Jackson Bird shines in Stars' Big Bash victory
Test paceman Jackson Bird made an outstanding return from injury as the Melbourne Stars easily won their Big Bash League opener.
Bird was on a hat-trick, took 4-31 from his four overs and also helped execute a run out to help the Stars beat local rivals the Renegades by 76 runs on Friday night at the MCG.
The Renegades were dismissed for 132 in 17.3 overs.
It was Bird's first match at state level since injuring his back during the fourth Ashes Test in England earlier this year.
The Stars scored a team-record 7-208 and the Renegades were never in the hunt.
In the fourth over of the innings, Bird took two wickets in three balls and the Renegades were in massive trouble at 3-30.
Their danger man and captain Aaron Finch only made 32 before he fell to a superb outfield catch by David Hussey, leaving them in a hole at 4-44.
A 67-run stand from English all-rounder Jos Buttler and Peter Nevill took the Renegades to 4-111 in the 13th over and they were still in the hunt.
But Bird took their wickets in successive balls to kill off the challenge.
Buttler top-scored with 49 and Nevill made 25.
Bird's throw also helped run out Nathan Rimington for four.
Earlier, English all-rounder Luke Wright top-scored with 70 from 32 balls.
He and captain Cameron White set up the innings with an opening stand of 95.
White made 53, while spin-bowling great Muttiah Muralidaran impressed with 1-23 from four overs.
Renegades paceman Jayde Herrick left the field late in the Stars' innings with a side strain.
There was plenty of comment on Twitter about the shortened boundaries, which meant some mishits went for six.
"With the ropes in so far at the MCG for the T20, the bowlers are demanding twice the normal salary," tweeted former Test paceman Rodney Hogg.
Bird admitted to some nerves.
He had played some grade cricket in Tasmania and Melbourne, plus the Stars' warm-up games before Friday night.
"It's nice to play some cricket, but to get four wickets and get a win in the first game against the Renegades, it's definitely a good feeling," he said.
"There hasn't been that much cricket, but I've been bowling a lot in the nets, so I feel like they're coming out alright.
"I was a little bit apprehensive when I first got out there.
"But once I got that first over out of the way and then to get a couple of wickets in my second over, it calmed my nerves a little bit."
Finch said his team had no answer for the Stars' dominating performance.
"We were totally outplayed - batting, bowling, fielding," he said.
"It was one of those days where they were on and we were very, very off."