A stunning outfield catch by Brisbane Heat bowler Michael Neser has helped his team upset the Sydney Sixers in the Big Bash final at the SCG on Wednesday night.
With the Heat in a dominant position after setting the Sixers a total of 8-166, they then bowled the Sixers out for 112 in the 18th over to claim their first BBL title in 11 years.
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Michael Neser takes unbelievable catch in BBL final.
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The Sixers were eight wickets down in the 17th over when Sean Abbott skied a ball to the boundary, only for Neser to run with flight of the ball and somehow hang onto it while falling to the ground.
The degrees of difficulty were heightened, however, by the presence of the boundary rope which the fast bowler, somewhat unbelievably, managed to avoid to ensure the catch was legitimate.
“I think he may have been able to create a little miracle,” Seven commentator Jason Richardson cried. “He has taken the catch, but where has his hand gone?”
Michael Neser’s ‘freak’ catch had to be reviewed by the third umpire who made sure Neser’s hand didn’t touch the rope. Credit: Seven
The ‘soft call’ by the umpire was ‘out’ but the catch went upstairs to be reviewed by the third umpire.
“Do you have an angle from behind? I want to see if he is in contact with the boundary and ball at the same time. It is whether the hand is inside the rope or over the rope,” the video umpire inquired.
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Star Seven commentator Ricky Ponting then exclaimed: “This is going to be out!”
And, indeed, it was, only for pandemonium to follow inside the commentary box and around the country.
“It is remarkable …” the commentators said.
“Has he defied inertia? This is unbelievable fielding from Neser.
“He is a freak show.
“Wow! What a piece of athleticism. He has been regarded as the best outfield catcher of any fast bowler we have seen. He just showed us why. It’s 9/112.”
Heat players celebrate on the podium at the SCG. Credit: Getty Images
Seven expert commentator Brad Hodge later called Neser “the best fielder in the universe” and told Neser has jaw-dropping catch had just been called “the most stunning catch in the BBL”.
The Heat then bowled the Sixers out for 112 in the 18th over to claim the title in front of a record crowd of 43,153.
It was a fitting result after Brisbane went through the first nine rounds of the season undefeated before their overseas stars left ahead of the finals.
And it was then the club’s band of late bloomers who stood up.
After opener Josh Brown and quick Spencer Johnson fired against Adelaide to send them into the decider, the pair were at it again on Wednesday.
Brown hit 53 from 38 balls to set the tone for the Heat before Johnson took the best ever figures in a BBL final with 4-26 to wipe out any hope the Sixers had of chasing down the target.
Mitch Swepson and Jimmy Peirson with the trophy after the Heat’s stunning win. Credit: Getty Images
After a slow start when he hit three runs from his first 10 deliveries, Brown exploded after the powerplay to bring up 50 in 32 balls.
The right-hander hit three sixes off Hayden Kerr, with two dispatched over long on and another over backward square.
His innings allowed Max Bryant (29 off 19) and Matt Renshaw (40 from 22) to finish strong.
Brown was eventually lbw on review when replays showed a Steve O’Keefe ball hit his pad before he cut it to point, making him the retiring spinner’s 99th and final BBL wicket.
The 30-year-old only debuted last season, but has now attracted offers from overseas clubs in the UAE and Bangladesh since hitting 12 sixes in his 140 against the Strikers on Monday.
The only rise more rapid than Brown’s is Johnson’s, who debuted in the BBL aged 27 last summer and has since played for Australia.
Wednesday night was a reminder of why.
/The left-armer, who was named man of the match, broke the back of the Sixers early when he bowled Jack Edwards for 16 after the Sixers had taken 13 runs from the first five balls of the over.
He also bagged the key wicket of Josh Philippe for 22 when the right-hander was caught at mid wicket, before returning to remove Ben Dwarshuis and Hayden Kerr with his pace and bounce.
Johnson’s wickets stunted any hope the Sixers had of chasing down the target, with COVID-battling captain Moises Henriques the only batter to reach 25.
Mitchell Swepson (2-19) also sent down the best ball of the game, beating Jordan Silk with flight and turn to have him stumped for a fourth-ball duck.
The Heat’s win comes after they were beaten in the final over of last year’s final, while the Sixers remain stuck on three titles from seven appearances in deciders.
Abbott held the hosts together with the ball with 4-32, but they were always facing an uphill battle chasing 167 on what has been a low-scoring ground this season.
– With AAP