Ben Stokes smashed 77 off just 37 balls on a blistering Big Bash debut for the Melbourne Renegades in a 37-run win over Hobart Hurricanes.
He formed part of an intimidating Renegades batting line-up, but one that has misfired in this year’s Big Bash – including a dismal 57 all out effort last week in a 112-run thrashing by their city rivals, the Stars. So when Matthew Wade (2) was dismissed – bringing Stokes to the crease – and Aaron Finch (5) soon after, there must have been concern of a fourth defeat in five for the bottom-of-the-table Renegades. But Stokes – relishing the responsibility of batting at three – smashed seven fours and five sixes to send the Melbourne side on their way to 163-7 from their 20 overs. His boundaries were the only ones managed by the Renegades until the 14th over, when finally someone else sent the ball to the fence. So it was no surprise that when Stokes fell, with the score on 106 in the 12th over, to a great catch by George Bailey as he top-edged a ball from Cameron Boyce, the Renegades’ innings lost a little momentum They managed only a further 57 runs from the remaining 51 balls in the innings with Callum Ferguson’s run-a-ball 31 the only other knock of note. Stokes’ innings will have sent a message to the selectors who have excluded him from England’s World Cup squad. One player included in that squad, but equally looking to impress, had a tougher afternoon – Alex Hales made just seven in his final innings for the Hurricanes before joining up with England. When he was dismissed – bowled by Nathan Rimmington as he attempted a slog to leg – the Hurricanes were 29-3 in the sixth over. And it did not get much better for the home side in front of a silenced Hobart crowd – the only bright spark being some tail-ender strikes for six late on from Boyce, Ben Hilfenhaus and Jake Reed – as they stuttered to 126 all out, with Nicholas Winter picking up 3-19 for the Renegades. Tim Bresnan – also on debut in the Big Bash – went wicketless in his four overs for the Hurricanes and scored 13.