Renegades heading ‘in the right direction’: Harper

Renegades heading ‘in the right direction’: Harper

They may have been staged by a star-studded Brisbane Heat team, but the Melbourne Renegades take comfort in knowing they are no longer the basement dwellers of the KFC BBL.

After three seasons in which they were anchored at the bottom of the table, losing 31 games out of 42, a clear focus on local experience and targeted recruitment of foreign players saw them return to the league for the first time since their BBL|08 crown finals returned.

Ultimately, their run to another fairytale title was cut short by an angry Heat side with three Australian stars in the top four, but the signs point to a sustained run in the playoffs for the Renegades.

Wicketkeeper batter Sam Harper was just 22 when he was part of that first BBL title in his first season with the club and has since been riding the waves while the Renegades have fallen from grace.

Pleased for the now 26-year-old gloveman, who has shown glimpses of his incredible 360-degree stroke game in the past, in the second half of the BBL | one of his most consistent T20 result streaks was 12, which included a new career-best 89 and three and a half centuries in his 264-run campaign.

Harper starts seven sixes in career-best 89

He also kept state captain Peter Handscomb away from the team for most of the season.

“Blow No. 3 there’s a bit of responsibility there and I turned 26 in this BBL so I’ve played five years now since we won them,” said Harper after her seven-wicket loss to the Heat.

“I think that excuse of being young and rising (with) potential is over now, it’s time to put in some good results for us.

“It’s been nice to be involved in a few games and I’ll definitely take a lot of that into next year.”

The key to their rise up the standings has been getting more out of their foreign recruits, which at least has been the case for the first half of the season with Andre Russell (101 runs and four wickets in four games), Mujeeb Ur Rahman (eight wickets on an austerity course of 6.63) and Akeal Hosein (13 on an austerity rate of 6.45).

And while that eased towards the end of the season when Martin Guptill (165 runs on 15) and Matthew Critchley took a while to settle down, Harper said they now had a core group of local players who would serve them well for those to come seasons.

“Over the next few months, the club will be happy with how the season has gone (after) the last few seasons haven’t gone our way,” he said.

“We’ve had some really good results overseas this year which was crucial for us especially early in the tournament and then Will Sutherland had a breakthrough year – although he’s doing really well in Shield cricket – that’s likely the T20 year where he really came through and showed what he can do.

“(Shaun Marsh) if he can keep his body together… he’s probably one of my favorite home players ever, he’s so much fun to play with.

“So if he can give us another six or seven games next year and as we saw (on Sunday) if we can reach the final and then get someone like him on our team, he’s just great for us.

Marsh turns back the clock with the decisive finale

“‘Richo’ (Kane Richardson), ‘Finchy’ (Aaron Finch), ‘Sos’ (Marsh), (Jon) Wells and Tommy Rogers (are) here next year so we have a really good core group.

“We now have quite different individual roles that Sakes (coach David Saker) gave us. I feel like we’re going in the right direction as a team, we probably just needed another 10 runs (against the heat).”

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