Brilliant Marsh bats WA out of trouble
Shaun Marsh's 30th first class century was one of his finest, helping Western Australia recover from 5-64 and 8-189 to post 302 on the opening day of their Sheffield Shield match against Tasmania at Gladys Elphick Park.
The 37 year old made 115 from 242 balls to be the cornerstone of the WA innings, half centuries from Josh Inglis and Cameron Gannon giving Marsh's side the ascendancy heading in to day two.
Returning Tasmanian captain Matthew Wade won the toss and chose to bowl on a wicket with significant grass coverage, after both round two matches were drawn on flat surfaces offering little for the bowlers.
The move to bowl first appeared an inspired one early as Cameron Bancroft (4) became the first of Jackson Bird's three first session scalps, caught at leg gully as the ball popped up off the shoulder of his bat and carried to Jake Doran, continuing the former Australian opener's leg side dismissal woes from last summer.
Sam Whiteman could only make four before being caught behind off the same bowler, while young gun Cameron Green was out for just seven as he was sharply snaffled by Ben McDermott low down at third slip to leave WA in early trouble.
D'Arcy Short failed to score from his first 20 balls as the Tigers bowlers gave nothing away on a spicy deck, eventually breaking free with a couple of delightful off-side boundaries.
Marsh was cautious and keen to leave as many balls alone as he could, all of Tasmania's bowlers looking dangerous.
Short fell for 17 as he edged behind to Australian captain Tim Paine off the bowling of Nathan Ellis, having been offered a reprieve the previous ball when he was bowled by an Ellis no-ball.
Ashton Agar (2) was also out before lunch to the medium pace of Beau Webster as WA slumped to 5-64.
Josh Inglis came out playing his shots after the break to put pressure back on the bowlers, striking nine fours and one six to change the momentum of the innings in partnership with a more sedate Marsh.
Just moments after reaching a half century Inglis fell for 51, Webster claiming a catch at second slip off Peter Siddle to break the stand at 67.
Marsh began to play his shots more regularly with all-rounder Aaron Hardie for company, reaching a half century as WA reached tea six wickets down.
Hardie was superbly caught by Webster at second slip off Ellis for 26 before last week's batting hero Matt Kelly was bowled for a duck, the innings in danger of being wrapped up quickly at 8-189.
With the second new ball approaching and lower order batsman Cameron Gannon for company Marsh began to free his arms, taking left arm spinner Tom Andrews for a lofted straight six and then a cracking square cut for four to move towards a ton.
He reached the mark by smashing Andrews over long on, having batted for more than five hours to reach a richly deserved and hard fought milestone.
He was ninth out when Siddle snuck one through his defences having made 115, but Gannon took over as he plundered successive sixes off the former Australian paceman to help lift the score beyond 300.
Gannon's first half century for his adopted state ended when he guided a catch in to the gloves of Paine off Ellis for 58, the final two wickets adding 113 as Western Australia was bowled out for 302.
Ellis snared four wickets for Tasmania, Bird with three in his opening hour burst and Siddle with the important wickets of Inglis and Marsh, Webster with a wicket to go with his two catches in the field.
Opening pair Charlie Wakim and Jordan Silk survived till the close, batting out the four overs left in the day to reach 0-6, Gannon and Kelly the two bowlers used by captain Marsh.
In the other two matches as part of round 3 of the Shield competition South Australia was knocked over by Victoria for 200 at Glenelg Oval, Henry Hunt top scoring with 50 while young all-rounder Will Sutherland claimed three wickets.
Victoria are 0-38 in reply, in a strong position in what is their first match of the season because of quarantine restrictions upon their entry in to South Australia.
Marnus Labuschagne's second Shield ton in as many matches gave Queensland the edge on a hard fought opening day at Karen Rolton Oval, the Australian number three dismissed in the last over of the day for 117 as the Bulls closed on 7-274, Jimmy Pierson providing good support in making 66.
Mitch Starc took two wickets on his return to domestic ranks, Sean Abbott and Trent Copeland also with two scalps apiece.
Play resumes on day two of Western Australia and Tasmania at 8:00 PM AWST.
IMAGE: The Canberra Times.