New South Wales 294 (Abbott 54, Nevill 50, Larkin 50, and 0 for 129 (Larkin 68*) drew with Victoria 7 for 307 dec (Pucovski, Maddinson 59, Handscomb 54, O’Keefe 5-80)
Victoria and New South Wales played out a sedate final day at the MCG before the teams shook hands on a draw.
Daniel Hughes and Nick Larkin put on an unbroken opening stand of 129 with no chance of a result being forced. New South Wales started marginally behind, but once they avoided losing any early wickets the action fizzled out.
The draw consolidates New South Wales’ position at the top of the table after they started the season with four consecutive wins although the gap to second has been narrowed after Queensland’s two-day victory over Tasmania.
There is one more round of Sheffield Shield matches before the BBL break.
Recent Match Report – New Zealand vs England 2nd Test 2019
New Zealand 375 (Latham 105, Mitchell 73, Watling 55, Broad 4-73) and 211 for 2 (Williamson 96*, Taylor 84*) lead England 476 (Root 226, Burns 101, Pope 75, Wagner 5-124) by 110 runs
Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor capitalised on an end-of-term vibe on the final day at Hamilton, batting through the morning session – with the aid of some notable let-offs from England’s fielders – to all but ensure that New Zealand will claim the spoils in this two-Test series, thanks to their innings victory at Mount Maunganui last week.
By lunch, Williamson was 96 and Taylor 84, having brought up his 7000th Test run, and his 1000th at Seddon Park. They had begun the day with their side in a small amount of strife, still trailing by five runs overnight and knowing that a flurry of early wickets could yet have given England a chance to put their foot in the door on the final day of the series.
That prospect never materialised, as the combination of a lifeless wicket and a tired England attack combined to give both men a chance to bed in from the outset. Apart from the chance to close out a notable series win, the partnership, 183 by the break, was a vital chance for New Zealand’s two senior batsmen to get time in the middle before their next big encounter – the first Test against Australia in Perth that gets underway in just over a week’s time.
England opened their day’s work with Sam Curran and Ben Stokes in harness, the latter opting for a short-pitch assault from round the wicket to cramp both batsman for room. That tactic might have reaped an early reward in the fourth over of the day, when Williamson – on 39 – gloved a lifter down the leg side. Unfortunately, Ollie Pope behind the stumps was too flat-footed to take advantage, tumbling late to his left and shelling the opportunity.
If that was a bad miss, however, it was nothing compared to the incomparable low-light of the morning – a dropped catch so ghastly that it is sure to be replayed in Christmas compilations and Twitter memes for evermore.
The moment came in Jofra Archer’s third over of the morning, with Williamson by now on 62 and easing sweetly through his gears. Archer, who has endured a tough campaign with just a solitary wicket in each of the two Tests, decided the time was ripe to roll out his variations, rather than beat a hole in the middle of an unresponsive wicket and attempt to challenge the speed gun.
So out came a superbly subtle knuckleball – Archer even changed his grip midway through his run-up, then dropped his front arm in his delivery stride to add a further layer of bafflement to what was about to come. Williamson responded with a startled prod to midwicket, raising his hand in apology to his team-mate as the bowler set off on a victory gallop, arms outstretched and smile as wide as it has been all match.
But moments later, he was obliged to look back in horror and disbelief, as Joe Denly made an unfathomable Horlicks of an chance that an under-eights fielder would have been embarrassed to let through his fingers. The ball had lobbed to him as if being returned from the slip cordon at the end of an over – and it slipped like a buttered crumpet clean through his grasp.
It was an iconically desperate moment – quite possibly the easiest chance dropped by an England fielder since Mike Gatting shelled Kiran More at Madras in 1992-93, a lob off the splice that he tried to blame on the sun in his eyes. And the reactions were priceless. Stuart Broad threw his hands to his mouth in horror, Stokes at deep midwicket turned on his heel mid-celebration and averted his gaze. Williamson himself raised a quizzical eyebrow and allowed himself a wry grin.
And the effect of that let-off on what remained of England’s competitive juices was like a drawing pin on an inflatable dinghy. Denly himself entered the attack soon afterwards for an apologetic (but actually quite serviceable) six-over spell of legspin, and Chris Woakes came and went in another economical but fruitless burst.
The only real jeopardy for either batsman concerned the encroaching bad weather, and their own quest for milestones. Williamson – who was belatedly startled by a Stokes bouncer and rattled on the helmet – suddenly upped the ante with lunch approaching, pulling a brace of boundaries through square leg to race to 96. He’ll hope the rain stays away for a moment or two longer.
Cameron Bancroft left out of settled Australia Test squad to face New Zealand
Cameron Bancroft has been left out of Australia’s 13-man squad for the Test series against New Zealand, which starts in Perth next week, in an otherwise unchanged group from the one which swept Pakistan 2-0 with a brace of innings victories.
James Pattinson, who was ruled out of the opening Test against Pakistan after his code of conduct suspension, and the uncapped Michael Neser remain the support pace-bowling options.
Rotation was a theme among Australia’s pace attack in the Ashes but barring any injuries it would be a surprise if they changed the current trio for the opening Test against New Zealand. Mitchell Starc, who took 14 wickets at 17 in the two Tests, grimaced at times in Pakistan’s second innings in Adelaide, but Tim Paine was confident there was no significant concern.
“We’re lucky not only because of how good [the quick bowlers] are but they’re great athletes as well,” he said. “Starcy has a bit of a cut on his big toe, he did land awkwardly at one stage yesterday but that was fine. Most of his grimacing today…I think he’s waiting the nail to come off the big toe which happens to a lot of fast bowlers and until it actually happens it can be quite painful. He’s battling a little bit with that but nothing he hasn’t gone through before.”
Bancroft was the spare batsman for the Brisbane and Adelaide Tests and will remain a standby player, but has not been officially included this time. The selection chairman, Trevor Hohns, has left it open to add a player to the squad if conditions dictate which could be the case in Sydney where two spinners may be an option.
Bancroft was released ahead of the Adelaide Test to play in the Sheffield Shield match against South Australia where he made 12 and 23 to continue a lean first-class season, his first-innings dismissal seeing him caught at leg gully for the fifth time this summer.
Given the dominance of Australia’s top order against Pakistan – and the two innings wins – some of the batsmen have had limited time in the middle with Travis Head and Tim Paine batting just one in the series.
“As we said prior to the Pakistan series we are striving to maintain a core group of players,” Hohns said. “The performance of the team against Pakistan was very impressive across all areas, while there is always some room to improve
“We are backing the current batting line-up to continue their form across the next three Tests. Whilst not a part of this squad, Cameron Bancroft remains one of the standby players. Similarly, depending on conditions, we reserve the right to add a player to the squad at any time during the Series.
“Michael [Neser] will play for Queensland against New South Wales in the Marsh Sheffield Shield game at the SCG, as James [Pattinson] did last week for Victoria.”
The round of Sheffield Shield matches which begins on Saturday is the final one before the competition breaks for the BBL.
Squad David Warner, Joe Burns, Marnus Labuschagne, Steven Smith, Matthew Wade, Travis Head, Tim Paine, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, James Pattinson, Michael Neser
Recent Match Report – Western Australia vs South Australia, Sheffield Shield, 15th Match
Western Australia 8 for 492 dec and 6 for 205 dec (Marsh 102*, Sayers 2-39) beat South Australia 353 & 308 (Ferguson 123, Weatherald 63, Kelly 5-63) by 36 runs
A five-wicket haul from Matthew Kelly helped Western Australia to a thrilling victory over South Australia at the WACA with just seven balls left in the game.
Following a century from Shaun Marsh earlier in the day and then 123 from Callum Ferguson in the sensational chase of 345 – in 70 overs – a collapse left South Australia needing to survive 44 balls with two wickets in hand in fading light. Adam Zampa and Joe Mennie survived 31 deliveries before Mennie edged Joel Paris behind. Then, with just eight balls left, Zampa inexplicably hooked David Moody with two men catching in the deep behind square, and Paris held on to the catch.
South Australia had looked on track to win at 3 for 255, needing just 90 from 91 balls. Ferguson played magnificently as he had done against WA in their last Marsh Cup meeting and threatened to steal the show. His 123 featured 20 glorious boundaries and came from 150 balls after he had entered at 1 for 1 following Henry Hunt’s fall to a stunning one-handed catch from Ashton Agar at point.
Ferguson shared a 130-run stand with Jake Weatherald, who made 63, and then a 91-run partnership with Tom Cooper to put South Australia in control.
But when he fell to Kelly, chipping a catch to midwicket, the game swung completely. South Australia lost four wickets for just 18 runs with Kelly taking three of them to take his fourth first-class five-wicket haul. The Redbacks abandoned the chase with Mennie and Zampa at the crease but despite Zampa’s 37, they fell seven balls short of escaping with a draw.
Earlier in the day, Marsh continued his stunning form, posting his second century of the Shield season and his third in all formats following his match-winning unbeaten hundred in the Marsh Cup final against Queensland.
WA were chasing quick runs trying to set up a declaration but needed to be careful not to be bowled out after losing Cam Green and Josh Inglis in quick succession. Marsh had some fortune with a couple of edges finding the boundary but also played some trademark strokes. He got superb support again from Agar, who made 45 not out. WA declared shortly after Marsh reached his 28th first-class century to give their bowlers 70 overs. They only needed 68.5 to take ten wickets.
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