Here’s a few highlights from the Victoria-WA Match:
So at this stage in the universe, the Boxing Day Test will be abandoned due to being as safe as a Baghdad highway, and the New Years Test in Sydney will be abandoned due to the air resembling the aftermath of a Phillip Morris Conference.
FIRST UP- THE SYDNEY AIR QUALITY.
Here’s a hypothetical question – What do you do when the Air Quality Index hits 12 times hazardous, and a public notice from NSW Health goes out for people NOT TO EXERCISE in the extremely poor conditions?
Would you, A: Keep Playing, or B: Keep Playing?
If you chose ‘Keep Playing’ congratulations, you’re a winner!
I read Steve O’Keefe’s thoughts on Cricinfo, and it should give a pretty clear view on how the players felt.
That air quality was shocking. The doctor was all over it and speaking to us about it, and the fact the game wasn’t going to go all day was considered, but in the future they need to look at it because it’s not healthy – it’s toxic.
That was far worse than India. It got to the stage we weren’t going to come off for quality, it was more about visibility. It was getting hard to pick the ball up. I’m sure they’ll address it. It’s a bit left field to have something as severe as this.Steve O’Keefe, from Dan Brettig’s report on ESPN Cricinfo
Usman Khawaja also described conditions as being akin to batting in Delhi, although I imagine the Indians saw the photos of the conditions, and described them as paradise.
Sheffield Shield: Round 6
The last round of Shield cricket before the break for the Big Bash season, and in keeping with a wild round that saw a match abandoned and another almost lead to fatal smoke inhalation – South Australia won outright for the first time in 22 months!
MATCH ABANDONED: Victoria vs WA @ The MCG
The elephant in the room from this shitshow is fairly simple: A match was halted at the MCG… BECAUSE THE PITCH WAS WAY TOO LIVELY.
After the 2017 Boxing Day Test, I’d imagine John The Bookmaker was offering 2,000,000:1 for that to ever occur.
Hansie Cronje would have snapped up those odds in an instant.
After being mocked for producing a corpse back in said Boxing Day Test (Which cost Australia a shot at a 5-0 Ashes whitewash), the MCC’s concerted efforts to produce a good pitch led to the grounds crew creating a wicket that had more life than a cheap drunk after 4 glasses of red.
The problems started during the opening sessions, when Shaun Marsh and Marcus Stoinis copped several brutal-looking body blows from deliveries that sat just off a length and jagged back sharply on the soft pitch, which led to Marsh (Plus WA coach Adam Voges) to lodge a protest to the umpires, who stopped play after 2 o’clock due to unpredictable bounce.
Good lord, one of those blows Stoinis copped was a literal heart stopper.
After seeing how crazy that pitch was, I thought Cameron Bancroft once again being dismissed by a leg side trap would be the funniest thing I saw on Saturday Morning.
After a night with the roller trying to flatten out the pitch, the match was abandoned – The first such-case in a Shield match since 2015, when a Victoria-NSW match at the SCG was abandoned due to an unsafe playing surface.
On that occasion, Victoria were handed 6 points under the CA Playing Conditions Rules, as the Cockroaches (as the home team) had prepared an inadequate pitch/outfield, which led to a rule change after the season so the points would be awarded as a draw – Which the Vics have by chance ended up benefiting from here.
Cricket Australia will attempt to reschedule the match, so it seems the most logical choice would be the Junction Oval, where both teams can post 500 and play out a lifeless draw.
Speaking of lifeless draws, book that in for Boxing Day after this piss-up.
NSW 375 & 1/41 defeated Queensland 240 & 176 by 9 wickets @ The SCG
POTM: Moises Henriques (NSW) 116 off 158
The Bulls won the toss and batted first in the backdrop of the lingering bushfire smoke, and after a good opening stand between Matty Renshaw and Bryce Street, Usman Khawja kept up his run of pissy form by falling for 11, and the Bulls basically spent Day 1 having everyone get to double figures before falling to the might of the Blues, but still, as stumps drew near, 300 was still possible, with Michael Neser providing some solid lower order support and 4 wickets still in hand.
Until Harry Conway came on for the last over of the day, and did this.
Pfft, 4 wicket maiden – I still remember a story from Aquinas about Brother Cleary’s 6 wicket maiden to win a match… And in a riddle you should easily solve…. HE DIDN’T TAKE A HAT-TRICK.
Still, Conway was obviously thrilled at brutally demolishing the might of the tail, so he gave all four of them all a send-off.
On that note, I’d like to announce there’s a new country singer performing in old Sydney town – Conway Twit.
As Day 2 got underway, Dan Hughes and Nick Larkin were both caught behind, leaving the Blues in some trouble at 2/15, but Moises Henriques steered the Blues to an outright lead with his 10th First Class ton, and his second of the season, and along the way, passed the 5,000 run milestone in the red ball game.
Mr Spotify didn’t have sustained help, and he fell for 116, leaving the Blues 5/194 and still 46 behind, but they were into a commanding outright lead thanks to a massive 6th wicket parternship of 159 between skipper Peter Nevill and Sean Abbott, who were half a chance of joining Moises on the centurions list on Day 3.
Sadly for the Bluebaggers, it wasn’t to be – After the pair batted through the opening session, Abbott was caught pulling by Jack Wildermuth off the bowling of Neser for a career-best 86.
After that vital breakthrough, things got easier for the Banana Benders, as numbers 8-11 fell for a combined 3 runs, with the Blues bowled out for 375 (Losing 5-22 in all), Nevill finishing unbeaten on 88, and Neser kept up his claims for an eventual Test debut by leading the wicket-takers with 4/60 – All 4 wickets came in the space of 28 balls.
Trailing by 135, Renshaw carted Trent Copeland for 6 to move the score to 0/18, and 2 balls later, tried taking a quick single, only to see ‘Wall’ Street sent crashing back to the pavilion, thanks to a laser run-out from Steve O’Keefe on his 35th birthday.
Matty was sent packing for 11 in slightly more spectacular circumstances, leaving debutant Liam Hatcher one too many times, and subsequently watching his off-stump go flying.
Just like the air quality, it got even worse for Queensland in the final session, losing 4 wickets to limp to stumps at 5/111, still 24 behind, but in a positive development, Ussie was able to stick fat and post a half-century, his first for the season.
If he was still playing for New South Wales, that’d be enough to get him a Test recall.
As conditions reached those dreaded “Phillip Morris Conference” levels seen on Day 4, Khawja was the key to the Banana Benders having any hope of salvaging a draw, but, he added just one run to his overnight 53, and the Bulls were eventually tranquilised for 176, leaving the hosts to chase an easy 42 to take the points.
Despite Hughes falling for 26 after getting 99% of the way there, the Blues got the job done with both legs in the air.
So the Blues are now 5 wins from 6 matches, putting them on top by a country mile (From Queensland in 2nd), so conceivably, the SCG top brass sitting in their ivory tower at Moore Park can pretty much spend the entire Big Bash break planning how to approach the Shield Final, because they’ll be there.
That said, with the Final being that late in March, It’s a lock to be held at a place like Drummoyne… or possibly Canberra.
South Australia 346 & 4/170 defeated Tasmania 254 & 261 @ Blundstone Arena
POTM: Wes Agar (SA): 3/68 & 5/53
Despite their attempts at pulling a South Australia on the morning of Day 4, South Australia have done it.
THEY’VE WON A SHIELD MATCH.
Following on the inspiration provided by Queensland last weekend, Alex Carey won the toss and decided to bowl first, and it was looking pretty bloody good at 5-121, as Simon Milenko strolled to the crease, having come in to the Tigers line-up after that dry rooting the Bulls gave them.
In a wild innings, Milenko (You Beauty) posted his maiden First Class century, after 10 half-tons across 26 matches, with that century compromising 100 off Tassie’s last 133 runs, before they were dismissed for 254 – Milenko himself was the last wicket to fall for exactly 100, as Joe Mennie and Wes Agar each took 3 wickets for SA.
After negotiating the remaining overs to reach stumps on Day 1 at 0/26, the Redbacks were in early strife on Day 2, losing cheap wickets to fall to 3/57, but Jake Weatherald was ready to back up that 198 he scored against Tassie in Adelaide a few weeks ago, with a vital 128-run partnership with stand-in captain Alex Carey, which put the visitors in a really good position to take the outright lead.
Weatherald eventually fell for 126, and Carey for 73, but the visitors received huge help from Nick Winter (42) and Joe Mennie (49), who added 73 for the 9th wicket to push the score past 300, and eventually SA were all out for 346, with a very handy lead of 92.
Getting sent back in that late in the day, Alex Doolan, obviously seeing ghosts or having enjoyed a few Cascades on Sunday, managed to piss his wicket away or a duck, by getting trapped dead in front by Winter without offering a shot, leading to the finger of death going up from Umpire Abood
That still wasn’t the funniest leave no shot dismissal in Tassie’s second-innings – Someone obviously told Gorgeous George to go out and deliver a final knock that everyone will remember him for.
So he did, by going for a leave…. and getting clean bowled by Agar for a golden duck.
Well, aside from being a national selector, there’s another thing George has in common with the Don.
Eventually Tassie weree bowled out for 261 on the morning of Day 4, with Agar finishing with a 5fer, leaving SA to chase 170, and just when things were looking very good, the Croweaters remembered they haven’t won anything involving the red ball for bordering on 2 years, and promptly lost 4/34, including Carey for 6.
Fortunately, Will Bosisto, a refugee with a heartwarming story, moving from a desolate place called “Western Australia”, teamed up with Harry Nielsen to end the drought with an unbeaten 136-run stand, as Nielsen top-scored with 86 not out.
Realising they were about to get rolled, Tassie decided to make the defeat a memorable one – Gorgeous George came into the attack, firing down some rank medium pacers in his Tassie cap.
Predictably, the over ended with the Croweaters bringing up the winning runs.
The end of a long run of hilarious outs comes to an end for the Croweaters, and Wes Agar has pretty much confirmed he will be placed on a “Never to be picked for Australia” list by the new national selector.
Still, Big Wes does get the consolation of being named Player of the Match for that 5fer that finished off Tassie’s top order.