Aaron Finch has enjoyed a winning finish despite a third-ball duck, as his Melbourne Renegades side dealt a massive blow to the BBL finals hopes of local rivals Melbourne Stars with a six-wicket victory.
Marvel Stadium witnessed an anti-climatic finale with the bat on Saturday from former Australian captain Finch, who came charging down the pitch and skied an easy catch to his old mate Glenn Maxwell at mid-off.
Maxwell didn’t celebrate as Finch walked off to great acclaim, raising his bat to acknowledge the 41,205 crowd.
Finch, the Renegades all-time leading scorer, had his team jersey number retired before the game.
He departs as a T20 great, having notched the second most BBL runs, hundreds fifties and fours and the fourth-most sixes.
“This club is something I’ve put everything into, it’s sad that it’s over but I’m also happy,” Finch told Fox cricket.
“I’m obviously well past my best, the young kids coming through are so good so I wanted to give them every opportunity but it’s to nice to go out with a win, especially against the Stars.”
Indeed, the Gades gave him the proper send-off. Chasing the Stars’ 8-137 on a tricky wicket offering assistance to spinners and quicks, they achieved their target with 16 balls to spare.
They stumbled in the Power Surge but veteran Shaun Marsh (64no off 49 balls) and Jonathan Wells (14no off 15) steered them to victory with a 46-run stand to lift the Renegades off the bottom of the table.
The loss left the fifth-placed Stars a point behind Adelaide Strikers, who will wrap up fourth spot if they beat the Thunder in Canberra on Sunday.
If the Strikers lose, the Stars will finish fourth if they win their final match against Hobart Hurricanes on Monday at the MCG.
Young hot shot Jake Fraser-McGurk, one of those “young kids” Finch was talking about, underlined his talent with a sparkling 42 off 31 balls.
He and Marsh did play and miss a number of times, as the Stars seamers exploited the favourable conditions, but added 68.
Fraser-McGurk provided one of the highlights of the game, with a sweetly timed six over midwicket, the shot making a glorious cracking sound as it flew off the bat.
The Renegades looked in control at the halfway stage at 1-74 after taking 16 runs off the 10th over.
But they lost three wickets in the Power Surge, which they took immediately after the mid-innings break.
Four Stars passed 20, but Hilton Cartwright (38 off 30 balls) was the only one to pass 30.
Finch’s old housemate, Victorian and Australian colleague Maxwell, briefly threatened to be a party pooper as he blasted his way to 20 off 10 balls.
He took 16 off three successive balls in Tom Rogers’ second over, but was out the next over.
Speaking to Fox through his on-field microphone during the game, a frank Maxwell lamented his side’s “abysmal fielding” and his attack bowling “too many freebies.”
Quicks Tom Rogers and Kane Richardson (2-17 off four overs) each picked up a wicket with their first delivery, after Renegades raced to 0-21 off the first two overs.
West Indian spinner Akeal Hosein (2-18 off 4 ) playing in the first of just two BBL games for the Renegades, extracted significant turn from a receptive pitch.