Photos put spotlight on cricket debacle
Try as they might, Victoria and South Australia couldn’t find a way to contrive a result in their drawn Sheffield Shield season-opener, with the stupefying stalemate probably a fair reflection of the lifeless Junction Oval pitch.
Tensions ran high with Victoria skipper Peter Handscomb and South Australia counterpart Travis Head unable to reach an agreement on a sporting declaration to set up a final-day run chase.
The flat, slow wicket saw a combined total of 1287 runs scored for the loss of just 12 wickets before the match was mercifullycalled off half an hour before the scheduled tea break on the final day.
After winning the toss on Thursday, Handscomb declared at 6-616 about 40 minutes before tea on day two, clearly hoping the ageing pitch would help the Vics bowl the visitors out twice.
But SA found the going just as easy on the road-like surface, progressing to 6-671, their highest score against the Vics and their third-highest ever, before play finished.
This is the second ball that was used in South Australia's innings for 106 overs at the Junction Oval. You wouldn't even give it to your dog to play with. #SheffieldShieldpic.twitter.com/5u5bVL143h— Adam White (@White_Adam) October 13, 2019
Handscomb felt Head didn’t do enough to give either side a chance at a win. “I’m just annoyed the game is dead,” Handscomb said on Saturday evening. “We’ll shake hands at tea (on Sunday) and tell everyone ‘thanks for coming, sorry for such a boring game of Shield cricket’.”
A matter of 30 runs proved the sticking point, with Handscomb keen to set the visitors a target of 350 from 80 overs and Head only willing to chase 320.
“We tried but both teams didn’t want to budge,” said Head, who admitted to being annoyed by aspects of Handscomb’s tirade. “(But) we’re fine, we’ll have a good chat, we’ll have a beer a bit later.
“We want to win the game, Victoria want to win the game but in round one you don’t want to give points up. Both teams aren’t always going to be happy but there’s no bad blood — we just couldn’t come to a decision.”
Adam Zampa sums up the pitch.Source:Instagram
The match descended into farce soon after tea on day three when it became clear SA would keep batting rather than declare.
Handscomb bowled himself and fellow trundler Marcus Harris for 18 meaningless overs, while paceman James Pattinson bowled off-spin for the first time in his first-class career.
“Both teams are entitled to play cricket the way that they want to play it, so full respect for what they did and respect for the way our guys kept toiling,” Victoria coach Andrew McDonald said, taking a more diplomatic approach. “You feel for the ground staff. There was a lot of (wet) weather leading into the game and it’s not an exact science.”
I think I want to come out of retirement and bat at the #JunctionOval#Road#Needsaroundabout#speedhump 🙇🏼♂️🤦♂️— Dean Jones AM (@ProfDeano) October 13, 2019
Test incumbent Harris and several hopefuls made runs, but it will be up to national selectors to decide how much weight is placed on big scores made on such a batsman-friendly deck.
Harris gave his chances of holding on to a Test opener’s spot a shot in the arm with a well-made 116, while Nic Maddinson hit a career-high 224 and young gun Will Pucovski impressed with 123.
For SA, Tom Cooper was unbeaten on a career-high 271, Alex Carey made a polished 117 and Tom Andrews (101) broke through for his maiden first-class century. Maddinson (bruised finger) and Aaron Finch (back spasms) left the match with injury concerns.
Tom Cooper and Peter Handscomb. (AAP Image/Scott Barbour)Source:AAP
Tim Paine (121). Australia’s Test skipper declared it “meant nothing to him” but it must have been a relief to post just his second first-class century.
David Warner (125, 0) and Marcus Harris (116). The incumbent Test openers both scored much-needed tons after battling duringthe Ashes.
Marnus Labuschagne (69, 52). Impressive again from the consistent Queenslander, who is looking to retain his Test No. 3 spot ahead of state teammate Usman Khawaja.
Michael Neser (2-56, 3-42). The reserve Ashes paceman dismissed both Smith and Warner, as well as Moises Henriques, during NSW’s second innings.
Steve Smith (0, 21). Australia’s golden boy had to slip up eventually after a phenomenal Ashes series. Fell for a fifth-ball duck in the first innings.
Usman Khawaja (1, 24). An untimely failure after being dropped in the UK. Scored back-to-back centuries in the domestic one-day competition earlier this month.
Cameron Bancroft (30, 0). Like Khawaja, was axed during the Ashes and faces a tough road back into Australia’s first-choice XI.
Mitchell Starc (0-42, 1-87). Not what he was hoping for after being overlooked for all bar one Ashes Test. Big concerns heading into the home summer.
Fringe runs. Not in the Test selection conversation but Tom Cooper (271 not out) and Nic Maddinson (224) both plundered double centuries, albeit on a lifeless Junction Oval pitch.
Young guns. Victoria’s Will Pucovski (123) and South Australia’s Alex Carey (117) continued to impress under the watchful eye of national selector Trevor Hohns.
Marsh brothers. Mitch Marsh (41, 53) — Australia’s incumbent No. 6 — put in a solid performance but will have scans on his bowling hand after punching a dressing-room wall. Older brother Shaun scored a classy second-innings 85 at the WACA Ground.