Shaun Marsh made an explosive return from injury to inspire Perth Scorchers to a 39-run win in the Big Bash Final, says Robert Croft.
The 30-year-old was overlooked for Australia's upcoming tour of South Africa, which begins with the Sky Live first Test on Wednesday, because of a calf injury.
But he proved his fitness by smashing 63no off 43 balls to power the Scorchers to 191-4, a total that featured 37 off 12 balls from his brother Mitchell Marsh and 45 from the inexperienced Craig Simmons, whose full-time job lies outside cricket with electricity operator Western Power.
"Once I knew [Shaun] Marsh was playing I just felt that the confidence of the whole team would lift," said Croft. "He doesn't play on ego and he's a very, very calm and quiet individual in the dressing room, but he doesn't get caught up in the moment.
"At the start he gave a lot of the strike to Simmons, but he made sure he paced his innings. When the situation dictated he went through the gears and then towards the end he was explosive with his brother.
"He was the reason why the Scorchers could build such a big innings because they always had one end sorted. He came in and he played beautifully in a massive match.
"At the other end Simmons stood there and delivered; he's a bit more cultured than a slogger because his head is in a very still position, and he's obviously got terrific hand-eye co-ordination.
"But I was very disappointed with the way that the Hurricanes bowled at him; they should have stuck a lot more deliveries up around his chin or at shoulder height and made him play more cross-bat shots instead of allowing him to hit down the ground.
"This guy isn't a house-hold name; he's only played a handful of first-class matches. He's a boy from nowhere and I think it's a great message for everyone."
The Hurricanes kept up with the required rate but at the cost of two of their biggest batting threats, openers Ben Dunk and Tim Paine, who fell to seamer Jason Behrendorff (2-24) for 17 and seven respectively.
Although skipper George Bailey weighed in with 58 off 32 balls, the chase faltered as Alfonso Thomas (2-23) and veteran spinner Brad Hogg (2-17) chipped away.
"A target of 192 was too big an ask for the Hurricanes, particularly after Behrendorff took out Dunk and Paine," said Croft.
"They are the guys who pretty much got the Hurricanes to this situation but Behrendorff was a real threat; he's awkward, he's gangly, he gets swing and bounce and he's difficult to line up.
"When you've got to go at the best part of 10-an-over from the outset, you don't have an opportunity to play yourself in and the game was gone.
"At 75-2 after 10 overs you might think they were slightly ahead of the game because at that point the Scorchers were 72-1 but looking down the Hurricanes line-up they didn't quite have the strength in depth to continue going at that rate.
"I think the Hurricanes had played their final against the Stars in the semi-finals. It was always going to be a tough team because when you match the two teams up the Scorchers are so far ahead.
"I just felt that this was a stage too far for them as they'd done their bit and got through to the Champions League final."
Hogg came into the attack with the Hurricanes on 42-2 off six overs and Croft credited the 43-year-old for making his experience tell.
"It was the perfect time for him to bowl with all of his skills and experience, with 191 runs on the board and knowing that the batsmen have got to take you on," he added.
"He mixed up his quicker deliveries and his slower ones, his leg-spinners and top-spinners, his googlies. Doing it from over the wicket it really does cramp the batsmen.
"If at the age of 43 you don't know what you are going to do in that situation with 191 on the board, you never are.
"I think he might well go on for another couple of years. Playing Twenty20 cricket around the world is quite lucrative! Bowling spin he can go on for a long time because a lot of a spinner's work is done in his head, not through your body."
Watch highlights of the Big Bash Final at 5pm on Friday on Sky Sports 4.