by Niall Seewang
BEN ROHRER was almost a forgotten hero last week when Aaron Finch inspired the Melbourne Renegades to a stunning win against the Melbourne Stars in the opening game of the BBL|02 season.
While Finch's pyrotechnics (111 not out off 65 balls) quite rightly stole the headlines, Rohrer also played a crucial role as the Renegades marched to the top of the table after round one.
The inventive and powerful left-hander belted 34 not out off 20 deliveries coming in at No.4 and Rohrer says it was a performance that justified his departure from BBL|01 title holders the Sydney Sixers.
"I played with the Sixers last year and batted at six or seven most of the time, coming in during the last few overs, and I guess I was pigeon-holed as a finisher," he told melbournerenegades.com.au ahead of Friday's clash against the Sydney Thunder at ANZ Stadium.
"A big part of coming down here was to have the opportunity to bat higher up the order. That's a real test and a challenge I wanted, so to perform well in the first game of the year was nice, and something I want to build on."
Rohrer's message of building on the fantastic derby win is something burning within the entire Renegades squad, which will be boosted by the inclusion of one of the world's best T20 players – Marlon Samuels.
The big-hitting right-hander will join the Renegades in red-hot form. He recently capped a brilliant international tour of Bangladesh with a man-of-the-match performance for the West Indies in a one-off T20 clash in Mirpur.
Samuels crashed 85 not out from just 43 balls to lead his side to an 18–run victory, with the 31 year-old’s innings including nine sixes, with his final 58 runs coming from only 19 deliveries.
Samuels, who also bowls handy off-spin, has been in prolific form over the past 12 months, with his tour of Bangladesh including a career-high 260 in the second Test in Khulna and match-winning 126 in the third one-day international in Dhaka.
Samuels was also man-of-the-match in the ICC World T20 final, where he belted 78 off 56 to lead the West Indies to theirfirst international title in over 30 years.
Rohrer said the inclusion of Samuels would be a massive boost for the Renegades.
"Marlon is in very good form – hopefully he brings that form to Australia," he said.
"He's a class player and one of the best batsmen in the game at the moment. He can also bowl pretty well - and the Thunder have a few lefties, so he and 'Murali' might do well with them – and he can also field beautifully.
"He's an all-round class package."
While Samuels could be the match-winner for his new team, a fellow West Indian looms as a major threat for the Thunder – Chris Gayle.
The Thunder had a disappointing first game of the BBL|02 season, going down by seven wickets to the in-form Sixers at the SCG, but Gayle will add much-needed aggression and power at the top of the order.
Rohrer said the Renegades had to be wary of the star left-hander, adding a second consecutive win would be a massive boost to the squad.
"Gayle is obviously a huge player – if we can get him out early it will be very handy," he said.
"They [the Thunder] were a bit disappointing the other night but I'm sure they'll come out stronger on Friday.
"But we took an enormous amount of confidence from beating the Stars. It was a great win but we don't want to fall in a hole – we have to ensure it wasn't a one-off performance.
"We've focussed on that all week."
The Melbourne Renegades play the Sydney Thunder at SYdney's ANZ Stadium on Friday 14 December from 7pm.