It’s the stuff of epic cricketing theatre: a six required to win off the last ball in a do-or-die semi-final.
- Sydney Thunder needed five runs off the last ball to win, meaning Nicola Carey essentially had to smash a six
- But the Thunder were denied a place in the WBBL final thanks to incredible catch on the boundary rope by the Heat’s Haidee Birkett
- Brisbane Heat are the first team into this year’s decider, where they will meet either the Sixers or the Renegades
That was the task Sydney Thunder’s Nicola Carey was staring down, with her team needing five runs off the last ball against the Brisbane Heat to progress to the Women’s Big Bash final.
Only a maximum would do.
Heat tweaker Jess Jonassen flighted in a ball down the leg side. Carey had sized it up. Adjusting her body, she hammered the ball aerially over square leg.
It was headed for the fence, but travelling at a low trajectory.
Steaming in from fine leg, Haidee Birkett was making serious ground.
To the gasps of the crowd, and elation for the Heat, Birkett took the catch superbly, applying the brakes in time and dropping to the floor to avoid overstepping the boundary rope.
It sealed a thrilling four-run win for the Heat, which progresses to the WBBL final, at the cost of a deflated Carey and her Thunder teammates.
Such was the epic nature of the win, even former Heat player Ashleigh Barty found time to congratulate her old franchise during the Australian Open tennis tournament.
The Heat had set the Thunder 141 to win after Sammy-Jo Johnson (33) and Laura Harris (32 not out) led the way for the Brisbane side at Drummoyne Oval in Sydney, with six Thunder bowlers picking up a wicket apiece.
After losing her partner early, Rachel Priest helped set up a strong response from the Thunder before she fell for 44, but apart from Alex Blackwell’s 29, there were no real strong contributions from the batters to follow.
Carey looked like she would pull victory from the jaws of defeat with her 19 from 10 balls, only to be denied a Hollywood-style winning finish at the death by the fleet-footed Birkett.
The Heat will meet either the Sixers or the Renegades in the WBBL decider.