The ball is short and wide, but it’s not as short and wide as you think. D’Arcy Short has arched his back, making him lower and closer to leg. He has forced the ball to be short and wide, as he has slapped an uppercut. The ball flies over backward point for six.
It’s Short’s first real six on the off side this year. He’s leading the Big Bash League in sixes. He is six runs away from Shaun Marsh’s all-time BBL record of 412 runs. Marsh made his in nine games, at a strike rate of 128.
This season, Short has made 406 runs from 254 balls, at a strike rate of 160, from six games. On Wednesday, he broke the BBL record score with 122 not out.
In the last over of Hurricanes’ innings, Short played and missed at the first ball, he top-edged over the keeper’s head for six. Then he hit the next ball 97 metres, and the next one 86. Six, six, six.
There was a fight for Short. Hurricanes thought they’d signed him, Perth believed he’d committed to them, Cricket Australia decided that Hurricanes was his team. Last year, that looked annoying for Perth as Short started with 61 from 29. In another game at Bellerive Oval, he put a ball on the roof, but it felt like it was hit out of Tasmania. He made another 60 that night. But Short’s early impact slowed, and by the end of the year, he only made 198 runs at 25, despite striking at 163.
A similar thing happened with Short’s career, he was once a promising junior, still playing in Northern Territory until he was 19. After going to Western Australia in his early 20s, he played in the futures league for Western Australia. He also played Imparja cricket, as Short is an indigenous Australian. But then he lost his way for a few years. WA coach Justin Langer told him to lose weight (he lost 15 kilograms) and take cricket seriously. His cricket looks pretty damn serious now.
That’s because while he was decent and exciting last year, this season he’s scored 34, 15, 97, 96 and 42 coming into the game against the Heat. Short has gone from being a forgotten journeyman to the hottest unsigned prospect, then to the most destructive force in the Big Bash in a season and a half. He’ll be bigger than Elvis by this time next year if his career keeps going like this.
Wednesday night was pure showbiz.
Do you want to hear about the over he hit three straight boundaries from backward point to cover? It didn’t seem to matter that the field was packed there.
Two top-edged sixes over the keeper’s head, both of them seemed as powerful as any controlled shot. Short’s hands go so quickly through the ball that for an edge to find a fielder seems lucky.
The one time an edge from Short stayed inside the field, it went higher than any building in Brisbane. Joe Burns got under it, but it’s re-entry into earth’s atmosphere was too much, and he dropped it. By this point Short was already 60 off 36, he would go on to more than double it.
When the Powerplay ended, Hobart were 56, at 9.3 an over, both the other two batsmen were scoring at slower than a run-a-ball, Short 36 from 17. When Wade and Short’s 50-run partnership came up, Wade had 12. On the microphone Heat captain, Brendon McCullum, joked about getting him off strike.
Instead, Short faced more than half the balls. And you got a real show of what kind of batsman he was. A flat bat four over mid-on – that was unnecessarily vicious – meant McCullum changed the field, bringing up the third man. So next ball, Short backed away to a full straight ball to score another boundary through backward point. He was brutal and smart. And he’d been told by Gary Kirsten to bat long into the innings, and he batted right to the end.
Then he came on to bowl. Fast, reasonably accurate left-arm wristspin, which has probably been under-used this season, but it’s quite the extra bow. Short dismissed the Heat’s top-scorer, Sam Heazlett, with a straight ball. He took 1 for 20, and never went for a boundary, which is huge in a high-scoring game. Short thinks he could be a potential allrounder. At the rate he improves, no one would bet against him. He batted the entire innings, bowled all four overs, he even had to wait for a lost Tasmanian scribe for his presser, and still went off to sign autographs. He seemed to be on the field for five hours, all of it was entertaining.
When he was 13, Short played baseball. To be fair, he plays baseball now, we just call it cricket. Short’s activity rate (percentage of balls he scores from) is 65%, Despite all the runs he has scored, it’s not that high. But he hits a boundary every 4.3 deliveries., fourth best in the BBL.
In 75% of his first innings’, he strikes quicker than the match run-rate. In the Powerplays, worldwide over the last two years, he’s the eighth quickest. If you bowl straight, he can pick you up, whip you, or muscle you. Outside off stump he will go straight, or create more room, and fielding at point to him is like being a victim.
There was a moment where he played and missed three times from Mark Steketee slower balls. It was the only time he didn’t score from three consecutive deliveries. After the third miss, Short walked away and took a breath. Maybe, just maybe, it is slower balls that bother him. CricViz has data on balls from seamers that they consider to be slower balls, Short averages 44 and strikes at 214 against these balls.
Whether the next ball was slower or not, Short aimed to hit it over the fence and down a flight of stairs. Hurricanes players not called Short struck the ball at a strike rate of 94, Short went at 177.
Then there’s Short against legspin.
For three seasons of the BBL, legspin was practically not bowled in the Powerplay. Then Samuel Badree turned up for the Heat, and over the two previous seasons, 29 overs of legspin were bowled in the Powerplay, and Badree bowled 25 of them.
This season, 21 overs of legspin have been bowled in the Powerplay, despite the fact Badree isn’t playing. Players like Adam Zampa haven’t ever bowled early, now they do. In the 2014-15 season, no overs were bowled by them in Powerplays. This season, seven different legspinners have bowled.
This all matters because Short doesn’t smash legspin. Against spin, he strikes at a respectable 131, but it’s 147 against offspin, and 128 against legspin. On Wednesday, he faced 21 balls of legspin; he scored 27 runs off it. That makes it 128, again.
And while he is slower versus spin, he averages 66. Spin slows him down, but doesn’t get him out. Against quicks, he strikes at 36 while averaging 179.
So that means every time he hits a legspinner, you notice it.
Mitchell Swepson is containing Short pretty well, he’d taken his edge once, and certainly one of the few bowlers to slow him down. Then he tries to slide one in around leg stump, it’s a pretty decent delivery.
Short moved inside the line late, deciding to sweep over short fine leg. He cleared short fine leg, and put the ball into the crowd. It wasn’t a top edge, and it wasn’t just behind square on the leg side. Short managed to sweep a legspinner flat and hard for six to fine leg. How he got that kind of speed and elevation so fine from a bowler this slow is a mystery better worked out by science.
It would have been one of the most remarkable shots you had seen, unless you had been watching him this season, or even last season. This was just another six; Short hits a lot of them.