We have woken up in Opposite World.
Tim Paine scores a first class century, David Warner scores a century to save his team’s innings, and Steve Smith is being sent quacking by Americans.
This is like the Seinfeld episode where Elaine meets Bizarro Jerry, George, Kramer and Newman.
Sheffield Shield Round 1
New South Wales (9/288 and 5/134) defeated Queensland (153 & 268) by 5 wickets @ Woolloongabba
POTM: Harry Conway (NSW)- 5/17 and 5/39
A star-studded match in Brisbane, as the likes of Mitchell Starc, Steve Smith, Dave Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus LaBouchechampagne, Joe Burns, and Matthew Renshaw all made an appearance… and basically all of them except Marnus had some form of a struggle.
The Bulls batted first, always a safe option at the Gabba in Shield cricket of late, and they were promptly put to the sword by the Cockroach bowling attack, with Renshaw (19) and Burns (13) going cheaply, Khawaja being trapped for 1, and Charlie Hemphrey going for 3.
Only another customary half century from Marnus Loosebuschange (69, nice) got the hosts to 3 digits, as they were dismissed for 153, with Harry Conway taking 5/17 as he tore through the tail.
And yet, the Bulls being picked apart wasn’t the most stunning thing on Day 1 of the Shield season.
The lanky Yankee, Cameron ‘The Cannon’ Gannon, did what a supposed world class attack couldn’t do for an entire Ashes series…. and dismissed Steve Smith for a 5-ball duck.
I’m not kidding by the way- He played 4 T20Is for the Seppos against Bermuda in August.
This will go down as the most unlikely display of briliance committed by an American in Australian sport since Mason Cox played a randomly great game in a Preliminary Final against a Richmond team who were morals to go back to back in 2018.
Backing it up, Gannon also removed Hughes and Henriques (For a duck) to end Day 1 with 3/17.
With the Blues struggling at 4/54, Warner became the unlikely key to saving the innings alongside Nick Bertus, in what was also Warner’s first appearance in a first class game in Australia since the New Year’s Test of 2018
In a very welcome turn of events, he played as if he’d never visited England in the past 6 months, and punched out one of the more unlikely tons on a tough batting deck.
The pair would post a 147 run partnership to rocket the Blues to a handy 48 run lead, which ended with Warner’s dismissal for 125, and Bertus would reach his half-century a short time later, and was quickly dismissed for 53.
Some handy contributions from the tail (Conway dispatched Gannon for 13 off the last over) pushed the Blues to 9/288 before bad light ended play early on Day 2, and then the rain hit on Saturday and took out a good chunk of the opening session of Day 3, and Peter Nevill declared with a 135 run lead, as Gannon finished with 5/90, and Michael Neser with 2/56.
The Queenslanders began slowly, as Renshaw was trapped LBW for 12, Khawaja went for 24, but Joe Burns posted a half-century in a solid 66-run partnership with South African Steve Smith, before Burns was gone for 52 with the hosts just short of gaining the lead, which they did soon after… as Hemphrey was caught behind for 6.
They would eventually reach stumps at 5/186, a lead of just 51, with Labuschagne just shy of another half century on 48, with Jimmy Peirson up the other end.
Peirson farmed most of the early strike on the final day, until he managed to be clean bowled for 33 after misjudging a delivery from Trent Copeland.
Labuschagne reached another half-century before Mitch Starc got him edging through to Nevill, and with a low chase looking likely, Gannon and Neser had to do their best to save the Banana Benders with the bat instead of the ball, putting on 48 for the 8th wicket, until Neser was claimed for 36 by Warner off the bowling of Conway, who ended the innings on a hat-trick to claim another ‘Pfeiffer’ of 5/39, and he was quite comfortably the pick of the bowlers, as Starc noticeably struggled with the red ball, only taking 1 wicket for the match.
134 the target for the visitors, who immediately put themselves in more shit than Bill Clinton sharing a room with a White House intern.
Warner’s continued his wild run on the first ball of the innings, edging a ball from Neser to Khawaja in the slips, and the Blues would suffer yet another top order collapse, as Smith fell for 21, Henriques for 8, Larkin for 7, and Bertus went for a 2 ball duck, leaving the visitors reeling at 5/53, with Neser taking 3 wickets and Big Billy Stanlake taking 2.
Hilarious scenes really, as the Bulls, through all their struggles with the bat, were a seriously realistic chance of pulling off an improbable win.
Opener Dan Hughes somehow survived the carnage, and was left with Nevill to settle down the innings, which they duly did, as Hughes scored an unbeaten 66, and the Blues got the job done without losing any more wickets, being the only state to get an outright win on the weekend.
So out of it all, Mitchell Starc looked average, Steve Smith didn’t give two shits, Michael Neser improved his stocks, and the curious case of Dave Warner goes on- He scores a hard-earned century on a very tough wicket… and then he has a Stuart Broad enduced bout of PTSD.
Victoria (6/616d) drew with South Australia (6/671) @ The Junction Oval
MOTM: Tom Cooper (SA)- 271* off 347
Wow, I didn’t realise the Andrews Government had invested in a new highway project in Victoria, and named it the Junction Oval.
11/1143 after 3 days, and then 12/1287 off 336 overs by the close of play.
Q: How do you spell ‘Road’?
A: J-U-N-C-T-I-O-N O-V-A-L
The ICC gave the MCG pitch for the 2017 Boxing Day Test a ‘Poor’ rating.
I suspect that they’d give that Junction Oval a rating of ‘Worse than Shane Warne’s attempt at hosting a talk show’.
The early signs the pitch was a tad flat came when Marcus Harris and Nic Maddinson both laid down an early marker for the selectors, as they both posted centuries by Tea on Day 1, with Harris bringing his century up (The first of the Shield season) by dispatching Adam Zampa for 6 down the ground in the 51st over.
Maddinson also reached his 4th ton in 6 Shield games for the Vics, as Harris would be dismissed for 116, while Maddo and his porn star ‘stache powered on to their best First Class score, reaching stumps on an unbeaten 195, and when play resumed on Day 2, he brought up his double century, and was eventually dismissed for 224 attempting to cut Kane Richardson… straight through to Alex Carey.
The slaughter wasn’t finished, as Will Pucovski chipped in with what will be a forgotten century, Aaron Finch posted 57 off 44 balls, Glenn Maxwell hit 43 off 30, and eventually, the Vics showed some mercy and declared on 616, having batted South Australia out of any chance of an outright win.
Tom Andrews was the only bowler with multiple wickets… with 2/130.
It seemed to be a fleeting mercy, because Jake Weatherald edged a James Pattinson delivery straight to Maxwell in the gully off the first ball of the South Australian innings, and Jake Lehmann went for 8, putting the Vics right on top at 2/23.
As it turned out, they were the only two batsmen to be dismissed for single figures in the match, which says more about their ineptitude than the pitch.
Travis Head came to the crease and joined opener Henry Hunt, and they would add 95 until Hunt’s dismissal for 75, which brought Tom Cooper to the crease, where he would spend the remainder of the match, first adding another 66 with Head, who reached his half-century, and then tried belting Maxwell into next year, only to get a massive edge straight to Handscomb at slip, bringing in Alex Carey.
Carey and Cooper were together for only 35 overs, but in the process, they staved off the threat of the follow-on, and batted the Vics out of an outright win, stacking on 207 off 215 balls, as Carey smashed out a damn impressive 117 off 115, featuring 23 boundaries.
Carey was finally dismissed when he somehow flashed at a Chris Tremain delivery outside his off stump, which somehow hovered straight into the waiting arms of Maxwell at mid-off.
Andrews thus came in with the score at 5/392, and the Croweaters kept plundering away towards 500 on that Princes Highway of a pitch, ensuring the match progressed towards an inevitable draw, causing Peter Handscomb to crack the shits and accuse Head and the Croweaters of not lying down and handing the match and the points to the almighty Victorians (This is slightly embellished).
NOT A GOOD REFLECTION?
HEY PETER, DIDN’T YOUR TEAMMATES BAT FOR 150 OVERS AND SCORE 616, AND YET SOMEHOW, THE OTHER TEAM ARE THE ONES NOT PLAYING FOR A RESULT?
Bloody typical whinging Pricktorian if you ask me.
Just to rub more shit in Petey’s face, Cooper and Andrews kept batting through the last day, as Andrews reached his maiden century (With the bat this time), and then immediately popped a Maxwell delivery straight to sub fielder Matt Short, as the Redbacks took the outright lead- Not that it mattered- And Cooper passed 250.
Eventually, after batting for some 186 overs in 2 days, the visitors were done laughing, and decided that enough was enough, and an outright result wasn’t possible, which in all honesty, was expected as early as Lunch on Day 3- They finished on 6/671, their 3rd-best Shield score in recorded history, and their biggest in 30 years.
So as a result of batting on that highway, Cooper, by virtue of his unbeaten 271, now has a higher First Class top score than esteemed batsmen like Steve Smith, Ricky Ponting, Virat Kohli, Sachin Tendulkar, and Jason Gillespie.
Absolutely nothing further to add, outside of multiple batsmen using the conditions to rack up more questionable scores than Barry Bonds setting almost every home run record in Major League Baseball while absolutely not using illegal PEDs.
Western Australia (337 & 9/383d) drew with Tasmania (397) @ The WACA
MOTM: Jackson Bird (Tas)- 3/51 and 5/87
IT HAS HAPPENED.
TIM PAINE HAS SCORED HIS SECOND CENTURY IN FIRST CLASS CRICKET.
For a rough guide, the year was 2006, and with the Pura Cup still in action, the actual Sheffield Shield was somewhere in the Melbourne Cricket Club dining room.
And I thought the most interesting fact from this fairly even match was going to be lunch being called early on Day One… because the air condition unit at the back of the pavillion caught fire.
Wouldn’t have happened if it was a Fujitsu… Tubby Taylor told me it was Australia’s Favourite Air.
WA elected to bat first, and plenty of Sandgropers got starts, but none really went on with it- Mitch Marsh, Josh Philippe and Josh Inglis were all out in the 40s- And the only one who got past 50 was Marcus Stoinis, who stopped looking at his tree trunk arms the mirror for 5 minutes, to grind out 61.
Sam Rainbird had an absolute stinker, struggling to 1/86, and bowling 11 no balls (Out of 14 for the team), and the Tasmanians conceded a grand total of 39 extras, while the WA tail had a good wag, putting on 118 for the last 4 wickets, eventually being all out for 337 just before stumps on Day 1.
Jackson Bird was the pick of the bowlers with 3/51, with Riley Meredith also picking up 3/78, and Lawrence Neil-Smith on his First-Class debut claimed 3/81.
After surviving a few overs before stumps, the Tasmanians appeared to suffer the same problem as the West Aussies on Day 2, with several players getting starts without going on with it- Jordan Silk and Matty Wade were both dismissed on the 40s- And there was also the annoying problem of light rain throughout Friday afternoon, which caused a few interruptions, as Caleb Jewel and Tim Paine were at the crease all the way through to stumps.
5/217 at stumps, with things still pretty evenly poised, with Jewell pushing towards a half-century on 41, and Paine on 18.
The duo kept the scoring going as Day 3 began, with Jewell bringing up a half-century before being claimed by Joel Paris for 52, and then the Sandgropers hit two birds with one stone, as Rainbird and Bird went cheaply, leaving the Tasmanians at 8/281, still 56 runs short, but crucially, Paine had passed his half-century, and as it turned out, Neil-Smith was
They just kept on going, and going, and going, to the point that Tassie took the lead, and shortly after, the Australian captain provided the highlight of the match, by ending a 13 year drought, and somehow, scoring a First-Class ton!
Funnily enough, that other century way back in ’06 was also at the WACA… when he scored 215.
Paine and Neil-Smith hammered on 111 for the 9th wicket, until the Paine stopped for WA when he was finally brought to an end on 121, when Richardson got him playing his Achilles heel- The mistimed pull shot.
After looking like they’d be facing a deficit, the Tigers were all out for 397 thanks to their skipper, the Glorified Cheerleader, who claimed “It means nothing to me”, most likely because the match was still up for grabs.
It’s worth noting that Neil-Smith, solid debut continued, finishing unbeaten on 39.
If WA did have to defend a total, they’d have to do it without Joel Paris, who did something to his hamstring.
With a 60 run lead, the Tigers had the claws out big time, especially when Bird claimed Bancroft first ball of the 2nd Innings, followed by Neil-Smith trapping Whiteman LBW for 18, but the momentum swung once again when the Marsh brothers were brought together, with Shaun and Mitch reaching half centuries in a 112 run partnership to stumps, as the West Aussies were 2/148, and leading by 88.
Bird sprouted wings on the last day, claiming Mitch on the first over of the day for 53, which apparently that pissed off Mitch so much, that he somehow hurt his right hand punching a wall in frustration, and with his luck, will probably miss the next 3 months.
You silly boy Mitch- You clearly should’ve smashed a window instead.
Shaun pushed on until he was dismissed for 85, Stoinis cracked another half-century by launching a rocket over the leg side boundary, Josh Inglis had posted 40, Ashton Agar was plonking away, and at 6/298, the West Aussies were looking pretty safe for a draw.
Bird was given the new ball in the 87th over and proceeded to eviscerate the tail, taking 3 wickets in the 93rd over (Inglis + Greene and Richardson for ducks) to give Tassie a hope of having around 40 overs to chase 240, as Bird recorded his 17th 5-wicket haul.
BUT, they would never get beyond hope, as Agar and an injured Joel Paris (With Bancroft as a runner) managed to put on 84 for the last wicket, batting all the way up until just before Tea, with WA declaring with a lead of 323, as Agar finished on an unbeaten 76.
Given the circumstances, both teams came to their senses, and agreed a result wasn’t possible.
Going back to Mitch Marsh, it’s good to see he’s firmly committed himself to going down the Ben Stokes route, just as Tim Paine hoped he would.
Now that he’s broken his hand punching a dressing room wall, next thing you know, he’ll get carted for 4 sixes in the last over of a World T20 game, and then punch out a homophobe in a street fight.
Funny coincidence- A player was dismissed first ball of an innings in all 3 games this week.
Dave Warner (2nd innings for NSW), Jake Weatherald (1st innings for SA), Cameron Bancroft (2nd innings for WA).