Sydney: A spectator turnout of 12,285 at the Sydney Cricket Ground for the launch of the Big Bash League (BBL) may not have pleased Cricket Australia (CA) which has pumped in big money, especially since Sydney Sixers have given it a huge publicity.
The BBL launch paled in comparison to the Indian Premier League (IPL), though the trappings were all there. The old and the new Australian players mixed well to usher in a new era in Australian cricket, though some cricketers did not like the Twenty20 league timing when they were preparing for the Boxing Day Test against India.
Maybe, a better competition curtain-raiser would have been hurricane hitters Chris Gayle and David Warner coming out to open for the Sydney Thunder against champion spinner Shane Warne and the Melbourne Stars, rather than them performing before a 45,000-plus crowd Saturday night.
There was enough drama alright on the opening night as Sydney Sixers scored 140 for three to overhaul Brisbane Heat's 138 for eight with eight balls to spare.
Brett Lee produced a 140km/h thunderbolt that busted the nose of Brendon McCullum, former leg-spinner Stuart MacGill wound back the clock to take two wickets, and Steve Smith produced yet another sensational catch inside the boundary rope to prove why he is one of world cricket's best fielders, reports Herald Sun.
And Test keeper Brad Haddin cracked a rapid-fire 76 off 59 balls with five sixes and five fours to help the Sixers to a seven-wicket win over the Heat.
Lee dropped one in short to smash McCullum flush in the face. Seeing blood ooze from the nose, Lee rushed to his aid and indicated to the hut that McCullum needed help. The New Zealander returned to resume batting, but did not last much longer, becoming MacGill's first victim.
McCullum said he was embarrassed to have been forced to leave the field so early, but just as glad it was not all that serious.
The Heat did little to excite the fans and scored at a sluggish rate.
The 40-year-old MacGill, who only returned to park cricket this summer, looked sharp and drew praise from fellow veteran Matty Hayden.
MacGill kept one low to clean bowl Hayden (29 off 28 balls), who said of the tweaker: "It's a very slow wicket, so just that variation of leg spin was a really good option, and experience tells for everything, doesn't it? He's still got it hasn't he."
MacGill finished with 2-21 off four overs.
Brisbane failed to pick up the pace in the back half of their innings, and could only marvel at Smith's acrobatic efforts to remove Peter Forrest.
Fielding at long on, Smith leant back with his hands in the air, caught the ball only to realise his weight was going to carry him over the rope.
He quickly tossed the ball up, re-gained his balance and then jumped back into the field of play to claim the catch.