Perth Scorchers import Laurie Evans’ rollercoaster ride to BBL player-of-the-final performance
Big Bash final hero Laurie Evans has revealed he needed pain-killing injections before and during his player-of-the-match performance to help Perth Scorchers storm to a record fourth title.
The English T20 journeyman suffered a broken toe exactly a fortnight before his match-winning unbeaten 76 off 41 balls against Sydney Sixers at Marvel Stadium to cap off a finals campaign that nearly didn’t happen.
Coach Adam Voges detailed the “really tough decision” at the selection table between Evans, who missed the last regular-season match through injury, and young allrounder Aaron Hardie for last weekend’s qualifier final against the Sixers.
Experience prevailed in the end as Evans took the home a fourth player-of-the-final gong of his 199-game T20 career to justify his reputation as a big-game player.
“Laurie had a broken toe, we weren’t sure whether he was going to get up or not (for the qualifier final),” Voges recalled after Perth’s 79-run thrashing of their arch-rivals.
“Aaron Hardie is a great young player who has also had an impact in this tournament so it was a really tough decision.
“In the end we went for the experience, we think Aaron is going to be a wonderful player and he’s starting to improve every time he gets that opportunity.
“Laurie said to me tonight, I said ‘how many finals have you played in?’ and and he said ‘I’ve played in five’ and I left it at that and then he goes ‘and I’ve been man of the match in three of them’.
“I think he was quietly confident that he was going to be able to have an impact tonight and he certainly did that.”
Evans’ 101-run partnership with captain Ashton Turner in 59 balls was the game-changer, turning a disastrous 4-25 start into an above-par total of 6-171.
The pair hit eight fours and five sixes between them but their excellent running between wickets was also evident, despite Evans’ obvious setback.
In reply, the Sixers were rolled for just 92 in 16.2 overs.
“My toe is throbbing right now,” Evans said post-match.
“There was a period where ‘AT’ was like ‘two, two, two’ and I was like ‘no, it hurts too much’.
“We got it injected before the game and got it topped up half-way through. I’m not looking forward to tomorrow but hopefully the hangover will see me through.”
Voges said they did their homework before recruiting the 34-year-old, who has played all around the world from England to the Caribbean, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, but has never broken through to represent his country other than for England Lions.
Scorchers allrounder Ashton Agar, who played WA Premier Cricket with Evans at University seven years prior, also put in a good word.
It came after last year’s all-England opening combination of Liam Livingstone and Jason Roy told the franchise they weren’t coming back this summer because of a combination of scheduling and quarantine issues
“We’d spoken to a few people in England about him, we look at the numbers, we look at the footage, you take a punt,” Voges said.
“You don’t actually really know, and the longer Laurie’s been out here, the more we’ve learnt about him, his game and how he goes about it.
“He’s actually really suited to these types of wickets and as the tournament went on, he’s got better and better, played a couple of match-winning innings now and he saved his best for tonight.”
Evans is on a Saturday night flight back to the UK to see his wife Verity and two-year-old son Joshua, who he hasn’t seen since arriving in Australia in late November and missed both of their birthdays during that time in what he described as a dark period around Christmas.
He confirmed that he will put his hand up for the Indian Premier League auction, the one major T20 tournament left on his bucket list after ticking off the Big Bash.
But Evans, who finished with 361 runs for BBL11 at an average of 40.11 and strike rate of 144.4, including two half-centuries, is keen to return for a second summer in orange, believing he’s “still got more to give”.
Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.
Sign up for our emails