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With the winter code’s Grand Finals freshly in the rear vision mirror, the triple header in the 50 over Matador BBQ Cup today tells us summer is well on its way.
The opening day of the local 50 over competition saw six centuries, a blazing double and a six wicket haul over the scheduled three matches. Holding three matches on opening day is clearly a signal from Cricket Australia that it’s time to bring Cricket back into the headlines. With the Bangladesh tour postponed, all the big names were on hand for the state teams and for the most part grabbed the chance with both hands.
The match of the day was WA vs SA where there was an incredible three centuries and a double scored. The fireworks started with S Marsh taking it to the bowling attack while Bancroft was measured in finding his way. They went on to hit a record opening One Day partnership for WA by belting 216 for the first wicket when Marsh fell 109. Coach, Justin Langer, was confused at the omission of Marsh from the national ODI team for the Bangladesh tour. However, Marsh took the first possible opportunity to remind the selectors why he shouldn’t be forgotten in the format.
Once Marsh departed at the other end, Bancroft went up a gear. After the high of being selected on his first Australian Tour, then having it cancelled, the young gun made his first List A century for the Warriors and made it a big one. At one stage it looked like he was going to bat through the innings, but finally fell for 176 (155) hitting 14 fours and 8 sixes pushing the Warriors to an imposing 4/350.
There was plenty of talk about Heads promotion to captain of the Redbacks last year and unfortunately for him, he had a disappointing first season. However, this is a new year and he has made a big statement in the opening match. After watching Marsh and Bancroft take his bowling attack to town and staring down 351 for victory, it seemed like he was keen to do it all himself.
Head opened the batting and watched as Ludeman and Raphael went cheaply leaving SA at 2/24. The next wicket didn’t fall until 302. Head and Ferguson combined to pay back the carnage dished out by Marsh and Bancroft with interest, putting on 278 of their own. Finishing when Head was dismissed for a massive 202 (120), setting up the victory with 20 fours and 12 sixes.
Ferguson has publically said he has his eyes on a recall to the Australian team. After just getting his foot in the door a few years ago and then having a horror run with injuries, his form over the last couple of seasons suggest he can be right in the mix. It’s not often a score of 112* (118) chasing a target of 350 doesn’t get you some headlines. To his credit he played the support role for the ‘Travis Head show’ and then guided his team past the total with 21 balls to spare.
In the other matches NSW took on the young brigade of the CA XI and gave them a monstering as a welcome. The stacked NSW side had 10 internationals in their line up and the first outing for the CA XI won’t be forgotten anytime soon. A 279 run win to the Blues doesn’t give credit to the skills in the young line up, but there was always a chance that something like this would happen throughout the competition.
Batting first, NSW opener Nic Maddinson set the tone with 108 (120) building a 153 run partnership with his captain Steve Smith who finished with 143* (122). Henriques chimed in with 48 at second drop to complete the main contributors to the score board finishing with 3/338.
For the CA XI bowling attack there was obviously not a lot of joy. Bulls contracted, James Bazley, claimed the first ever scalp for the team getting experienced campaigner Cowan for 21. From there, only another two wickets fell for the cost of plenty of runs. The other wicket takers were Sydney based opener Liam Hatcher and Bulls contracted all-rounder Jack Wildermuth, with the later taking the best figures of 1/49 off his 10.
When they changed ends, only four bowlers were used for the Blues. Starc helped himself to a bag, taking 6/25 off 8.4. Sandhu and O’Keefe grabbed one each while Abbott picked up the other two.
With a total of 59, there’s not many highlights for CA XI. Unfortunately only South Australian all-rounder and Vice-Captain, Alex Gregory made a stand with 23* (48) with no one else getting into double figures.
It’s not unreasonable to say they will be on a steep learning curve over the next month, but it is a great concept. Getting the young fringe players game time against the best from around the country can only be beneficial. I think they are a chance of taking a scalp or two, and if not, at least fans get to know more about the next crop coming through.
Finally QLD took on TAS and the Tigers gave the Bulls a 9 wicket hammering. Test aspirant, Fekete lead the way with three of the top five wickets and a tailender at an economy rate of 3.16 giving him figures of 4/30 of 9.3. All the bowlers chipped in with a wicket each except Gulbis, who took two.
The talented Doran didn’t have to wait long for his first catch at state level, taking an edge off Burns for golden duck, and unfortunately the Bulls never really got going from there. A couple of partnerships steadied the ship, but critical breakthroughs from the Tigers attack snuffed out any chance of building a sizable target, leaving them all out for 196.
Any thought of horrors in the wicket were soon put to rest by Dunk, who cruised along for his century, finishing with 104* (101). At the top of the order, Paine poked around for 39 (53) falling to Boyce for the only wicket of the innings and Michael finished the job with Dunk, seeing the match out with 51* (64). The nine wicket win was a perfect start for the Tigers 2015/16 season.
As a punter, it doesn’t get much better for an opening day to the season than seeing plenty of runs scored by the right names. In a time when the national team will see a few changes, having guys like Bancroft, Ferguson, Head, Maddinson and Dunk all getting runs sets the tone for not only the competition, but the season. I’m hoping for a real contest between bat and ball through the Shield season this year, but for the One Dayers, I think runs are the name of the game.