Scorchers cruise past Heat to top BBL

Murray Wenzel |

Brisbane have debuted their latest hidden gem but couldn’t stop Perth cruising to the top of the Big Bash League ladder.

The Scorchers chased down the Heat’s 6-155 with eight wickets and 22 balls remaining at the Gabba on Wednesday night, their seventh win from nine starts.

The loss leaves the Heat flailing, three wins outside the top-five with just five games to play.

Josh Inglis scored 67 off 35 balls, sharing in a 132-run stand with Aaron Hardie (65 off 45), the pair unbeaten and untroubled after coming together with work to do at 2-25 in the fourth over.

Jason Behrendorff (3-21) did the first-innings damage for the visitors, named man of the match after running through the Heat’s Test-bolstered batting order to pick up his 100th BBL scalp in the process.

The Heat were in the contest early, left-arm quick Spencer Johnson (0-22 off 3.2 overs) impressive on debut with his pace and bounce almost unplayable.

“He swings the ball up front and that’s gold in T20; he’s always on the money and takes wickets in the power play,” Inglis said of Behrendorff.

“And he (Johnson) was actually quite tough to pick up his length, with a bit of a delay in his action, was getting on quicker than we expected.”

The game turned when Usman Khawaja, captaining on his Heat debut after an off-season move from the Sydney Thunder, replaced Johnson with Marnus Labuschagne.

The legspinner was taken for 20 in his only over as Inglis and Hardie cashed in on some loose deliveries and poor fielding.

“Yeah they did,” Inglis said when asked if his eyes lit up at the sight of Labuschagne’s first loose ball.

“But after the first one I made sure I switched on. I know how much Marn loves his bowling; I’d never hear the end of it if he got me out.”

South Australian Johnson, 27, struggled with a serious ankle injury in his early 20s and played three one-dayers for the Redbacks as early as 2017.

But he revived his career with a move to Brisbane last year.

Like fellow Heat surprise packet Josh Brown, he impressed in Brisbane’s T20 competition to force his way into the BBL squad, finally earning a debut after the Heat left out regulars Mitchell Swepson and Mark Steketee.

Khawaja called on Johnson to bowl the power surge but by then Inglis and Hardie were flying, the latter finishing the chase with a powerful six over mid-on.

Earlier Behrendorff had the Heat’s measure, Inglis dropping a tough chance off Khawaja before the Scorchers veteran dismissed Brown (18), Labuschagne (10) and Matt Renshaw (28) just as they were threatening to break free.

He bowled during the power surge that backfired on the hosts, who lost 2-11 in those two overs, before Max Bryant (36 off 27) finished well.