Behrendorff brilliance helps WA to Marsh Cup Final
A superb return to 50 over domestic cricket from left arm paceman Jason Behrendorff was the catalyst for Western Australia's crushing 159 run victory over Tasmania at the WACA Ground on Thursday.
Behrendorff played an invaluable knock of 35 not out with the bat to push the home side's score beyond 300 before snaring three crucial early wickets with the ball as the Tigers collapsed in a heap to be all out in just 24.5 overs.
With both sides requiring a bonus point in order to usurp Queensland and secure a spot in the final it was Tasmania captain Matthew Wade who called correctly at the coin toss, deciding to bowl first on a wicket that had an even covering of grass.
Jackson Bird struck in the game's opening over when he had Josh Philippe caught at second slip by Beau Webster for four, the right hander dismissed cheaply in his first match for Western Australia in any format for the summer.
Sam Whiteman and D'Arcy Short found the boundary as the runs flowed in the opening overs, but Short became Bird's second victim when he also edged to Webster in the slips cordon having made eight.
At 2-29 the home side was in need of a partnership with their season on the line, captain Mitchell Marsh providing the impetus in a powerful display of batting.
The all-rounder crashed seven fours and one six in a superb knock of 63, but his innings ended when Caleb Jewell pocketed a stunning one handed catch at backward point off the bowling of Thomas Andrews breaking the stand between Marsh and Whiteman at 99.
Whiteman reached a third straight half century for the tournament as he became Western Australia's leading run scorer in the competition for the summer, but fell soon after as he top edged a sweep from Andrews to deep square leg having made 59.
Josh Inglis looked like he was going to be the key for Western Australia as he became the third half centurion of the innings, Tasmania able to take regular wickets at the other end to put the home side under pressure.
When Inglis gloved down the leg side from Sam Rainbird having made 60 it appeared the innings was going to be wrapped up well inside the 50 overs with WA 8-245 in the 40th over.
Behrendorff found willing allies in Liam Guthrie (19) and List A debutant Lance Morris (12) to drag the score beyond 300, the experienced Behrendorff making a career high score of 35 not out.
It gave Western Australia 307 runs to defend, needing to restrict Tasmania to 245 runs or less to secure the bonus point on top of victory that would secure their birth in the final.
Behrendorff, playing his first match in the canary yellow since October 2018 then struck in the opening over of the Tigers chase, Ben McDermott caught behind first ball in a telling blow for the home side.
The left armer would also remove Matthew Wade (19) and Caleb Jewell (15) as the visitors slumped to 3-39, needing to chase the total of 308 in 40 overs to make the final themselves.
They never recovered from the opening salvos of their innings, Mitchell Marsh striking in his opening over with Jordan Silk top edging a pull shot that was caught by Guthrie, backpedaling from fine leg to take the catch over his right shoulder.
A run out two overs late of Jake Doran summed up the Tigers fading hopes, Marsh misfielding a ball at midwicket only to recover and throw the ball to the keepers end with Doran stranded after a mix up with Beau Webster.
Webster was the only shining light as he finished unbeaten on 51, the home side running through the Tasmanian lower order as the game reached an abrupt conclusion, Western Australia in the Marsh Cup final for a second straight year with the Tigers all out for 148.
Behrendorff was player of the match for his all-round efforts, WA to head to Bankstown to play New South Wales in the final on Sunday.
IMAGE: Cricket Australia.