled over 110 metres.
The Renegades, top of the ladder and already qualified for a home semi-final, were also missing captain and the tournament’s best batsman, Aaron Finch, but they didn’t spare the 24-year-old phenomenon, making him open the batting literally fresh off the plane. (Modest Hales said he got a good sleep on the flight).
He left O’Keefe, a well-performed left-arm spinner, with figures of three overs, no maiden, no wicket for fifty.
In a BBL season dominated by bowlers, the first innings average at the SCG ahd been 148. When Hales was dismissed, holing out to English teammate Michael Lumb off Moises Henriques, the Renegades were 3-145 in the 15th over of their alloted 20.
Hales has played 14 times for England in T20 internationals, scoring four fifties at a strike rate of 128.
In a league dominated by slogging, there are still feats which make the most jaded watcher marvel. The Hales blitz was assuredly one of those.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.