The call to drop Kumar Sangakkara from the Hobart Hurricanes starting lineup for the match against Sydney Thunder on Sunday (January 8) night made big news, with Ben McDermott slotted in to make his Big Bash League debut in place of the former Sri Lanka captain.
Damien Wright, the Hurricanes coach, took the unexpected decision to slot McDermott, son of former Australian paceman Craig, in place of the veteran Sri Lankan, and while the 22-year-old did well batting at No. 3, his team lost the match by six wickets at Bellerive Oval in Hobart.
McDermott, batting at Sangakkara’s No. 3 position, slammed 31 from 21 balls, with four fours and a six, before being run out after a mix-up with George Bailey, who top-scored for the team with 69 not out in 54 balls as they made 161 for 8. The target was overhauled in 16.5 overs as Shane Watson hit 55 from 31 balls, and James Vince chipped in with 44 from 28.
“It was nice to be out there but just a bit of a shame to get out like that,” said McDermott of his effort, before saying about Sangakkara, “He’s a great player, but I’m really grateful to get the opportunity.”
Bailey blamed himself for the loss, saying he wasted too many balls in getting his runs, and also took the responsibility for McDermott’s dismissal. “I thought I wasted too many balls and I ran out the bloke (McDermott) who was hitting it the cleanest out of anyone in our group,” he said after the match. “I thought it (his own knock) was an awful innings and I was pretty angry. I’m still pretty angry about it. I think it was one of the main reasons we lost the game.”
McDermott, a specialist batsman and occasional wicketkeeper, has come up through the age-group levels of Queensland cricket, having turned out at the Under-17s, Under-19s and Under-23s over the years. His father, one of Australia’s best pacemen, played 71 Tests between 1984 and 1996 for 291 wickets, while 138 One-Day Internationals netted him 203 wickets.
Sangakkara, 39, with 5759 Twenty20 runs to his name from 225 matches, was dropped after making 68 runs from five innings this season, with a top score of 22. And McDermott’s success in his maiden game could mean a bit more time out for the champion cricketer.
Hurricanes now have two victories from six matches and need to win their final two fixtures for a chance of making the top four. They next play Melbourne Renegades on Thursday.