Victoria and South Australia’s first Sheffield Shield game of the season has descended into somewhat of a farce, as a flat pitch and a refusal to yield turned the match into a lifeless run-fest.
- Victoria and South Australia played a dull, run-heavy Sheffield Shield match that was destined for a draw from an early stage
- Victoria captain Peter Handscomb was angered South Australia did not declare early to try to manufacture a result
- The pitch was particularly lifeless, and Handscomb opted to bowl part-timers for large periods instead of his frontline bowlers
The two teams shook hands and settled for a draw before tea on the fourth and final day, with South Australia 6-671 in its first innings in response to Victoria’s first-innings total of 6-616 declared.
Six batsmen scored centuries in the match — two of them double centuries — while no bowler took more than two wickets. But the numbers only really told part of the story.
At the conclusion of day three, Victoria captain Peter Handscomb was left furious that his opposite number had not agreed to a “sporting declaration” to try to manufacture a run chase and the possibility of a result.
Evidently, South Australia captain Travis Head opted to keep on batting, and Victoria responded by pulling its front-line bowlers out of the attack.
Test quick James Pattinson bowled some off spin, while opening batsman Marcus Harris and Handscomb himself bowled an unheard of 18 overs between them.
The runs piled up as South Australia seemed intent to see the match out to a draw.
“I’m just annoyed the game is dead on day three,” Handscomb said on Saturday.
“We’ve got two more sessions tomorrow of dead cricket, I’ve got to put my bowlers back out there for a pointless game.
“We’re all going to walk away from here with a draw, whereas we could have been competing for something tomorrow. Both teams could have been competing for a win tomorrow. Now it’s just going to fizzle out for a draw.
“We’ll shake hands at tea, tell everyone thanks for coming, sorry for such a boring game of Shield cricket.”
Handscomb’s argument falls down, though, when you consider South Australia’s innings was merely a like-for-like response to Victoria’s, after the Bushrangers looked to punish the Redbacks with a massive stint in the field themselves.
At the close of play on the third day, when Handscomb was feely most aggrieved, South Australia had batted 136 overs — still 14 shy of the 150 overs Victoria batted before declaring in its first innings.
The uniqueness of the match also makes it hard to judge the merit of the individual innings within, including Tom Cooper’s score of 271 not out, Nic Maddinson’s 224, Harris’s 116, Will Pucovski’s 123 and Alex Carey’s 117.
Spare a thought for Jake Weatherald, though. The South Australian opener nicked off for a golden duck from the first ball of his team’s innings, contributing precisely zero runs to the grand match total of 1,287.