WA edge SA on hard fought opening day
Half centuries for batsmen Sam Whiteman, Cameron Green and Ashton Agar has given Western Australia the edge against South Australia after the opening day of their first Sheffield Shield match of the 2020-21 season, despite five wickets from Redbacks spinner Lloyd Pope.
After an uncertain lead in to the season due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and subsequent travel restrictions, the season commenced with all six states in South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria to play each other at a later date with the Vics still observing their two weeks quarantine.
WA unveiled two debutants for the fixture, former Queensland bowler Cameron Gannon making his first appearance for his adopted state while Scarborough speedster Lance Morris also recieved his first baggy black cap.
Stand in skipper Shaun Marsh won the toss at Karen Rolton Oval, choosing to bat first in sunny conditions.
Opening pair Sam Whiteman and Cameron Bancroft prospered early against the new ball pairing of Chadd Sayers and Nick Winter, reaching 50 without loss inside 20 overs.
The left-right hand batting combination wasn’t allowing the Redbacks bowlers to settle, spinner Pope introduced inside the opening session to find a breakthrough on a wicket that was offering the fast men little assistance.
The WA pair raised the century stand to put their side in a strong position approaching the lunch interval, before Bancroft was undone by a superb Pope wrong’un to be bowled for 46, the ball sneaking between bat and pad to graze the leg bail.
Whiteman fell four balls later for 65 when he was sharply caught at leg slip by South Australian captain Travis Head, having hit the previous two deliveries to the boundary.
Veteran Marsh and young gun Cameron Green steadied things in the second session, batting patiently against a threatening Pope and a steady pace attack.
Marsh provided one of the shots of the day with a crunching pull off Wes Agar through midwicket, while Green was efficient in putting away anything offline on both the off and on side.
The pair had added 73 by the tea break but disaster struck for the visitors after the interval, Marsh (31) the second left hander to be caught at leg slip off Pope as Head snaffled a superb catch low to his left off a deft leg glance.
Ashton Turner could only make four before being caught behind, while Green was adjudged leg before wicket for 56 to give Pope his second career five wicket haul, WA slumping to 5-215.
It would be the last success the Redbacks would have for the day as all-rounder Ashton Agar and wicketkeeper Josh Inglis came together to share a 95 run unbroken stand for the sixth wicket, both playing in typically positive fashion to give their side opening day honours.
Agar brought up his half century from 73 balls before the close, to resume on day two on 51 while Inglis is within sight of his own half century on 48, having struck nine fours in his 79 ball stay.
WA will resume on day two on 5-310, Pope the shining light on a good batting track for the locals with 5-94 from 21 overs.
In the other Sheffield Shield match on the adjoining Gladys Elphick Park, Michael Neser claimed 5-32 for Queensland as Tasmania was bowled out for 250, Beau Webster top scoring for the Tigers with 54.
Play will commence at 8:30 PM AWST tomorrow, with all of the action on 91.3 Sport FM courtesy of cricket.com.au.