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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Missed Opportunities and Smith Takes Control

It's only day one of the new Sheffield Shield season, and already cricket has taken its grip again. The day/night fixtures featuring the pink ball provided three games with stark differences, where many Test aspirants missed their chance to shine, and others bolted down their places with stunning displays.

At the M.C.G, where Queensland had first opportunity at the crease against Victoria, Joe Burns and Usman Khawaja were looking to press their Test claims by making big scores. Their failure to do so, managing only 25 and 21 respectively, only mired what will be an interesting selection process in the coming day for that 1st Test squad. Instead, it was yet another New South Welshman who has changed states in order to get a shot at a first class career in Scott Henry who starred, scoring 141 on his Queensland debut, and along with young gun Marcus Labuschagne put the banana benders in a solid position at 4/298 at the end of the first day. There was no joy for Peter Siddle who went wicketless again with 0/31 from 16 overs, making his prospects for playing in Brisbane appear slender.

At Hobart, where the locals sent Western Australia in to bat, a similar scenario hit the Test batting aspirants. Cameron Bancroft was dismissed for 10, Shaun Marsh for 15 and Mitch Marsh for 1 in a performance that must have frustrated the selector on duty. A patient 71 from Adam Voges will at least have sewn up the number 5 spot in the Test team for the time being. Instead, it was another masterclass from Michael Klinger that stole the show, once again reminding everyone that he is still putting his hand up for selection at the next level. At stumps he was 129 not out, and if the selectors are truly looking at form and age is not a question, then it is hard to believe that Klinger can do much more to get his chance. However, with all the talk having centred around Burns, Khawaja, Bancroft and Marsh, it would still appear unlikely he will be seriously considered.

The Adelaide Oval clash between South Australia and New South Wales has more than shown the way of pink ball matches. Smith and Warner flourished in the sunlight before the sliding off spin of Travis Head broke through the middle order as the shadows crept across the ground. Scoring then became much harder in the twilight, before Smith made an interesting declaration to give his Test attack six overs at his opponents. Under the lights facing a pink ball, the South Australian batsmen looked like rabbits caught in headlights. Starc and Hazelwood were irrepressible, and the Croweaters fell to 3/1 before finishing at stumps at 3/3. And while one would suspect this game will only go three days, you begin to imagine that a pink ball Test match may also only go that length as well.

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