Melbourne Stars captain Glenn Maxwell insists hindsight wouldn’t change his decision to bowl first in the KFC Big Bash final, instead blaming a slow start with the bat for their spectacular flop on the tournament’s biggest stage.
The Stars have made the finals in all but one of their eight BBL seasons, but their hunt for an elusive maiden title will go on after going down to the Melbourne Renegades following an astonishing collapse of 7-19.
Maxwell's counterpart Aaron Finch was adamant he would have batted first if he’d won the bat flip, citing the worn Marvel Stadium surface which he expected to get slower and more difficult to bat on as the game went on.
"It's come up really well," Finch said of the pitch on Fox Cricket after the toss. "The other night (in the Renegades semi-final win) there was quite a lot of dew on it towards the end which made it skid on a bit.
"I would have batted first if I'd won the toss. If anything, hopefully, it will start to get slower and lower and start to turn a little bit."
Finch's logic proved sound – while the Renegades slumped to 5-65 a little over halfway into their innings, Tom Cooper (43 not out off 35 balls) and Dan Christian (38 not out off 30) put on a brilliant 80-run stand to reach a competitive total.
Twelve overs into their chase, the Stars were cruising with openers Ben Dunk (57 off 45) and Marcus Stoinis (39 off 38) looking to be calmly guiding the visitors to a comfortable win.
The ensuing calamity saw the Stars' top seven batters all depart in the space of 29 balls.
While Maxwell didn't single out Stoinis or Dunk, he lamented the hole his side had dug themselves.
"With the way the game was going, the way they were throwing the ball into the ground and getting the ball soft, it was always going to be hard for a new batter," said Maxwell.
"You could sort of feel that on the boundary, we probably needed to kill the game a bit earlier, go a bit harder when the ball was hard and just get ahead of the rate.
"They bowled pretty well and kept us around seven and a half an over. As soon as you lose a wicket, that can really skyrocket as we saw it tonight.
"That's probably the way we would have gone about it (if they had been bowling) – we wouldn't have been too concerned with a team being none down, especially (because) we didn’t really get away at any stage."
Maxwell praised his bowlers, lauding them for keeping the Renegades to a sub-par tally and singling out spin twins Adam Zampa and Sandeep Lamichhane, who conceded just 39 runs between them from eight overs.
But the skipper stressed he wouldn't change his decision to bowl first if he had his time again, suggesting they could have been more aggressive with the bat when the ball was hard and new.
"I think those first 10 overs – we batted beautifully but I think we could have gone a bit harder, knowing what we had behind us," he continued.
"You can kill the game in the Power Play when you're only chasing 145 – 0-36 was great, we had 10 wickets in hand, but it was that sort of game. That's good in hindsight, it's nice to know now."
The loss will do nothing to dispel the 'floppers' tag that's been applied to the Stars given their record of making the finals and coming up short, with Maxwell suggesting they'll use the loss as further motivation in BBL09.
"This will probably drive us next year and we'll use it as motivation to go one step further," he said.
"We were so close, with eight overs (to go) we probably looked like winners. To fall that short is disappointing and it's hard to take.
"I'm sure once the dust settles and we get back to next year, we'll be able to put some more performances on the board with some more squad depth."