NSW v WA, Sheffield Shield final, Canberra, 1st day

Western Australia strike back with reverse swing

Daniel Brettig

March 21, 2014

Comments: 16 | Text size: A | A

New South Wales 6 for 242 (Smith 75, Carters 72, Behrendorff 3-41) v Western Australia

Steve Smith drives, Sheffield Shield final, New South Wales v Western Australia, day 1, Canberra, March 21, 2014
Steven Smith set about building the kind of apt innings he has shown an increasing knack for © Getty Images

Not only was day one of Canberra's first Sheffield Shield final a pleasingly twisting contest between New South Wales and Western Australia, it was also a neat encapsulation of the new skills being honed by the competition's shift away from seaming pitches this summer.

Where once WA would have eagerly grasped the new ball, here they gained most from the old one. Where once the Blues batsmen would have been nervous about negotiating the early hours as the ball whizzed about, this time they prospered early before stumbling later.

By cajoling groundsmen to shave some grass from their domestic strips, Cricket Australia's intention had been to foster the habits becoming of successful Test players, an effort that looks increasingly to have been fruitful. Steven Smith and Ryan Carters seemed to have set the day's course when they settled in for a responsible three-hour stand of 121 against bowling that was diligent rather than threatening.

But the emergence of reverse swing in the lead-up to tea signalled a change in the narrative, as Michael Hogan and Jason Behrendorff hastened a slide of 5 for 25. Behrendorff's post-tea spell included a sequence of 3 for 0 in 16 balls, forcing Moises Henriques and Steve O'Keefe to scrap mightily in order to reach stumps. They will need plenty of runs tomorrow in order to make the most of the start the Blues had been offered.

Though they had lost Doug Bollinger to Australian duty, the Blues still had one difficult selection decision around their bowling attack, and they elected to choose Trent Copeland's steady seam and experience ahead of the more explosive offerings of the younger Sean Abbott. Henriques returned to bolster the middle order.

WA were able to include Mitchell Marsh after his recovery from a side strain, though his capacity to bowl is limited. The toss went the way of the Blues, leaving WA to take the new ball on a surface not expected to offer much in the way of seam movement. Reverse swing and spin was more likely to emerge, but none of this was evident in the early exchanges.

The Blues progressed serenely enough in the first hour, Carters eluding one caught behind appeal by Hogan though looking more comfortable than a crease-bound Nic Maddinson. Seemingly fighting his natural tendencies to attack, Maddinson was pinned in front of the stumps by Ryan Duffield, bringing Smith to the middle on the stroke of morning drinks.

Alongside Carters, Smith set about building the kind of innings he has shown an increasing knack for, adapting to the prevailing conditions while using decisive footwork and full use of the crease to give the bowlers little chance. Some of his driving was a sight to behold, while the introduction of spin drew meaty cuts and twinkle-toed flicks through midwicket.

Carters was more circumspect, maintaining the steady vein of form that has made him the most prolific Blues batsman this summer, and grinding his side to a position of great strength near tea. Hogan had been the most unstinting WA paceman, and began to find a hint of old-ball swing as the afternoon session drew to a close.

In its final over, Carters was tempted to drive at a wide delivery moving wider, the faint edge held by Sam Whiteman behind the stumps. That wicket opened up an end, and when play resumed Ben Rohrer soon followed, snicking Hogan's well-pitched ball behind as it swerved towards the slips.

WA captain Adam Voges called on Behrendorff to replace Hogan, and when he hung on to the sharpest of return chances offered by Smith the visitors could sense the day turning their way. Kurtis Patterson could not make much of Behrendroff either, bowled on the back foot by a delivery bending back at him.

Peter Nevill was similarly befuddled, fending, ducking and weaving at three bouncers before edging his fourth ball, of fuller length and curling away. Only a millimetre or two separated O'Keefe from a near identical fate, walking into a drive and beaten by Behrendorff's angle.

With the Blues at 6 for 189, WA commanded the field, but their efforts to add another wicket were to be frustrated by Henriques and O'Keefe. Neither man looked entirely comfortable, but survival was their primary concern, with there being hope that the second new ball would offer greater scoring opportunities - another reminder of how much the rhythm of the Shield has changed on this season's drier pitches.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by Meety on (March 22, 2014, 23:30 GMT)

ps- I think Lyon has only gotten out 4 times in FC/Tests this summer?

Posted by Meety on (March 22, 2014, 23:28 GMT)

@dunger.bob on (March 22, 2014, 4:56 GMT) - I think since the 1st test in the Ashes - Lyons has only been dismissed twice (in the one test) in SA. In other words been disissed twice in 10 FC/Tests since November!!!!!

Posted by rickyvoncanterbury on (March 22, 2014, 6:27 GMT)

Yes you would think after sell outs of all Australia's games in all formats for decades the ground would be full.

Posted by   on (March 22, 2014, 6:13 GMT)

can't even sell out a final. Cricket Australia - fail!

Posted by dunger.bob on (March 22, 2014, 5:50 GMT)

@ leegend: It might just be me, but every time I've seen Marsh bowl he's been nothing but cannon fodder. Admittedly I haven't seen that much of him but on the evidence so far his dad was a better bowler than Mitch. Also, he's got a side strain:)

Posted by leegend on (March 22, 2014, 5:22 GMT)

Moises has looked pretty solid. It's been a surprise when he's lashed out a few times. Is Mitch Marsh injured? In such a long bowling innings WA need all the help they can get

Posted by rickyvoncanterbury on (March 22, 2014, 5:10 GMT)

They say you can not win a game on day one but you can lose it, well after 160 overs.. 2 of the strike bowlers bowling over 35 overs each and the other 2 over or close to 30 overs each while scoring 420 means by the end of day 2 IMO NSW cannot lose this game, Henriques, Copeland, SOK and Lyon have taken it away who would have thought.

Posted by dunger.bob on (March 22, 2014, 4:56 GMT)

Good on Moises. Also got to hand it to Lyon. He's turned himself into a genuine barnacle. He's hard to dislodge.

Posted by leegend on (March 21, 2014, 20:47 GMT)

For those outside Canberra, Cricket Australia have a live stream and ABC have digital radio commentary

Posted by Chris_P on (March 21, 2014, 20:12 GMT)

Good effort by Smith & Carters & later by MoHen & SOK. Good to see this type of bowling as well. It was a tough decision to leave out Abbot, but Copeland has been successful bowling reverse in the past as well as being very economical, plus he can bat pretty well. Also wish it was on TV.

Posted by   on (March 21, 2014, 15:02 GMT)

beherendoff and carters r looking very good...could come into oz team in 1year time

Posted by jonesy2 on (March 21, 2014, 13:15 GMT)

whats the deal with not showing it on tv? I went to watch it today and it wasn't on fox. some serious batting talent emerging all the time which is scary for the rest of the world.

Posted by Rowayton on (March 21, 2014, 12:23 GMT)

Interesting description of Nevill's innings - in fact, it could also count as the description of his innings last Friday. Looks like some bowlers around might have sorted him out. And dunger.bob, I am being a bit parochial but it's lovely to see the two Canberra boys, Carters and Behrendorff, doing well in a final at Manuka.

Posted by dunger.bob on (March 21, 2014, 9:50 GMT)

Carters is certainly worth keeping an eye on. So is Behrendorf. They'll both be part of the next wave. @ xtrafalgarx: well said, all of it, but especially the last sentence. We don't need pitches where any old seamer can prosper. We just want the really good ones.

Posted by xtrafalgarx on (March 21, 2014, 8:54 GMT)

Good to hear that reverse swing is playing a part in the game as it is historically not an Australian strength. The good pitches have also given the spinners a fair go and it shows as o'keefe amongst other spinners sits atop of the wicket takers list. Also, the number of runs and centuries has increased significantly and the true worth of our batsmen and bowlers is being shown.

Someone like a Butterworth has struggled on these pitches after averaging in the mid twenties with the ball, while young batsmen such as Carters, head, Silk and co have stood up. The good bowlers were still able to prosper and there is a sense of sorting our the boys from the men.

Posted by leegend on (March 21, 2014, 8:14 GMT)

I caught some play in the last hour, I thought Henriques and O'Keefe looked quite comfortable. Their partnership will play a big part in this game.

Quite a good buzz at the ground - FREE entry was a good decision by the organisers

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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