Silk, Cosgrove give Tasmania a strong start
Tasmania 176 for 2 (Silk 82*, Cosgrove 58) v Queensland
You can't win a Sheffield Shield final on the first day, but you can certainly lose one, and Tasmania ensured they did all they could to take a loss out of the equation in the first 92 overs of this decider.
Shield finals are rarely cut and thrust, high-octane affairs, and so it proved as Tasmania crawled along at less than two-an-over through the entire day after winning the toss and batting first.
Openers Jordan Silk and Mark Cosgrove combined for a 133-run stand before the first wicket fell in the 77th over, when Cosgrove defended a half-volley onto his foot and it rolled back to the stumps to gift Michael Neser the break-through.
Until then, the Tigers pair showed scarcely any intent to push the game along, having mustered just 41 runs, and three boundaries, in the first session. They were 0 for 90 after 60 overs at the tea adjournment, and the score did not reach three figures until the 65th over of the day.
Silk and Cosgrove showed tremendous patience, determination, and concentration throughout their stand.
Silk's effort was exceptional. The 20-year-old in just his third first-class match batted the entire day, facing 291 deliveries for his unbeaten 82. His concentration never wavered, even after he was struck a nasty blow on the left elbow. The tall right-hander's technique matches his temperament; simple, uncomplicated, unflustered.
The Bulls attack was disciplined and miserly, but not unplayable on a surface that appeared flat in nature, but in reality was a fraction slow, and at times difficult to score on. Queensland captain James Hopes was the most frugal. He bowled 13 maidens in his 21 overs.
The Bulls had their chances, however. Silk was put down twice and should have been run out as well. Ryan Harris could not hang on to a flashing edge at slip off Nathan Hauritz in the 12th over of the day. Silk and Cosgrove were later stranded in a mid-pitch mix-up, but Cameron Gannon's throw could not find the stumps, having created the confusion with a wonderful diving stop.
Cosgrove, having survived some early shouts for lbw, fought his natural instincts to make one of the slowest half-centuries of his first-class career. His fall just before the second new ball brought the game to life.
Alex Doolan, auditioning for an Ashes ticket, nicked Harris to slip for just 6. Silk should have followed in the next over when keeper Chris Hartley failed to cling to an inside edge that was induced by the tireless Hopes.
Ricky Ponting breezed to 20 not out in the last half hour and looms as the danger for Queensland on day two, as Tasmania seek to build a mountainous first innings total.
Alex Malcolm is a freelance writer based in Perth