New Northants recruit Jackson Bird made an outstanding return from injury as the Melbourne Stars easily won their Big Bash League opener in Australia.
Australian Test star Bird was on a hat-trick, took four for 31 from his four overs and also helped execute a run-out to help the Stars beat city rivals Melbourne Renegades by 76 runs at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
The Renegades were dismissed for 132 in 17.3 overs.
It was Bird’s first match at senior level since injuring his back during the fourth Ashes Test in England earlier this year, and his return to fitness and form is encouraging news for County coach David Ripley.
The Stars scored 208 for seven and the Renegades were never in the hunt.
In the fourth over of the innings, Bird, who will be Northants’ overseas player for a large chunk of the 2014 season, took two wickets in three balls and the Renegades were in massive trouble at 30 for three.
Their danger man and captain, Aaron Finch, made only 32 before he fell to a superb outfield catch by David Hussey, leaving them in a hole at 44 for four.
A 67-run stand from English all-rounder Jos Buttler and Peter Nevill took the Renegades to 111 for four in the 13th over and they were still in the hunt.
But Bird took their wickets in successive balls to kill off the challenge.
Buttler top-scored with 49 and Nevill made 25.
Bird’s throw also helped run out Nathan Rimington for four.
Earlier, former Steelbacks T20 star Cameron White had done his bit with the bat, along with England’s Luke Wright.
Wright top-scored for the Stars with 70 from 32 balls, with skipper White, who opened the batting, making 53