Australia is ready to ditch the cardboard cutouts and welcome back thousands of spectators to its major sporting events, prime minister Scott Morrison has declared.

From July, venues with up to 40,000 seats will be allowed to operate at a limit of 25 per cent capacity, providing events are ticketed and seated.

Morrison confirmed the same guidelines could also apply to larger venues but said local health authorities would need to assess coronavirus risk on a case-by-case basis.

The news could mean events such as the NRL and AFL welcome back supporters next month, and it boosts the prospect of cricket's ICC Twenty20 World Cup taking place with fans in October and November.

Announcing the reopening of stadiums to fans, albeit with social distancing measures in place, Morrison said he was "sure that will be very welcome".

Australia's biggest venues, such as the MCG, Docklands Stadium and Stadium Australia, may also soon be back open for business.

"For the larger ones I would venture that it would be the subject of a discrete approval for each venue, that would be worked up with the chief health officer in each state or territory," Morrison said.

"So, by the time you get into July there may be that type of opportunity for the rules that apply to those under 40,000 to just carry over to those above 40,000, but that is not a decision that has been taken yet.

"These will be practical, common-sense issues, they'll be worked through by the medical expert panel over the next few weeks and I think that will give it greater instruction.

"The purpose of me flagging this today is so sporting codes, venues, state and territory governments, can engage in that appropriate discussion, know broadly what the parameters are which the national cabinet has set, so it means that people will be able to watch the games, not as cardboard cutouts, but in person, should they be fortunate enough to get one of those seats."

Australia has had over 7,200 cases of COVID-19, with 102 deaths, and there are fewer than 500 current cases in the country, the government said.

Josh Philippe's half-century lifted the Sydney Sixers to their second Big Bash League title with a 19-run win in a rain-affected final against Melbourne Stars, who finished as runners-up for the second successive season.

Heavy rainfall had threatened to wash out the game at the SCG on Saturday, but the conditions eased and there was enough time for a 12-over match in which the Sixers came out on top.

The hosts – champions in the inaugural 2011-12 campaign – were in trouble at 68-4 but Philippe smashed 52 off 29 balls to guide them to 116-5, Adam Zampa finally removing the opener with the final delivery of the innings.

Despite possessing explosive batsmen Marcus Stoinis and Glenn Maxwell in their ranks, the Stars did not get firing until Nick Larkin and Nathan Coulter-Nile put on an unbroken 43-run stand for the seventh wicket.

However, spinners Nathan Lyon (2-19) and Steve O'Keefe (2-27) took two wickets apiece, while Josh Hazlewood and Ben Dwarshuis kept the run rate down as the Stars suffered a third final defeat.

 

A STRONG START

James Vince made just two off nine deliveries before picking out mid-on off Daniel Worrall, but Steve Smith (21) ensured the Sixers stayed on track after Maxwell put the Stars in.

Smith and Philippe took the fight to the Stars and the latter claimed four fours and three maximums to score his third fifty in four BBL games.

Although captain Moises Henriques fell for seven and Maxwell removed Daniel Hughes for a golden duck, Philippe established a 48-run stand with Jordan Silk (27 not out) to set what looked to be a par score.

 

HISTORY REPEATING?

When the teams met in the qualifier, the Sixers bowled the Stars out for the lowest score in their history – just 99.

There must have been a sense of deja vu when they slumped to 25-4 after 4.1 overs, with key batsmen Stoinis and Maxwell departing early.

Stoinis was the highest-scoring player in the BBL this year and plundered a record 147 when the teams first met this season, but he made just 10 before holing out to deep midwicket off Lyon and O'Keefe snared Maxwell lbw to leave the Stars in dire straits.

 

STARS BURNT OUT

Smith run out Peter Handscomb – off O'Keefe to leave the Stars 54-6.

Despite the impressive efforts of Larkin, who hit two fours and as many sixes in an unbeaten 38, and Coulter-Nile, the visitors were unable to come back from the early setbacks and fell to a resounding defeat.

Marcus Stoinis and Nick Larkin shared a brilliant 117-run partnership to fire Melbourne Stars into the Big Bash League final with a convincing 28-run win over Sydney Thunder.

The Stars topped the regular-season table but were battered by Sydney Sixers in last week's Qualifier.

However, they will get a shot at redemption in Saturday's showpiece after winning the Challenger on home turf at the MCG with Stoinis and man of the match Larkin each hammering 83 in an imposing score of 194-2.

Stoinis' knock saw him break the record for the most runs in a single BBL season and, despite Alex Ross putting on 45 and 58 with Chris Morris and Arjun Nair, the Thunder could only muster 166-8 in reply with Haris Rauf (3-17), Nathan Coulter-Nile (2-29) and Adam Zampa (2-43) doing the damage.

STOINIS AND LARKIN MAKE THUNDER TOIL

It has been a BBL season to remember for Stoinis, whose 695 runs so far betters the 637 accumulated by D'Arcy Short last term.

There were seven fours and three sixes from the Australia limited-overs international from his 54 balls, and he made the most of being dropped down the leg side by Jay Lenton.

While Stoinis was eventually bowled by Morris, Larkin was unbeaten come the end of a brutal 49-ball knock in which he clubbed three straight over the ropes and recorded another nine fours.

 

RAUF AND CO. FINISH THE JOB

The Thunder had already seen dangerman Alex Hales (8) run out and Usman Khawaja (23 off 15) bowled by Coulter-Nile after a promising start by the time Rauf tempted captain Callum Ferguson (7) into a misguided waft that sailed to wicketkeeper Seb Gotch. 

Needing partnerships, Ross – whose knock of 58 included three fours and as many sixes – was combining well with Morris before the latter was bowled by the brilliant Rauf.

The writing was on the wall even before Ross and Nair each fell to Zampa in the 17th over and Rauf claimed one more for his personal tally from the final set of six when Lenton picked out Nic Maddinson at deep midwicket.

Marcus Stoinis has been rewarded for his eye-catching Big Bash League exploits after landing the Player of the Tournament award.

The Melbourne Stars all-rounder edged out Sydney Sixers paceman Tom Curran by two votes, with the winner decided by a ballot among the umpires at the end of the 56 regular season matches.

Stoinis' 26 votes put him three clear of third-placed Alex Hales, who will be in action when Sydney Thunder face the Stars in Thursday's BBL challenger clash. The Sixers await in the final.

"I'm honoured to have been voted as the 2019-20 KFC Big Bash League Player of the Tournament," said Australia international Stoinis.

"I love playing for Melbourne Stars. This team is special to me and I love having the opportunity to run out onto the field with them.

"We've got a big match against the Sydney Thunder on Thursday night and I hope to see our Team Green fans at the MCG to help get us over the line."

Stoinis went past 600 runs this season, becoming only the second player to do so in a single campaign.

He made history with his record-breaking knock of 147 not out against the Sixers in January, when he also shared a BBL all-time best 207-run opening stand with Hilton Cartwright.

The Stars finished as runners-up in 2019, losing in the final to Melbourne Renegades.

The Sydney Thunder capitalised on a stunning Adelaide Strikers collapse to snatch an eight-run win and move within a match of the Big Bash League final.

Set a meagre 152 for victory on Saturday, the Strikers were cruising towards a comfortable victory before Daniel Sams (3-26) and Chris Morris (2-22) instigated the loss of five wickets for 24 runs.

Star batsman Alex Hales top scored with 59 for the Thunder, who finished four points behind Adelaide on the ladder but will now face the Melbourne Stars in a do-or-die challenger clash on Thursday.

The winner of that match will advance to face the Sydney Sixers in the February 8 final at the SCG.

 

HALES GIVES THUNDER HOPE

Usman Khawaja's early exit and the loss of Callum Ferguson inside six overs could have derailed the Thunder before their innings began to take shape.

Hales had other ideas and, like he has done so regularly in the tournament, gave his team crucial quick runs at the top of the order.

The destructive England opener hammered six fours and four sixes to record his fourth half-century in five innings while dominating a 51-run stand with Alex Ross (12).

Arjun Nair (18) and all-rounder Morris (21) made handy contributions lower down the order to build a competitive total, but the Thunder would surely have been bundled out if not for their key man.

 

STRIKERS SQUANDER WINNING POSITION

Phil Salt's departure in the opening over of the chase failed to prevent the Strikers from making a confident start in front of an expectant Adelaide Oval crowd.

Travis Head entered and struck a quickfire 32 before Alex Carey (28) and Jonathan Wells (34) came together and produced what looked to be a match-winning partnership worth 50 runs.

Then, however, came the collapse. Australia international Carey was run out after gambling on a quick single and the promotion of Rashid Khan failed to pay dividends as he looped a catch out to deep square two balls later.

When Morris pinned Matt Short in front for a duck, the Strikers had lost three wickets for two runs and undone their good work.

 

TREMAIN FLAILS BUT THUNDER PREVAIL

Adelaide's implosion was only matched by that of Thunder bowler Chris Tremain, who sent down three wides in a wretched 16-run 18th over that left the door ajar.

Sams made amends, conceding five runs and removing both Michael Neser and Peter Siddle the following over.

Morris then extracted a thin edge from Wells, the Strikers' famed finisher, to all but end the contest at the beginning of the 20th.

Key contributors Sams and Hales combined to let a high ball go to ground but the damage was done as the Thunder kept alive their hopes of a second BBL title.

Sydney Sixers skittled Melbourne Stars for just 99 to punch their ticket to the Big Bash League final with a comprehensive 43-run win in Friday's Qualifier.

The Stars finished top of the table but suffered three straight defeats at the end of the regular season, while the Sixers – who will now get to host the final – won as many on the spin heading into the match.

It was a contest that followed the form book, with Steve O'Keefe (2-22), Sean Abbott (3-23) and Josh Hazlewood (2-14) impressing, while Nathan Lyon and Ben Dwarshuis each took a wicket.

Only three Stars batsmen made double figures at the MCG in a poor chase in reply to the Sixers' 142-7, which looked well under par with Josh Philippe's 34 the highest knock of a low-scoring affair.

The Stars, whose score represents their lowest in the BBL, have another chance to make the final and will meet the winners of Saturday's match between Adelaide Strikers and Sydney Thunder.

 

STARS INITIALLY STEM SIXERS

What will disappoint the hosts the most is how they failed to build on an excellent showing in the field.

Philippe found the boundary four times before being caught-and-bowled by Haris Rauf an over after opening partner James Vince (12) fell to the impressive Adam Zampa (3-21).

Moises Henriques and Steve Smith put on 40 for the third wicket before the latter was given caught behind off Zampa despite believing he had not hit the ball.

From there the Sixers failed to build any partnerships of note. It meant a huge effort would be needed with the ball…

 

MELBOURNE LEFT SEEING STARS

Things started badly for Melbourne with Marcus Stoinis (5), Nick Larkin (4) and Peter Handscomb (4) falling inside five overs.

It did not get any better for the home side as Nic Maddinson (16) top-edged to short third man and the gleeful hands of O'Keefe, who quickly came to the fore.

O'Keefe first forced Seb Gotch to drag on before snaring the huge wicket of Glenn Maxwell (16), who was too straight with his attempt to clear long-off. 

The wickets then fell with regularity and Daniel Worrall and Rauf fell off consecutive deliveries from Abbott to wrap up the win with 12 balls to spare.

Alex Hales and Usman Khawaja blew the Hobart Hurricanes attack away before Jonathan Cook struck four times as Sydney Thunder won the Big Bash League Eliminator by 57 runs.

The Hurricanes hit form at the right time to make the play-offs, but they crashed out with a crushing defeat at Blundstone Arena on Thursday.

It will be the Thunder who face Adelaide Strikers in the Knockout clash at Adelaide Oval on Saturday after they racked up 197-5 and Hobart were all out for 140 in reply.

In-form batsman Hales, the second-highest run-scorer in the competition, blasted 60 off 37 balls and Khawaja bludgeoned a 34-ball 54 in an onslaught of 103 for the first wicket inside 10 overs.

Hobart never really looked like chasing that down with D'Arcy Short gone for 37 and Matthew Wade just 14, Cook dismissing both openers and finishing with outstanding figures of 4-21.

Chris Morris claimed 3-27 and Daniel Sams, the leading wicket-taker in the tournament, 2-24 in an impressive display from Sydney in the field as they eased through to end George Bailey's career.

THUNDER OPENERS MAKE LIGHTNING START

Hales and Khawaja got the Thunder off to a dream start after Callum Ferguson won the toss, setting about Clive Rose, James Faulkner, Scott Boland and Short.

Back-to-back overs from Rose and Boland cost 17 runs apiece, the latter put onto the roof at deep square leg by Hales after Khawaja was the first to a half-century from only 30 balls.

Faulkner struck Khawaja bang in front with a slower ball in the 10th over before Hales also moved to 50 off 30 deliveries, the English opener going on to blast Qais Ahmad for his third six before falling to Boland.

 

ELLIS BRINGS SOME CALM AFTER THE STORM

Ferguson ought to have been run out when he was well set after dispatching Short for two boundaries in as many balls before Alex Ross took a liking to the spin of Rose.

Short held on when Ferguson slapped a Rose full toss to him at deep midwicket as the Thunder lost the momentum somewhat before taking 16 off the penultimate over from Faulkner

Nathan Ellis finished off his excellent spell by going for just six off the last over to record figures of 1-18 from four, but Hales and Khawaja's stand left the Hurricanes facing a huge challenge to stay in the tournament.

 

COOK COMES TO THE BOIL, BAILEY BOWS OUT

Much was resting on the shoulders of Wade and the big-hitting Short, but Cook had the captain caught behind and also saw the back of his fellow opener.

There was no explosive swansong for Bailey, retiring to become an Australia national selector, as he was sent on his way by Morris to leave Hobart with a mountain to climb at 74-4 in the ninth over.

The excellent Cook also removed Simon Milenko and cleaned up Rose in what was an emphatic win for the Thunder.

The Brisbane Heat missed out on a place in the Big Bash League finals after a seven-wicket defeat to the Melbourne Renegades on Monday.

Aaron Finch led a cool and commanding chase, his 63 not out leading the Renegades to 155-3 after the Heat had set a target of 155 at Docklands.

Only a win would have been enough to secure a play-off place for Darren Lehmann's side, but they failed to make the most of chances in the field, meaning the Sydney Thunder take the fifth and final spot.

With AB de Villiers (six) failing to fire after another top-order collapse, questions will likely be asked about Lehmann's future after a disappointing end to a hugely underwhelming season.

RENSHAW LEADS RESISTANCE AFTER HEAT GO OFF THE BOIL 

The Heat were 1-35 after just 21 balls as they endured another miserable start after winning the bat flip. 

Sam Heazlett's wild slice gave Finch an easy catch, and Ben Cutting, perhaps over-confident after four early boundaries that included two sixes off Will Sutherland (3-30), was lost lbw when teeing up for another big swing. 

De Villiers went to sweep Samit Patel (1-23) only for the ball to cannon off the back leg and into the stumps, and when Chris Lynn was bowled by Nabi (1-23) for the loss of just 14, the Heat's troubles were mounting. 

Renshaw and Marnus Labuschagne began the rebuilding job, the latter digging deep for 28 off 26 deliveries before Jack Wildermuth caught him trying to clear the ropes from Cameron Boyce (1-29). 

Renshaw remained a beacon of resistance, his unbeaten 65 helping the Heat amass a respectable target before he was run out in the final over.

FINCH KEEPS COOL AFTER COOPER TANTRUM

Tom Cooper and Finch made an encouraging start to the chase before the former sent a delivery from Cutting (2-35) to the grateful grasp of Jack Prestwidge at deep midwicket, leaving Cooper visibly fuming as he headed back to the dugout.

The Renegades were 2-44 when Daniel Christian was caught superbly by Renshaw and, when Beau Webster was bowled full and straight by Cutting after making 14, Heat hopes were beginning to rise. 

Finch, though, refused to panic. Australia's Twenty20 and ODI captain showed few signs of wilting in the Heat onslaught, with Nabi's four boundaries helping to keep the pressure off his skipper. 

Prestwidge allowed a Finch drive to slide through his fingers as the Heat found their season slipping away, another mistake on the rope helping Finch bring up his half-century. 

Six more over deep backward square and a drive wide of cover signalled the death knell to the Heat's play-off ambitions and gave the Renegades something to smile about at the end of a difficult season.

Matthew Wade smashed a glorious century as the Hobart Hurricanes beat the Adelaide Strikers by 10 runs to clinch a place in the Big Bash League's Eliminator.

Buoyed by solid efforts of 66 and 56 in his previous two outings, Wade found an entirely new level on Sunday, toying with the Strikers bowlers as he hit an unbeaten 130 off 61 balls, a career-best T20 score.

Wade's previous best in the shorter format was 88, but he went well beyond that in a team total of 217-1, setting Adelaide a daunting victory target.

The Strikers came up short, finishing eight wickets down.

The result means the Hurricanes will play the Eliminator against either Sydney Thunder or Brisbane Heat in the Big Bash League finals, while Adelaide must face the winner of that contest after missing out on the chance to finish second.

 

UNTOUCHABLE WADE DAZZLES

Wade produced an innings for the ages at the Adelaide Oval.

In total, he hit 11 fours and seven sixes from 61 balls of pure mastery, as the 32-year-old left the Strikers looking clueless, particularly when knocking three successive boundaries off Wes Agar in the 17th over.

It was Wade's maiden T20 century, and the second-highest innings in Big Bash history, only trailing Marcus Stoinis' stunning unbeaten 147 from earlier this month.

As impressive as Wade was, he did not do it all alone – on another day D'Arcy Short might have been the man of the moment with his applaudable 72, as the pair's 203 partnership was only four adrift of the Big Bash record.

Their stand almost lasted the entire innings, but Short eventually fell in the penultimate over taken at long-on after not quite getting enough on Michael Neser's delivery, allowing Phil Salt to catch.

STRIKERS JUST FALL SHORT

Although the Hurricanes set a hefty total to chase, the Strikers seemed to be on track until the seventh over, with Salt and Travis Head posting a solid 79-run partnership following the early fall of Jake Weatherald in the second over – Macalister Wright taking the catch from Clive Rose's delivery.

The Strikers certainly piled the pressure on towards the end, with Alex Carey (39) and Jonathan Wells (15) hitting five boundaries between them in seven balls across the 15th and 16th overs.

But the commendable death skills of James Faulkner (1-35) and Nathan Ellis (2-36) upset the Strikers' flow, toppling Rashid Khan (eight), Carey (39), Matthew Short (six) and Neser (nine) in the final three overs.

Chris Morris emerged as the final-over hero after Sydney Thunder preserved their Big Bash League play-off hopes with a tense win over Perth Scorchers on Sunday.

The Thunder needed to triumph to avoid elimination from top-five contention and held their nerve with the bat after being set 96 from 12 overs for victory following a rain delay at Spotless Stadium.

South African Morris clubbed a six and a four in consecutive deliveries to reward Alex Hales' blistering 47 and get the hosts home with two balls to spare, sealing a seven-wicket victory that takes them above the Scorchers and into fourth.

Miserly bowling from Chris Tremain (1-14) and Daniel Sams (1-16) earlier restricted the Scorchers to 99-4 from 15 overs, their total reduced following the hour-long pause in play.

 

BANCROFT BUILDS COMPETITIVE TOTAL

The Scorchers gave themselves plenty of work to do after winning the toss, electing to bat and then slipping to 64-4 in the 12th over of their truncated innings.

They were indebted to Cameron Bancroft for achieving a reasonable score before the rain arrived, the Australia international managing a valuable unbeaten 35 from 25 balls amid scant contributions elsewhere in the top six.

Liam Livingstone stuttered to Perth's next-best score with 20 off 27 as Tremain, Sams and Morris (1-9) kept the total down.

 

HALES HELPS THUNDER THROUGH THE STORM

Following scores of 85 and 63 in the previous two games, England international Hales continued his fine form in a standout performance.

The 31-year-old made light of a difficult wicket as he breezed to 47 from 27 balls before slicing a catch to cover off Fawad Ahmad (1-15).

The ease with which Hales found the boundary - his innings included four fours and two sixes - came in contrast to the other batsman during a low-scoring affair on a difficult wicket.

 

MORRIS SETTLES THUNDER NERVES

Hales' departure led to the loss of three wickets for 16 runs as the Thunder started to let victory slip from their grasp.

Usman Khawaja (22) was caught out of his crease, Jhye Richardson bowled Alex Ross and the Scorchers suddenly became favourites to escape with the points.

Enter all-rounder Morris. After watching Callum Ferguson take three runs off the first two balls of the decisive 12th over from Matt Kelly, the 32-year-old brought a stunning end to the contest.

He struck a huge six over long-on and then pierced a drive through the off-side to snatch a season-saving win for the Thunder just as it looked to have eluded them.

Brisbane Heat kept their hopes of a place in the Big Bash League playoffs very much alive with a dominant win over leaders Melbourne Stars.

The Heat started the day on 10 points with two games to play but vaulted into the top five with a 71-run victory clinched with 14 balls to spare at the MCG.

AB de Villiers laid the platform for the Heat with a searing 71 off just 37 balls, helping Brisbane to 186-5.

The table-topping Stars promptly collapsed in response, spinners Mitchell Swepson and Mujeeb Ur Rahman doing the damage for Brisbane as Melbourne were bowled out for 115.

 

DEVASTATING DE VILLIERS

Veteran De Villiers had not scored a half-century in the BBL going into Saturday's contest, but he changed that fact in emphatic fashion.

The South African cleared the rope six times, with two of his sixes coming in an expensive Clint Hinchcliffe over.

De Villiers' primary support came from Australia international Marnus Labuschagne, who finished unbeaten on a 13-ball 24, the pair combining for a fifth-wicket stand of 70.

 

STARS PUT IN A SPIN

Marcus Stoinis (17) got the Stars' chase off to a strong start but it proved the first of two false dawns for the Stars, who lost Stoinis and Seb Gotch to James Pattinson in the fourth over.

Peter Handscomb (27) and Nick Larkin (22) appeared to have mounted a recovery with a stand of 36, only for the former to be run out chasing two as Mujeeb and De Villiers combined in the field.

Danger man Glenn Maxwell (1) followed three balls later as he was bowled by Swepson, who struck again to remove Nic Maddinson (9) and then Larkin after Nathan Coulter-Nile had fallen to Mujeeb for a duck.

That left the Stars on 92-7 and the tail never looked like mounting a remarkable recovery.

 

A TIGHT FINISH

In the fight for the final two playoff places, the Heat join the Scorchers on 12 points and would qualify as it stands, with Hobart Hurricanes and Sydney Thunder each a point back with a game to play.

Perth face the Thunder in their finale, while the Hurricanes visit Adelaide Strikers and the Heat face bottom side Melbourne Renegades.

The fight for the top five is going down to the wire.

Steve Smith helped the Sydney Sixers to a seven-wicket win over the Melbourne Renegades in the Big Bash League on Saturday.

Aaron Finch (109 off 68 balls) had led the struggling Renegades to 175-5 from their 20 overs at the SCG.

But after Josh Philippe's 61, Smith ensured the Sixers moved back into second in the table.

The Australia star made an unbeaten 66 off 40 balls as the Sixers reached their target with eight balls to spare.

 

FINCH PUNISHES SIXERS

Finch gave the Sixers chances when he was on 39 and 40, dropped by Jordan Silk and Philippe.

Another chance went begging when Finch was on 62, dropped by Ben Dwarshuis – who would face further punishment.

Bowling the next over, Dwarshuis was taken for 22 runs by Finch, including a six and three fours.

Finch went on to notch his eighth T20 century to guide the Renegades to what looked like a competitive total.

VINCE UNLUCKY

James Vince and Philippe helped the Sixers make a fine start to their chase, reaching 49 without loss after five overs.

But Vince's unfortunate dismissal would slow the Sixers down.

Will Sutherland dropped a return catch off Philippe, but the ball ricocheted onto the stumps at the non-striker's end, running Vince out for 22 off 13.

SMITH STEPS UP

That allowed Smith to take over.

A reverse sweep for four from Smith off Mohammad Nabi (1-27) in the 15th over helped the Sixers need 45 off the final five overs.

Smith almost went in the next over, with Nathan McSweeney producing a brilliant piece of fielding on the boundary, catching the ball as it was flying for six, but throwing it back as he fell over the rope.

But that would be the Renegades' last chance as Smith took control to lead the Sixers to victory.

Adelaide Strikers are sure of a place in the top three of the Big Bash League table after Wes Agar led them to a comfortable 16-run victory over Perth Scorchers on Friday.

Phil Salt's second half-century in his last four games helped the Strikers to 181-5 from their 20 overs, with Jake Weatherald and Travis Head making 35 apiece at Optus Stadium.

That target proved to be well beyond the hosts despite a magnificent knock from Liam Livingstone (79), Agar taking 3-36.

Adelaide are second in the table and will not have to contest the eliminator round of the play-offs. The Scorchers are fourth and can secure a place in the playoffs with a win over Sydney Thunder on Sunday.

 

SALT SHAKES UP SCORCHERS ATTACK

Opener Salt hit seven boundaries and a pair of maximums in his 31-ball 59, putting on 71 for the opening wicket with Weatherald.

Alex Carey and Head kept the scoreboard ticking with a stand of 43 off 28 balls and Jono Wells' contribution ensured the Strikers had plenty to defend.

A dozen of Wells' 23 runs off 16 balls came via him finding the rope, and those boundaries proved valuable as the Scorchers came up short in response.

LIVINGSTONE GIVES SCORCHERS HOPE

The Scorchers' top runs scorer in the BBL this season, Livingstone frequently threatened the rafters as he kept the hosts' hopes alive.

The English opener struck seven sixes in his explosive 54-ball knock and showed the ability to do so in unorthodox fashion, with ramp and hook shots sent sailing for six.

However, when man of the match Wes Agar ended his remarkable innings the prospect of a Scorchers victory went with him as they went from 115-5 to finishing on 165-7.

WES WINS BATTLE OF AGARS

Wes Agar also removed opener Josh Inglis and Scorchers captain Mitchell Marsh as he finished with figures of 3-36, ensuring he got the better of his brother Ashton Agar in the process.

Older sibling Ashton Agar took 2-29, dismissing openers Weatherald and Salt, and was unbeaten on 10 with the bat.

He still ended up on the losing side despite his admirable efforts, but was all smiles as he congratulated his younger brother after the match.

D'Arcy Short claimed a stunning five-wicket haul as Hobart Hurricanes thrashed Sydney Thunder by 57 runs in the Big Bash League to move into the final play-off spot on Friday.

All-rounder Short had never previously claimed four wickets in a Twenty20 match, but he went one better with figures of 5-21 to make up for a duck with the bat.

Captain Matthew Wade (56) and Mac Wright (64) struck half-centuries to get the Hurricanes up to 185-6 at Blundstone Arena.

The Thunder were always struggling after Short got rid of the in-form Alex Hales for 63, and a dismal collapse saw them collapse to 128 all out all out midway through the 18th over.

Victory for Hobart moves them above the Thunder into fifth spot on net run-rate, with both sides having one match of the regular season remaining. Brisbane Heat are one point behind them with two to play.


SKIPPER WADES IN AS D'ARCY FALLS SHORT

It did not seem it would be Short's day on his return to the side when he was dismissed by Arjun Nair (2-19) from the second delivery he faced, but fellow opener Wade and Wright made amends.

A second-wicket partnership of 97 lifted Hobart but was broken in frustrating fashion, Wade, with eight boundaries from 34 balls, caught behind off the excellent Daniels Sams.

The same combination of Sams and wicketkeeper Jay Lenton accounted for Wright, too, although only after he had dished out some further damage.

Sams ended with 4-34, but George Bailey's 29 off 10 helped ensure Hurricanes put an imposing total on the board.


THUNDEROUS HALES STRETCH INSPIRES

Sydney were always struggling to reach their target, but Hales gave them hope in the sixth over, blasting three straight sixes and a four to end to the powerplay on a competitive 55-0.

Hales stuck around for a time, but the boundaries were not so easy to find.

The opener went in the 13th over as Short claimed his first wicket of the evening, leaving Thunder on 100-3 and in need of something special.


SHORT ROARS BACK TO STUN SYDNEY

Instead Short tore through Sydney's middle order. Chris Morris was trapped lbw later in the same over, before Wright had his revenge for Lenton's earlier work with a diving catch.

Short checked Alex Ross' (36) briefly explosive knock, too, and had his five-for three balls later - fittingly seeing the back of Nair.

Thunder ultimately fell short in dismal fashion, consecutive balls seeing Gurinder Sandhu bowled and Liam Bowe ran out by Wright.

James Vince and Josh Philippe made half-centuries as Sydney Sixers thrashed Brisbane Heat by eight wickets in Steve Smith's Big Bash League return.

All eyes were on Sixers batsman Smith in his first BBL appearance for six years, while Heat batsman Marnus Labuschagne played his first match of the 2019-20 tournament after returning from Australia's ODI series in India.

Labuschagne made only three as the Heat were restricted to 126-8, with runs hard to come by on a slow Gabba surface on Thursday.

Steve O'Keefe was named man of the match after taking 1-20 from his four overs, while Jackson Bird, Tom Curran and Ben Dwarshuis took two wickets apiece.

The Sixers eased to their target with 25 balls to spare, Vince making a stylish 51 off 37 balls and fellow opener Philippe an unbeaten 52 from 43.

Smith fell for only nine, but the Sixers were all-but home by then as they moved above Adelaide Strikers into second spot in the battle to face Melbourne Stars in the first Qualifier at the MCG.

The Heat have now lost three in a row and are just outside the play-off spots with two games to play.

 

STRUGGLING HEAT BATSMEN FAIL TO FIRE

O'Keefe stuck a big blow by removing Chris Lynn's off stump in the third over and the Heat were 33-2 in the fifth when Matt Renshaw was removed by Bird, having struck Nathan Lyon for six and four in the previous over.

Lyon had Sam Heazlett caught and bowled before Labuschagne was taken by Smith attempting to pull Curran, with the Heat slumping to 57-5 halfway through their innings.

James Pattinson made a brisk 27 not out from 15 balls after AB de Villiers (25) was caught by Smith in the deep, but the Sixers bowlers did a great job of restricting the Heat to a below-par total.

 

VINCE PROMOTION PAYS OFF

England batsman Vince was promoted to open with Philippe, Daniel Hughes dropping down the order.

He made the most of his opportunity at the top of the order, full of confidence after making an unbeaten 41 in a victory over the Melbourne Stars last time out.

Vince showed his class with glorious strokes on both sides of the wicket, coming down the track to launch Mujeeb Ur Rahman into the stands and reaching his half-century off 34 balls with a classy drive over cover before pulling Ben Laughlin to Heazlett.

 

PHILIPPE RETURNS TO FORM, SMITH MISSES OUT

Wicketkeeper batsman Philippe had mustered only 32 in his previous five knocks, but returned to form in batting conditions that were not straightforward.

Vince comfortably outscored Philippe in a stand of 75, but the 22-year-old clattered Laughlin for 10 off two balls as the Sixers closed in on an emphatic victory.

Pattinson followed Smith and had his Australia team-mate caught behind when he moved outside leg stump attempting an expansive drive, but Philippe brought up his half-century before Moises Henriques put the Heat out of their misery.

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