New South Wales 270 and 2 for 166 (Smith 74*, Patterson 60*) lead Western Australia 176 (Bancroft 76*, Starc 4-56, Hazlewood 3-24) by 260 runs
Mitchell Starc underlined his destructive capability with a hat-trick composed of three screeching yorkers in the Sheffield Shield match at Hurstville Oval, but at the other end Cameron Bancroft carried his bat for Western Australia to maintain an unlikely bid for Ashes selection as a wicketkeeper-batsman.
Bancroft's effort was the first instance of an opener carrying his bat through an entire Shield innings since Joe Burns did the trick for Queensland in 2014, and was achieved against the very same bowlers - Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon - who will form Steven Smith's bowling attack against England at the Gabba later this month.
He looked capable of motoring on to a century before Starc intervened, first bowling Jason Behrendorff with a reverse swinger from around the wicket, before finding a quicker version of the same to pin David Moody lbw. The hat-trick ball to Simon Mackin was the pick of the three, tilting back middle stump well ahead of the No. 11's schedule.
In a day punctuated by rain delays, the Blues then set about building their advantage, and after David Warner and Nic Maddinson were again dismissed cheaply, Smith was able to follow up his first-innings 76 with an unbeaten 74 in the company of the elegant left-hander Kurtis Patterson, who was unbeaten on 60. Should Patterson make further runs on day four, he, too, may be in with a chance for a Test berth.