The Sheffield Shield: Round 2
New South Wales (364 & 2/46) defeated Tasmania (268 & 140) by 8 wickets @ Drummoyne Oval
POTM: Mitchell Starc (NSW)- Match Figures of 10-60.
SCG, Drummoyne Oval, it didn’t make two shits worth of difference where the game was, because the Blues still had the core of an Australian test team… and Tasmania had Tim Paine.
Taking a 10fer and being named Man of the Match wasn’t enough for Harry Conway to stay in this New South Welsh side, finding himself flicked for Gary the GOAT and the Emperor of Pune, Stephen O’Keefe, and Kurtis Patterson also returned from a few nagging injuries, and joining Conway on the sidelines was Nick Larkin and Nick Bertus, who was a sitting duck, considering Google doesn’t even have a profile picture of him.
The Tasmanians also dropped George Bailey, and Jackson Bird couldn’t play, so he could join his wife in hatching the egg he planted 9 months ago.
Matty Wade won the toss and elected to bat, and the Two-Headers actually started reasonably well, as Silk and Doolan put on a 100-run opening partnership, as the Blues suffered a body blow when Patterson re-injured his quad chasing a ball to the rope in the 25th over, which left him unable to bat at No.4.
Silk was dismissed for 41 with an edge to Copeland at first slip off the bowling of Sean Abbott, and 4 overs later, Doolan went for 59 in the same circumstances.
Wade went for 20 after popping a Starc delivery to Steve O’Keefe, which left Beau Webster with Ben McDermott, and the pair put on 75 for the 4th wicket, aided by Steve Smith putting McDermott down on 24 off Gary Lyon.
Lyon would eventually get his man for 38, when McDermott skied one a mile high, straight down Peter Nevill’s gullet.
Webster progressed to his half-century, as Starc took out Caleb Jewell for 10 with an unbeatable reverse-swinging yorker which was plumber than plumb LBW, and Abbott made Tim Paine single-handidly regret taking what looked like an easy single just before stumps, as he chased down the ball, made the clean pick-up, and before you knew it, had stranded Webster high and dry with a direct hit for 65.
Marvellous cricket indeed, as the Tasmanians made it to stumps at 6/258, but would only add another 10 runs the next morning, as Starc cleaned up the tail with the final 3 wickets to finish up with 5/40.
David Warner’s struggles continued, as he made just 1 off 15 balls, but Dan Hughes and Smith laid a solid foundation with a hard-fought 88 run stand, and after Hughes went for 39, Moises ‘Spotify’ Henriques joined the Best Since Bradman at the crease, and with the best of Kevin Bloody Wilson in their ears, the pair batted to their heart’s content through to the end of stumps in a 186 run stand, bringing up their centuries at varying speeds- Moises brought up his ton by carting Pyecroft on to the hill.
Simon Meredith managed to dismiss them both early on Day 3- Henriques for 124 and Smith for 106, which was also his first century for NSW since 2017.
With some handy runs from Abbott (24), Lyon (30) and a hobbling Patterson (Who batted at No.11 and scored 16*), the Blues finished on 364 and a 96 run lead- Meredith recorded 5/98.
The Tasmanians needed to bat well to have any hope of stealing a win, but when you’re up against the equivalent of an Australian Test attack, it’s all a pipe dream.
Doolan went for 7, Webster went for 2, and outside of some solid resistance from Silk (28) and Wade (40), the Blues bowling attack poached the Tigers with brutal efficiency, claiming 6/32 in the final session to leave them clinically dead at 9/132 at stumps on Day 3, as Starc took another 4 wickets (4/20), in a violent reminder that he can actually play red ball cricket.
Starc took the last wicket of Neil-Smith to begin the final morning, completing a 10-wicket performance, and the Blues had the measly task of chasing down 45 for an outright win.
Despite Hughes and Smith departing to a pair of LBWs from Pyecroft, the Blues were never in any trouble, and got the chase done before midday.
A fairly crushing win for the hosts, capped off by massive turnarounds from several Australian regulars, particularly Starc, who spun his ‘Red Ball Random Performance’ Wheel, and came up really big with a 10fer.
That will probably be enough to get him the 3rd seamer spot against the Pakkies.
Queensland (264 & 6/150) defeated South Australia (221 & 192) by 4 wickets @ The Gabba
POTM: Marnus LaBouchechampagne (QLD)- 32, 72* & Bowling figures of 1/28.
Travis Head made the fatal decision of batting first on a pitch that’s proven as volatile as the Gaza Strip, and the ‘Michael Neser For A Baggy Green Campaign’ took off like the train from Back To The Future Part III, as he produced a blinding opening hour to the match.
More dots than an Indigenous artwork, and Neser followed that up by taking another wicket in his 7th over, and it was 42 balls before he conceded a run.
In all, Neser claimed Henry Hunt for a duck, Jake Lehmann for a duck, and Head for a duck, to leave the Redbacks bleeding and twitching at 3/7.
And following that up, he claimed Jake Weatherald LBW for 25, to make it 4/37, as it became clear that they weren’t batting on the wide open Junction Oval highway anymore.
The problems mounted when Carey was bowled by Marnus Island for 14, leaving the Redbacks lifeless at 5/55 by lunch, but the rescue came in the form of the Toms, Cooper and Andrews, who put some respectability into the scoreboard with an 89-run stand for the 6th wicket, with Cooper churning 69 off 100 balls, while Andrews was able to bat with the tail to push the score past 200, ultimately being the final wicket, for 78.
Appropriately, he was dismissed by Neser, who finished with a well-earned ‘Pfieffer’ of 5/56.
In the final session of Day 1, Joe Burns and Matt Renshaw started positively with a 64-run opening stand, with Burns doing the bulk of the scoring, before he was gone for 39 after being trapped LBW by Wes Agar (Brother of Ashton) on his First-Class debut, and Renshaw joined him in the sheds, as Agar made the inspired choice to bowl short around the wicket, baiting Renshaw into a flick down the leg side, with Carey taking a superb diving catch to his right to dismiss him for 18.
Agar claimed Khawaja for 2 just before stumps to leave the Bulls at 3/70, and those 3 quick wickets had given the Redbacks a fighting chance.
The rain significantly affected the start of Day 2, with just 4 balls bowled before lunch, and the beginning of the middle session was delayed by an hour, but once play got underway, Labuschagne and Charlie Hemphrey added 63 for the 4th wicket, until Marnus was dismissed for 32 edging to Tom Cooper at second slip, bringing 20-year-old debutant Bryce Street to the middle, who only got a start for the Bulls after Sam Heazlett withdrew with a broken finger.
Pleasantly surprising everyone, Street combined with Hemphrey for an 83-run 5th wicket stand, pushing the hosts towards the lead, as Hemphrey brought up his half-century, until he spooned an Andrews delivery straight to Wes Agar on 64.
In the toughest batting conditions of the match, Street would push on to a debut half-century and a 1st innings lead, as the Bulls made it to Stumps on 7/240.
Street went early on Day 3, and some late tail action pushed the score to 264, a lead of 43 in a low-scoring match.
If the Redbacks’ 1st inning was poor, then their 2nd was… also poor.
The top order were poor again- Most didn’t pass 20, Lehmann was gone for another duck (Bartlett took 2 wickets in 3 balls), Head was disappointing with 12, Cooper and Andrews were gone for 20 and 21, and when it looked like the Bulls were going to be chasing a sub-100 score, THE CHADD (Chadd Sayers, who returned from injury) came along with of 42 off 32 to make sure the match wasn’t done by stumps, but the Redbacks were all out for a mediocre 192.
Chasing a somewhat awkward target of 150, Renshaw and Burns got a quarter of the way there, until Burns sent an inside edge through to Carey off Nick Winter, and the very next ball, Khawja’s tough run continued, given out for a golden duck, on a delivery that looked more like it hit his thigh pad than an inside edge through to Carey.
It was all part of a mega batting collapse from the Bulls, as their top order was incinerated in the space of 15 balls, losing 5 wickets for 7 runs, to leave them in the shit at 5/54, as Winter claimed 3 wickets, and Agar 2.
Labuschagne and Jimmy Pearson were left to rescue the Bulls, making it to stumps with a solid 50-run stand, but the nerves returned for the Queenslanders when Pearson was dismissed early on Day 4, but after that, Labuschagne took the wheel, posted yet another half century, finishing on an unbeaten 72, and the Bulls overcome that top order collapse and Winter’s 4/37 to secure the outright win.
For his efforts in pretty much deciding the 4th innings chase, Labuschagne earned Player of the Match honours, and through 2 games, the Redbacks have experienced 2 extremes- A pitch where you can score until you die of laughter, and a pitch where you’d be lucky to reach double figures.
WA (9-519d & 1/9) defeated Victoria (341 & 186) by 9 wickets @ The WACA
POTM: Shaun Marsh (WA)- 219, 0* & 4 catches
Playing on an actual wicket for the first time this season, Peter Handscomb and the Vics won the toss and elected to bat first, with Nic Maddinson and Marcus Harris trudging the score along to 78, before Maddinson was gone for 37, cutting a ball straight to stand-in captain Shaun Marsh at second slip.
Harris brought up another Shield half century after lunch, and progressed to 69 (Nice), before he tried flicking Matt Kelly down the leg side, only to get trapped pretty much dead in front.
The umpire had no hesitation in dismissing him immediately, you can’t do that sort of thing in Sheffield Shield cricket… not even over here in Perth.
Will Pucovski progressed on with things with Handscomb, who went shortly afterwards for 12, clean bowled by Ashton Agar trying to whip him first ball.
Glenn Maxwell stayed around for 5 balls before Jye Richardson trapped him LBW for 1, and the Vics were in slight trouble at 4-128, but Pucovski and Matt Short would stabilise the innings with a 114 run partnership, featuring both players bringing up half centuries.
It would take some Richardson genius to get rid of both, first getting Short edging to Marsh in the slips for 55, and then in the shadows of Day 1, he switched to bowling around the wicket to Pucovski in the 91st over, and produced immediate results, with the young Vic edging a shot down the leg side, and was on his way for 64.
Thanks to some good support from the tail, Sam Harper was able to push the total past 300 with a crucial 72, which included 7 fours and 2 sixes, and the Vics were all out for 341, with Richardson, Moody and Kelly each took 3 wickets.
On this WACA pitch, 400+ was very achievable… if any of those half centurions had been able to push on.
The Vics struck an early blow into the WA innings, dismissing Cam Bancroft for 10, using the exact same leg side trap that the Tasmanians set last weekend- This, time Marcus Harris took a simple catch off the bowling of Jimmy Pattinson.
That brought Shaun Marsh to the crease, where he would spend the next 24 hours- Which very nearly didn’t happen, after Chris Tremain dropped Marsh in the gully.
When he was on 2.
Marsh and Sam Whiteman would put on a quickfire 48 runs before Whiteman went for 28, bringing in Marcus Stoinis, and the Australians reps would bring up their half-centuries in a 115 run stand, and Marsh was dropped again, this time by keeper Sam Harper on 51, which in fairness, was a pretty tough ball to catch low to his left.
Stoinis was eventually bowled for 55, thanks to one of Maxwell’s rank offies that had a bit of extra speed on it.
Maxwell almost got Hilton Cartwright as well, but Handscomb couldn’t hold on at first slip, for the 3rd dropped catch of the innings.
Marsh brought up his century just before WA reached stumps at 4/256, and without skipping a beat, SOS returned on Sunday morning and powered the hosts into the lead, passing his 150, then passing his career best First Class score of 182 (Against the Windies in the 2015 Hobart test), and finally reaching his maiden career double century at the age of 36 with a cut to cover point.
I’m pretty sure old Swampy was getting tanked in the Members calling his son a lightweight… after all, he once belted 355 not out.
The skipper would finish up on 214 off 436 balls, after he was finally dismissed flashing at a Pattinson delivery outside off-stump, which went straight through to Peter Handscomb.
A couple more half-centuries to the Joshes Inglis and Phillippe, and the West Aussies declared on 519, a very healthy lead of 178, and just about playing Victoria out of the game.
Trying to get to stumps unblemished didn’t work out for the Vics, as Richardson delivered a beauty right into Harris’ block hole, who had no time to react and edged one straight to Bancroft, who held on for a sweet low catch at 3rd slip.
After Pucovski fell early on Day 4, the Vics seemingly went into survival mode, and Maddinson and Handscomb did their best to eat up as much time as possible, seeing out 17 overs before Stoinis trapped Handscomb in his customary position of LBW for 19.
Hey Pete, instead of bitching about teams not gifting Victoria undeserved wins, how about you set about fixing that repeatedly failed batting technique of yours?
Maddinson fell for 37 when he was tempted into edging a Richardson delivery, followed by Matt Short being trapped LBW by Stoinis for a 5-ball duck next over, and the Vics were 5-78 just before lunch, still 90 runs behind, and fair to say they were right up Shit Creek, without some form of a wooden contraption to stay afloat.
It left Maxwell to save the innings, which of course meant he was going to come out swinging, reigniting his very entertaining stoush with Jye Richardson that started back in the Marsh Cup, with Maxi managing to dispatch Jye for 6.
Maxwell and Harper carried on going for broke after lunch, managing to carve out a 50 run partnership in about 57 balls, leaving half a chance that WA would have to bat again, and after one too many daring shots, Maxwell predictably threw his wicket away on 57, skying a Stoinis delivery down leg side that, Richardson ran 30m to hold on to.
Despite that 70 run partnership between Maxwell and Harper, they only batted for 18 overs, and in he process, left the tail a sitting duck against a firing WA attack.
The hole got deeper when Pattinson was given out for a duck after apparently flicking one on his gloves through to Inglis, Harper was brought undone on 31 when he edged one to Marsh, giving Moody his 3rd wicket, leaving the Vics 5 short with only 2 wickets in hand before Tea.
After gaining the lead, Siddle was gone for 3 thanks to a superb slips catch from Marsh off Agar, and Richardson finished off the innings by demolishing Scott Boland’s off-stump, leaving WA to chase a measly 9 runs.
The Vics achieved the utterly minor consolation of Boland clean bowling Whiteman, before Bancroft hit the winning runs, with Marsh watching on from the non-strikers.
An all-round superb team performance from WA- Marsh’s double century to set up that massive lead, his subsequent timing on the declaration, and then the consistent bowling across the board to clean up the Vics on Day 4 and claim the outright win.
The terrifying thought has returned to the mind of the average Australian cricket fan- Shaun Marsh is in ripping touch early on in the season.
TOMORROW: A review of Round 1 of the WBBL, and the return of the Marsh Cup!