Wildermuth upstages big names to set up Renegades’ victory

Jack Wildermuth was a long way short of the biggest name among the bevy of off-season recruits for the Melbourne Renegades, but it hasn’t taken long for him to make a major impact. Against his former club, no less.

The quick Queensland all-rounder ran through a depleted Brisbane Heat top order at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night, taking 3-16 from his four overs to help the Renegades to their second win from as many starts in the seventh Big Bash League season.

The seven wicket win also came on the back of a second straight half-century from veteran Cameron White, who led his team through an at-times tricky chase.

Renegades captain Aaron Finch said before the tournament that spots in his team’s XI were going to be hotly contested. That assessment looks very fair, given the Renegades have started the season so well with Jon Holland, Chris Tremain and Joe Mennie, all of whom have played for in the last 18 months, unable to break into the team.

Having beaten Hobart away on Thursday night, the Renegades went in unchanged and again elected to bowl after winning the toss.

Despite beating the Melbourne Stars at the Gabba on Wednesday night, the Heat’s batting was vulnerable, with Joe Burns missing through injury and Chris Lynn still not risked. Tom Cooper struck early, bowling the Heat captain Brendon McCullum for five after the New Zealand great missed an attempted slog sweep.

With the kingpin knocked over, Wildermuth turned his attention to skittling the rest of the top four. He succeeded, although the Heat did themselves few favours. Sam Heazlett spooned a catch to Finch at cover on 11, before Jimmy Peirson was bowled for 12 trying to slog. Marnus Labuschagne, who came into the XI for Burns, was then bowled for 20 in the 12th over, giving Wildermuth three wickets, and the Heat were in major trouble at 4-67.

Fresh off a half-century against the Stars, Alex Ross was again in solid touch and launched a recovery of sorts with Ben Cutting. But the ageless Brad Hogg stepped up to dismiss Cutting (18) and Shadab Khan (0) in the 17th over, halting any semblance of Brisbane momentum. Thursday night’s star Dwayne Bravo then exhibited another strong display of death bowling, picking up Josh Lalor (10) and Ross (48) at the start of the final over, and the Heat had been restricted to what was never likely to be a winning total of 8-132.

Things looked even more ominous for the Heat in the early stages of the chase. A misfield on the boundary from Sam Heazlett gifted four to Marcus Harris in the first over, while Harris was given a life in the next over when Cutting dropped a slips catch. But teenage Pakistani leg-spinner Shadab changed the mood by getting Finch caught behind for eight, before bowling Harris for nine, leaving the Renegades 2-29 in the fifth over.

Shadab and fellow leggie Mitchell Swepson tied the Renegades down, but just as he did against the Hurricanes, White anchored the chase. He and Cooper saw off Shadab, although only just, with White lucky not to become Shadab’s third victim when Lalor narrowly missed a catch in the deep.

However Cooper and White upped the ante not long after that, and even though White fell for 51 in the 17th over, Cooper (52 not out) and Brad Hodge (nine not out) ensured the Renegades got home with eight balls to spare, Cooper sealing the deal with a six to bring up his half-century.

The Renegades are next in action on Friday night against the Perth Scorchers, again at Etihad.