Bird keeps Tasmania's final hopes alive
Tasmania 1 for 72 (Cowan 46*) trail Western Australia 142 (Voges 49, Bird 5-32) by 70 runs
The fast bowler Jackson Bird has kept Tasmania firmly in the race to make the Sheffield Shield final with a five-wicket haul in Hobart. The Tigers skittled the competition leaders Western Australia for 142 and by the close of the first day they were already halfway to first-innings points, having reached 1 for 72 with Ed Cowan on 46 and Nick Kruger on 5.
Tasmania need at least two points from the match to have any chance of making the final, while the Warriors can still miss out should they lose the game outright. They faced a challenge when they were sent in by the stand-in captain Ricky Ponting on a Bellerive Oval greentop and Bird removed both openers for single-figure scores.
Shaun Marsh and Adam Voges steadied for the Warriors until Marsh edged behind for 32 off the bowling of James Faulkner, who picked up Travis Birt two balls later. But it was Bird who really troubled the batsmen, collecting Luke Ronchi, who top-edged a bouncer, and Jason Behrendorff, who was caught at mid-off.
The big wicket was that of Voges, who on 49 was taken at slip off the bowling of Bird, having already had two lives in the difficult conditions. Bird finished with 5 for 32 off 19 overs, an outstanding effort and his fourth five-wicket haul this summer, remarkable for a man who did not make his first-class debut until November.
In reply, Tasmania's top order got through until stumps for the loss of only one wicket, that of Steve Cazzulino for 18. The Tigers had made three late changes due to a food-poisoning outbreak in the side but that didn't seem to affect their performance on the first day, and the Warriors face an uphill battle to secure their place in the final.