The battle for Ashes spots is back on as the Sheffield Shield returns from the year-long Big Bash, and it was a King Of The Ring style battle between the batsmen this week, mixed with a few bowlers coming in with steel chairs to take them out!
MOTM: Steve O’Keefe (NSW)
Cameron Bancroft played his first red ball match since Cape Town, and he instantly looked like Allan Border facing the West Indies. He got as much support as AB did, carrying his bat to 138 as WA limped to 279, with just three players reaching double figures.
The Blues ate it up as they declared on 8-477, led by centuries from Kurtis Patterson (134), backing up his maiden test century against Sri Lanka, and captain Peter Nevill (101*), although Liam O’Connor did his best with 5-131.
Needing to bat out the last day to at least get something from a pretty craptacular performance, WA’s middle order wet the bed again, as Bancroft once again had to drag the Warriors along, reaching an unbeaten 86 off 262 balls, before O’Keefe fooled him and he was stumped by Nevill. SOK finished off the tail and ended the match with 9 wickets, as the hosts won easily.
Bancroft faced a grand total of 621 balls for the match (4th most in Shield history), 28 short of Steve Waugh’s Shield record of 649 in 1996, and has now faced more balls than Hilton Cartwright this season, in just one match.
Speaking of Hilton, he did score an entrant for ‘Most Annoying Ways To Get Dismissed’ in the second innings, when smacked a ball straight into Nick Larkin’s helmet at square leg, which ended up sitting up for Jason Sangha to get him caught & bowled for 3 off a lazy 46 balls.
I’d still argue Peter Nevill getting run-out after Adam Zampa got falconed by a deflected shot which hit the stumps is the all-time leader.
Even with Bancroft back and playing like he’s worthy of forcing his way into an Ashes spot, the result for my beloved Sandgropers looked as ugly as the evidence against a leading Australian Catholic.
MOTM: Marcus Harris (Vic)
What the hell was Jimmy Peirson thinking? Setting a target of 299 and giving Victoria just short of a full day to chase it on a batsman’s pitch? Who gives a rat’s arse if it’s in the interests of forcing a result, the Bulls should have just batted out their innings and at the very least played for a draw. Complete stupidity, and it’s crap like that which has repercussions in a month’s time when the season ends.
Joe Burns was the pick of the Queenslanders with 60 and 80, and Nic Maddinson brought up another century with 108, but the real highlight of the match was Marcus Harris flaying the crap out of everything in both of the Victorian innings.
Falling just short of a ton with 95 in the first innings, Australia’s test opener dragged the hosts over the line in a match they never looked like winning until the final day, scoring an attacking 174 (He was dropped on 77 and 147) in a match winning 180-run partnership with Matt Short (60).
Although as a result of his late dismissal, Harris’ average for this season dipped to 95. Very disappointing Marcus, that should be enough to nudge you out of the Ashes squad.
MOTM: Jackson Bird (Tas)
B-b-b-bird bird Bird, B-Bird’s the word!
The Redbacks looked to be headed for a draw at home, before Jackson Bird and Tom Rogers triggered a massive collapse just before Tea, when Jake Weatherald was bowled for 150, which led to the hosts losing 6 for 3, including 4 wickets in 6 balls, allowing Tasmania to successfully chase down 110 in the last session. Hahaha, South Australia.
Jackson Bird ended up with total figures of 11-122, including a match winning 7-59 in the Redbacks’ second innings, while Matthew Wade played all-rounder, scoring 77 and taking a wicket. Bird now heads the leading wicketakers in the Shield for this season on the back of his performance.
For the hosts, Travis Head scored a pair of half-centuries, Ferguson hit 60 and Jake Weatherald got some form back with 150, although his wicket, as previously mentioned, ended up sparking a match-losing collapse.
Also, Tassie’s Charlie Wakim deserves a big mention, making his Shield debut at the age of 27, he notched up a magnificent 160, becoming the first player to hit a century on debut for Tasmania since Michael Bevan (2004).
If I ever start up the ‘James Podsiadly Mature Aged Rookie Award’, that’s a nomination.
TL:DR – BATSMEN HIT RUNS