NSW v Tasmania, Sheffield Shield, Blacktown, 4th day November 2, 2013

Doolan leaps into Ashes contention, Tigers stumble to win


Tasmania 239 (Doolan 56, Bollinger 6-62) and 8 for 295 (Doolan 132, Dunk 67, Wells 57, O'Keefe 3-53, Lyon 3-88) beat New South Wales 288 (Clarke 88, Rainbird 6-68) and 245 (Henry 65, Rose 4-64) by 2 wickets

Alex Doolan added his name to the Australian selectors' Ashes batting shortlist with an outstanding century as Tasmania stumbled to a nervy two-wicket victory over New South Wales in the Sheffield Shield opener at Blacktown Oval.

The Tigers were cantering along in pursuit of 295 to win before Doolan's exit for 132 started a slide of 6 for 23 to give the Blues faint hope of a larcenous win. But the left-arm spinner Clive Rose, who had taken four wickets to keep the Tasmania target within reasonable parameters on day three, held his nerve by clouting the Test spin bowler, Nathan Lyon, for six and then flicking the winning runs to take the defending champions to outright points.

They owed much to Doolan and an innings that demonstrated the class and character that has had him around the fringes of Australia's Test line-up for some time. Watched not only by the selectors but also the Test captain Michael Clarke, from his post in the slips, this day may later be seen as a pivotal point in Doolan's career.

"He played very well, that was a fantastic innings no doubt about it, and played a huge part in getting Tasmania home so deserves a lot of credit," Clarke said. "I thought he batted with great patience but played his natural game. He played a really good innings but he helped his team win batting on a fourth day wicket. To play with so much freedom and the patience he showed has certainly done him a lot of favours I would imagine."

Doolan is considered to be behind his state captain George Bailey in the queue for an Ashes batting berth. However, more runs against the Englishmen for Australia A in Hobart next week will greatly strengthen the case of a batsman who also made an unbeaten 161 for the A team against the South Africans in Sydney this time last year, before a choppy domestic schedule scotched his momentum. Batting alongside Ricky Ponting last summer has played a large part in Doolan's evolution.

"I think everyone lives in hope at the moment of being in that Test team," Doolan said. "The advantage Australia has got at the moment is that so many guys are making a lot of runs, not only at home but away in India. George Bailey's form has been sensational. There is a plethora of people to pick from. I hope my name is up there with them.

"I think I came on in leaps and bounds last year thanks mainly to Ricky Ponting. Under his tutelage I learnt more in 12 months than I had in the first five years of my career. I've got a lot to thank him for."

After the early loss of the former Test opener Ed Cowan on the penultimate evening, Doolan formed productive partnerships with Ben Dunk and Jon Wells to drive Tasmania towards their target. He did not offer a chance, while driving straight and through cover with plenty of flourish.

Josh Hazlewood was taken for three consecutive boundaries in one over before lunch and, after the interval, Doolan went to his century with a commanding on-driven four. He looked set to guide the Tigers all the way to their target, but perished the ball after gliding Steve O'Keefe over cover for six, falling lbw on the pull shot to a ball that skidded through.

Doolan's exit gave NSW a glimmer, and they went close to charging through as O'Keefe and Lyon bowled quality spells on a wearing pitch. Ultimately it was left to Rose to ensure the Tigers would not cough up a match that had been theirs for most of the afternoon, and Doolan was able to celebrate victory alongside an innings that has given him a genuine chance of figuring in Australia's Ashes calculations.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Jeff on November 3, 2013, 23:33 GMT

    Rogers, Warner, Clarke, Smith, Watson, Bailey, Haddin, Johnson, Harris, Siddle, Lyon. If Watson is injured, I'd go Faulkner...and then I'd have Cam White as the next man in if there are any injuries to batsmen. And I hope they give Ahmed a crack this summer. I predict a 2-1 series win to the Aussies.

  • Mashuq on November 3, 2013, 13:32 GMT

    Agree 1000% @Big_Maxy_Walker on (November 3, 2013, 5:09 GMT). As a package he offered as much as Agar atm but there were/are no takers!

  • Hamish on November 3, 2013, 9:12 GMT

    lol @milhouse79, you're up there with Front-Foor-Lunge. SOK 26 FC bowling average on green, non deteriorating pitches... Hmmm.... most Eng fans admitted after/during the Ashes that Lyon was actually a good spinner (or decent at the least) and he averages 39 on these pitches... Hmm. On top of that SOK's a leader, a good fielder and a decent enough bat. Oh and if we're talking singular smashings from particular batsmen (which happens to every spinner) in limited overs cricket, Shane Watson hit Swann for 26 in one over.... Does that make him a bad test spinner? Ridiculous. Hussey hit Ajmal for 22 in 4 bowls in the t20 world cup, is he a bad test spinner? Try again.

  • Prem on November 3, 2013, 5:09 GMT

    Watson, Rogers, Khwaja, Clarke (c), SSmith, Bailey (vc), Haddin, Faulkner, Siddle, Harris, Lyon for the Gabba. 12th Doolan.

  • Eddie on November 3, 2013, 5:09 GMT

    O'Keefe should have partnered Lyon in India instead of Doherty. Plus possibly a test or two in England, considering all the right handers in the England team. He is a good fielder, decent bat and a good head on his shoulders.

  • w on November 3, 2013, 4:06 GMT

    "However, more runs against the Englishmen for Australia A in Hobart next week will greatly strengthen the case of a batsman who also made an unbeaten 161 for the A team against the South Africans in Sydney this time last year, before a choppy domestic schedule scotched his momentum. Batting alongside Ricky Ponting last summer has played a large part in Doolan's evolution" In other words Sutherland's pathetic Big Bash severely affects our first class players and when we were trying to get a decent batting order together for the Ashes, decent players such as Doolan could not get the chance to establish themselves. I like that term - choppy domestic schedule - could also Cricket Australia mismanagement of what should be our number one priority - test cricket and its feeder competition, the Sheffield Shield. All we will hear now leading up The Ashes is how important it is. Lie - it is not important, else there would not be a "choppy domestic schedule" in place before the Ashes in England.

  • Dummy4 on November 3, 2013, 2:07 GMT

    Marcus North gutsed it out against Siddle and co ....But Hughes needs to open ..he needs the selectors to put their faith in him as they did with Steve Waugh ...he will learn from Rodgers

  • Matt on November 3, 2013, 0:30 GMT

    Finally some positives coming from young Australian batsmen. Doolan in good touch, Warner and Khawaja both having a great Ryobi Cup is al good for competition. It just goes to show what a waste of time this Indian series has been- Hughes should be back here pushing for a spot as he was IMO unfairly dropped in England this year. Bailey needs runs in the shield if he is to be picked considering his poor FC record of late. I think Chris Lynn's name needs to be thrown into the mix also. Awesome hundred against most of the English attack the other day. Admittedly, it might not happen this season but hopefully he keeps developing under Stuart Law to become a great player in the shield and then the test team.

  • Brendan on November 3, 2013, 0:21 GMT

    Very much agree on SOK! I can't see why the selectors aren't picking him? He had a good season last year, he has started with four wickets, somehow better than Lyons effort, and yes, he can bat better than Lyon, Ahmed etc. if he was named to play in Brisbane or even in the squad that would be a better shock than Agars debut. If he is used at all in this home tests series (England's whole middle order are right handers, and KP) that would be a very good call by te Aussie selectors and Inver's. he could be a very good player for Australia, I wish the selectors would give him a go, and, he couldn't be worse than Xavier Doherty's trial in test cricket.

  • Rajaram on November 3, 2013, 0:06 GMT

    Ricky Ponting should be appointed as the Talent Scout for Cricket Australia and coach 4 hand-picked Potential Test batsmen. We cannot afford to lose the wealth of knowledge and skill that this batting genius who started his 20 year long cricket career from the grassroots of Club Cricket at Mowbrays,and grew to be the next best Australian batsman to Sir Donald Bradman.

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