Apprentice power-line worker Craig Simmons has become a dark horse for next week’s IPL auction after his second blazing hundred this Big Bash League season piloted Perth into the Champions League.
The Scorchers opener smashed a record ton off 39 balls last month against Adelaide, and on Wednesday night at the SCG, in the pressure of a BBL semi-final, he backed it up with a match-winning 112 off 58 in Perth’s dramatic five-run win over the Sydney Sixers.
Simmons works full time fixing power lines for Western Power, but he may have to ask his employers to extend his leave even longer, after earning a place in the IPL auction taking place on February 12.
However, there is one concerning twist in Simmons’ fairy tale rise from club cricket to the global stage – the powerful left-hander is in some doubt for Friday’s final against Hobart at the WACA after straining his groin during his innings.
“I’m worried but it’ll take a bit more than a strain to keep me off the park on Friday,” said Simmons.
The six-hitting specialist’s IPL stakes should have risen even higher after he cleared the fence 11 times, to finish with a BBL-high 19 bombs for the tournament.
Incredibly, Simmons started his innings in a deep hole with just six runs off 16.
He made up for lost time by slogging his next 94 off 37 balls – his second 50 coming up in just 16 deliveries.
The only century-maker all season in the BBL proved he was more than a one-hit-wonder, with the equal second biggest score in the competition’s history.
Before his two hundreds, Simmons had never even passed 50 in a Twenty20 match.
“If you can do it once you’d like to think you can do it again,” Simmons said.
“To back it up again tonight’s an even better feeling.
“I’m in the IPL auction. If I can keep making runs that’s all I can do.”
Born down the road from the SCG in Paddington, Simmons moved to WA when he was 10 because of his father’s work in the navy.
After making his first-class debut for the Warriors in 2003, the journeyman has been back and forth between Sydney and Perth, struggling to make it out of grade cricket.
At 31 years of age he was given a chance by the Scorchers and two explosive innings later shapes as the key man to break their two-year run of losing BBL finals.
“The game is all about opportunity and he’s got one and he’s taken it,” said Sydney skipper – but Simmons’ long-time WA stablemate, Marcus North.
“He might be a surprise packed in the IPL auction after tonight.
“When a guy is clearing fieldsmen at will … hitting it 10 rows back on the on and off side … it’s pretty hard to stop.”
Make your contribution to independent news
A donation of any size to InDaily goes directly to helping our journalists uncover the facts. South Australia needs more than one voice to guide it forward, and we’d truly appreciate your contribution. Please click below to donate to InDaily.