The 2015/16 Sheffield Shield season commenced with a round of day night fixtures featuring pink balls.
Victoria v Queensland, MCG
Victoria made a couple of big calls at the selection table leaving out batsmen Aaron Finch and former skipper Cameron White and handing a debut to opener Travis Dean.
Queensland omitted Peter Forrest from their middle order and handed a debut to former NSW operner, Scott Henry, who was squeezed out of the NSW contract list with the return of Ed Cowan. Henry travelled to Queensland without a contract but impressed in Brisbane grade cricket to earn a shield berth at the top of the order.
Batting first Queensland were indebted to the their new recruit Scott Henry as his 141 plus half centuries to Marnus Labushagne and Chris Hartley guided the Bulls to 444. despite complaining that the pink ball was unresponsive, John Hastings was the pick of the Victorian bowlers with 4/59.
In reply Victoria lost wickets to consecutive balls in the 14th over to be 2/31. Debutante opener Travis Dean and Peter Handscomb (137) then combined for a 271 run stand as both made centuries, Dean finished on 154 not out as Matthew Wade made a funky captaincy decision and declared behind at 3/319 mid way through Day 3 just as the twilight commenced.
James Pattinson then ripped through the Bulls top order removing the top 3, Peter Siddle then chipped in with 3 wickets and John Hastings cleaned up the tail to have the Bulls all out for 103 in 33 overs.
This left Victoria a victory target of 229, which they knocked off with ease. Travis Dean made another unbeaten century, 109* to guide the Bushrangers to a nine wicket win.
23 year old Travis Dean became the first player to make twin centuries on Shield debut and was awarded the man of the match.
South Australia v New South Wales, Adelaide Oval
New South Wales fielded a strong line up featuring 5 players from the Australian test XI for Brisbane with regualr players Ryan Carters and Gurinder Sandhu missing out on a spot and instead playing for the Cricket Australia XI. South Australia welcomed in Mark Cosgrove to open alongside Kelvin Smith.
Despite this strong line up, half centuries to Dave Warner, on his return from a broken thumb and Steve Smith were the best the Blues could muster as South Australia skipper Travis Head’s occasional off spin accounted for Warner, Smith and Nic Maddinson. From 1/172, NSW lost 8/90 before Steve Smith declared at 9/262 to give the pace bowlers a few overs at the Redbacks late on Day 1. The tactic worked as South Australia’s top 3 batsmen were all dismissed for ducks and SA went to stumps at 3/9.
The Redbacks subsided on the second day for just 120 as Mitchell Starc was at his devastating best taking 5/28 . Batting again New South Wales merrily breezed along with Ed Cowan and Steve Smith making centuries before declaring at 1/291.
This set South Austrlaia a target of 434 which they were no chance of getting. Only Callum Ferguson provided any resistance making 96 – no other South Australian batsmen made more than 37 in the match- as the Redbacks were rolled for 218. Josh Hazlewood was the pick of the bowlers taking 3/23.
It could be a long summer ahead for the Redbacks – their top 5 batsmen all made a duck in this game.
New South Wales 8.12
South Australia 1.5
Tasmania v Western Australia, Bellerive Oval
Tasmania handed a debut to batsmen Jake Doran and welcomed back Jackson Bird, but there was no spot for Ben Hilfenhaus, with the medium pace of Evan Gulbis preferred.
Western Australia had no room for fast bowlers Nathan Rimmington or Michaal Hogan – two mainstays of their Shield attack last season with Jason Behrendorf and Simon Mackin accompanying Mitchell Johnson. WA changed their settled batting order from last season with Shaun Marsh and Michael Klinger changing positions. The new order was Shaun Marsh up to 3 (last season 5) and Klinger down to 5 (last season 3).
Batting first Western Australia slumped to 3/30 but to the rescue were familiar old hands Adam Voges, with a half century, and Michael Klinger with a magnificent unbeaten double hundred. He was ably supported by number 8 Ashton Agar who made his maiden first class hundred with 105. WA declared at 8/432.
In reply George Bailey provided the only ballast of the Tasmanian innings at number 5 with a patient 63 off 202 balls. The Tigers were all out for 189.
Batting a second time WA lost 4 early wickets to be 4/34. Enter Michael Klinger and Mitch Marsh who both registed unbeatens 50s to set Tasmania a target of 380 for victory.
The Tigers second innings was almost no improvement on the first with only George Baily showing the required mettle to score 68. The next highest score was leg byes with 32. Tasmania all out for 217.
Tasmania’s batting was a serious problem last season when only once did they manage a score over 400. It looks to be more of the same this season, with two sub 250 scores to start the season. How they would like to have access to batsmen like Aaron Finch and Cameron White, players surplus to requirements at Victoria.
The days of Tim Paine at Tasmania look to be numbered, his keeping was fine with 5 dismissals but his batting was once again poor continuing a long term trend. With 4 other wicket keeper batsmen on their books (including Ben Dunk and Jake Doran in the Shield XI) Paine cannot afford a extended run of low scores. He was dropped last season and we may see it again.
Western Australia 8.2
Tour match: Cricket Australia XI v New Zealand, Blacktown.
The Cricket Australia XI for this 3 day fixture was initially players from outside Shield ranks but with Ryan Carters and Gurinder Sandhu, squeezed out at NSW and Cameron White and Aaron Finch omitted by Victoria, The CA XI was strengthened by these inclusions.
Batting first the CA XI openeers, Finch and Carters, were untroubled by a lacklustre NZ attack without spearhead Trent Boult and then Tim Southee who left the field after only 3 overs due to illness. A full compliment of part timers were used by Brendon McCullum including himself. The CA XI finished the day on 0/386 with centuries to both batsmen.
More of the same the next morning led to Finch and Carters both registering double centuries and an opening stand of 500 before Carters was dismissed for 209 and the innings was declared at 1/503 with Finch on 288*
The New Zealand coach Mike Hesson and NZ officials then decided the pitch wasn’t of first class standard, hands were shook and the game was abandoned. NZ flew to Brisbane two days early to prepare for the first test.
This season I will be tracking the golden duck makers. There were 4 in round 1:
Jackson Bird – made a pair and survived just 3 balls.
1. Travis Dean (Victoria)
Broke all sorts of records with a pair of centuries (both unbeaten) on Shield debut.
2. Scott Henry (Queensland)
Made a fine 141 opening the batting for Queensland in his first game for his new state.
3. Steve Smith (New South Wales)
An unbeaten 152 in the second innings was coupled with a half century in the first. Treated the SA bowlers with disdain at the start of day 4.
4. Peter Handscomb (Victoria)
Handscomb combined in a big partnership with Travis Dean, making 137 along the way.
5. Michael Klinger (Western Australia)
Klinger was the mainstay of both WA innings and wasn’t dismissed in this match as he amassed 202* and 50*
6. Mitch Marsh (Western Australia)
Marsh chipped in with a timely 50 in the WA second innings and picked up 2/31 and 3/30.
7. Chris Hartley (Queensland)
Guided the tail through with a fine 55 in Queensland’s first innings, leading them to a total of 444.
8. Ashton Agar (Western Australia)
Made his maiden first class century, combining in a fine partnership with Michael Klinger.
9. John Hastings (Victoria)
Took 6 wickets for the match, including 4 in Queensland’s first innings when the going was tough.
10. Mitchell Johnson (Western Australia)
Johnson troubled the Tasmanian batsmen taking 5 wickets for the match.
11. Mitchell Starc (New South Wales)
Ripped apart the South Australian batting order in the first innings with 5/28 and finished with match figures of 8/90.
The round ahead
A standard round of day matches starting on Friday November 6.
New South Wales v Victoria, SCG
Tasmania v Queensland, Bellerive Oval
South Australia v Western Australia, Adelaide Oval.