Brisbane Heat 214 for 7 (Brown 140, McSweeney 33, Payne 2-17, Pope 2-39, Boyce 2-50) beat Adelaide Strikers 160 (Nielsen 50, Kelly 41, McSweeney 3-3, Johnson 3-20) by 54 runs
Heat will look to end an 11-year title drought when they face Sydney Sixers in Wednesday’s final at the SCG.
It was a strong bounceback from Heat, who had suffered a 39-run home defeat to Sixers in the Qualifier after finishing top of the table.
The in-form Strikers were left deflated after having entered the game with confidence after five straight victories capped by an upset road victory over defending champions Perth Scorchers in the Knockout.
After being routed for 113 by Sixers, Heat rejigged their batting order by picking opener Charlie Wakim for his season debut. Heat also reverted their tactics by electing to bat first in what proved a wise move on a surface that appeared better for batting than in the previous match.
After Wakim fell lbw in the second over off quick David Payne’s first ball, Brown took over by initially blasting sixes over midwicket off seamers Henry Thornton and James Bazley.
Strikers were rattled but looked to legspinners Boyce and Pope, who had proven an unstoppable tandem during Strikers’ winning streak. They had combined for seven wickets against a tentative Scorchers batting line-up at the pace-friendly Optus Stadium, but an aggressive Brown decided to take the aerial route in favourable conditions with little spin on offer.
Boyce leaked nine runs in his first over, and Pope fared even worse by conceding 14 when he entered the attack in the seventh over. Brown motored past his half-century in 22 balls and decided to take down Boyce and Pope before drinks. He smashed a trio of sixes in one over off Boyce, who had only been hit for eight sixes in ten previous matches this season.
Brown had shown glimpses of his muscular batting before but hadn’t quite put it together. In 21 previous BBL innings, he had only averaged 20.52 with one half-century. It all clicked into gear with Brown continually hitting over the covers with brute force as he eyed the fastest century in BBL history set ten years ago when Craig Simmons blasted a 39-ball century for Scorchers.
In the Challenger, Brown fell short of that mark, but on his 41st delivery he pummelled Boyce over the covers for his ninth six to reach a maiden BBL century. He looked like he might run out of steam in humid conditions, but continued to stand and deliver.
Glenn Maxwell’s BBL record of 154 not out was seriously under threat before Brown finally holed out in the 17th over as Heat fell away at the death.
Strikers’ late fightback gave them faint hope as the pressure fell on skipper Matthew Short to lead from the front. He started fast before holing out in the fourth over to Johnson, who two balls later dismissed opener D’Arcy Short.
The burden fell on in-form No. 3 Jake Weatherald, who came in averaging 183 with a strike rate of 192.62 in his last three games since becoming a late-season inclusion.
Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth