Sheffield Shield 2015-16, final March 28, 2016

Victoria have the edge after Holland takes three

South Australia 340 and 4 for 137 (Weatherald 72*, Holland 3-32) lead Victoria 399 (Handscomb 112, Dean 111, White 78, Worrall 6-96) by 78 runs

Jon Holland struck telling blows in quick succession © Getty Images

In a season both tightly fought and topsy turvy, taking opportunities has been vital. South Australia floated near the back of the pack before making a late burst to host the Sheffield Shield final. Cameron White regained his place in the Victorian side just in time to play the innings that scraped them in to face South Australia.

No team or individual, though, timed their run quite like Jon Holland. In the course of little more than a week, he has leapt from sitting outside the Bushrangers' best XI to contending for a berth on Australia's July Test tour of Sri Lanka. Holland tipped the competition decider strongly towards Victoria in an outstanding spell on the third evening, leaving the Redbacks scrambling to build a lead at Glenelg Oval.

On an eventful day, Peter Handscomb brought up a notable century, Cameron White shepherded the tail, Daniel Worrall compiled figures of 6 for 96, and 10 wickets fell. Victorian chagrin at being penalised for a ball tampering offence was then channeled into a passage of high-energy and high-pressure cricket to corral South Australia. Holland accounted for Mark Cosgrove, Travis Head and Jake Lehmann, while captain Matthew Wade ran out Sam Raphael.

There was no more fitting measure of how the match has progressed than the fact that Victoria's two young batting talents, Travis Dean and Handscomb, both fought their way to hundreds against South Australia's all-seam attack. Their opposite numbers in Head and Lehmann failed in both innings, the free-spirited exuberance of their best batting seemingly suffocated by the occasion, to the obvious disappointment of 2,864 expectant spectators.

The young opener, Jake Weatherald, bunkered down in the company of Alex Ross after the loss of four wickets in the space of 10 overs, but they have an enormous amount of work to do to set a defendable target. The hosts have also been handicapped by a leg complaint afflicting their spearhead Chadd Sayers, leaving an enormous load for Worrall and Joe Mennie to carry.

The day began with a four-over-old ball in the hands of South Australia's seamers, and Mennie soon pinned nightwatchman Scott Boland lbw. Handscomb was fortunate when he twice edged Worrall between slips and gully to the third man boundary, but there was nothing streaky about the cover drive that took him to three figures. The Redbacks were left to ponder how a fit Sayers might have fared against Handscomb and White, who mixed stern defence with plenty of power.

It took the Kensington product Eliot Opie to find a way past Handscomb, who played fractionally inside the line of a well-pitched ball that sent the off stump cartwheeling. This opened up an end for Worrall, who had swung and seamed the ball consistently and beaten the bat countless times. He prompted a drag-on from Dan Christian, had Chris Tremain lbw next ball, and beat Holland outside off stump with a an excellent attempt at the hat-trick.

At that point the Bushrangers led by only five runs, but Holland hung around to add a priceless 54 with White that allowed the visitors to pressure South Australia when they batted a second time. Autumn sun broke through the clouds for just about the first time in the match and helped Weatherald and Cosgrove to start in relative comfort. It was during this phase that the ball tampering penalty was levied.

However, Holland bowled with considerable guile and sharp spin immediately after tea, varying his pace and flight intelligently and winning a bat-pad catch verdict from the umpire Paul Wilson to defeat Cosgrove. Raphael's brief stay was ended when Wade ran him out, and Head looked markedly uncomfortable against deliveries biting out of the footmarks.

Head had made an uncharacteristic single from 14 balls when he touched a Holland delivery on its way through to Wade, and next ball Lehmann still seemed haunted by the sharp turner that had defeated him on the first day when a tentative prod was squeezed to short leg. Holland was admired by the former selection chairman John Inverarity, and while injuries and team balance have kept him on the fringes of the Victorian side, he has performed repeatedly when asked.

Before the Alice Springs match against New South Wales in which he claimed six wickets, Holland's previous state call-up had been in a Top End fixture the year before, when he pouched eight against Tasmania to claim the Man-of-the-Match award, before promptly being dropped for the final. This time around Holland has grabbed his chance, and Australia's looming subcontinental assignments over the next 12 months mean there may just be more than a Shield title at the end of it.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • cricketsubh on March 29, 2016, 8:55 GMT

    Australia got very good spinner Lyon and they should pick zampa to partner with Lyon

  • Steve_Woodland on March 28, 2016, 22:27 GMT

    Can't see SA getting much more than 150 to 170 lead. Not a lot of batting to come once one wicket falls. It then depends whether Vics can hold their nerve. Won't be easy.

  • evda_cheta on March 28, 2016, 19:11 GMT

    O'Keefe is much better than lyon and others, australia have selected the likes of Doherty, beer, agar, etc. but not O'Keefe. that's strange. love this shield final. tomorrow is important day. rednecks need to give atleast 250 target.

  • annoyedofit on March 28, 2016, 16:34 GMT

    Yeah, O'Keefe the non-turning trundler. He couldn't even trouble the West Indies. Anyone but him.

  • Big_Maxy_Walker on March 28, 2016, 16:22 GMT

    Holland is nowhere near supplanting Steve okeefe for the second spinner job for Sri Lanka

  • cricketsubh on March 28, 2016, 12:54 GMT

    Selectors should pick peter handscomb for Sri Lanka series and play peter handscomb in the odi team also as a wicketkeeper batsman wade should dropped from the team

  • TheCricketEmpireStrikesBack on March 28, 2016, 12:02 GMT

    Excellent match that has everything, including riveting cricket and the odd bit of controversy. I am backing the Vics but when the cricket is this good will not mind the result whatever it is. Enjoying this much more than the bubblegum stuff being played elsewhere.

  • Redbac on March 28, 2016, 9:57 GMT

    78 in front. Glass half full: there's a chance. Big match opportunities are few and far between. How many champions never get to play in a season decider? How many key players have a quiet one in a final? Travis Head (21 & 1) and Jake Lehmann (14 & a golden duck) will be frustrated young men at stumps on Day Three. In contrast, Jake Weatherald (67 and 72*) has stood up, as have Victorians Travis Dean (111) and Peter Handscomb (112). This is real five day cricket. Worrall, Mennie and Opie toiled bravely to restrict the SA first innings deficit to 59, after Chadd Sayers was unable to bowl. After three days, Victoria is in the driver's seat, the SA upper order removed by Holland and a great run-out by Wade. The Redbacks have pushed out to a slim 78 run lead, six wickets in hand, two days to play. Any result is still possible. Glory awaits Weatherald and Ross (30*), if they can hold their nerve, conquer the spinners and set Victoria too many in the fourth dig. Go Redbacks! It can be done.

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