Awful Stars consigned to first wooden spoon

The Melbourne Stars are wooden spooners for the first time, and they found a new and exciting method of losing to mark the occasion.

Battling conjunctivitis, and a sore neck, Glenn Maxwell slammed the accelerator, batting his side into a winning position against the Sydney Sixers at the SCG on Tuesday night, posting 5-189 from their 20 overs. As things stand it would be hard to be confident about the Stars defending any total, so easy did the Sixers make things look.

A diving one-handed catch in the deep from Evan Gulbis removed Sixers opener Daniel Hughes for two, opening the door for a Nic Maddinson onslaught. He and Joe Denly set about taking to the Stars' attack, which bewilderingly didn't include dropped fast bowler Jackson Coleman.

It soon became clear that despite Maxwell's heroics, this - as has been the case in eight of their nine matches for the season - wasn't going to be the Stars' night.

The Sixers couldn't call on batsman Jordan Silk, who'd broken his collarbone in the field. Not that it impacted on the result. They gained irretrievable momentum when Maddinson hit James Faulkner for six straight boundaries in the fifth over. Maddinson was eventually trapped LBW by John Hastings for 61 from 26 balls, but that didn't stop Denly from steering the chase.

Along with Faulkner, Daniel Worrall and Liam Bowe - who also dropped Carlos Brathwaite in the deep - were both hammered, and breakthroughs were only breathers between runs of boundaries, rather than any sort of game-changer.

The end came with 15 balls to spare and five wickets in hand. It was ignominious, but on form, all you'd expect from the Stars.

While Maxwell was batting things had actually looked promising for the Stars.

They'd been sent in and for the umpteenth time fell into early trouble. Ben Dunk was bowled by Ben Dwarshuis for seven, with his tournament average plummeting to single digits, while Peter Handscomb's resurgence hit a roadblock after he was caught off the bowling of Brathwaite for eight.

But such is Maxwell's brilliance, he doesn't even need to be seeing with total clarity to destroy an opposition attack. This was the type of innings that will further enrage those who can't believe the national selectors dropped him from a one-day team struggling to make big enough scores.

Those selectors include coach Darren Lehmann, who was on hand to watch the match in the commentary box for Channel Ten.

With eyedrops being run out to him at regular intervals, Maxwell played a spellbinding innings, making 84 from 47, including seven fours and four sixes. This was despite twinging his neck mid-innings as he tried to play the switch hit off Nathan Lyon.

Much of the Maxwell arsenal was on show. Among the highlights were a pair of consecutive short balls from Sean Abbott, both violently dispatched to the long boundary at deep point.

Maxwell and recalled veteran Rob Quiney (36 from 23) put on 119 in less than 10 overs for the third wicket, which should have been enough for victory, even though Maxwell fell three overs from the innings' end when he was caught at deep cover to become Brathwaite's second scalp of the night.

However the Stars wasted a gilt-edged chance to make 200 for the first time this season. Yet again the biggest culprit Faulkner, who finished 21 not out from 17 balls, with just one boundary.

His tournament stats would suggest he's been auditioning for a spot as a one-day international anchor, not a Twenty20 finisher. He will be lucky to keep his spot for the team's final game of the season, at home to Hobart on Saturday.

It's supposed to be a farewell match for Pietersen, providing his back is right, and the Stars will be happy to give the last rites to this season, their "Bashus horribilis".

This story Awful Stars consigned to first wooden spoon first appeared on The Age.