Latest Match Report – West East vs Tasmania Match 6 2023/24

 – Gudstory

Latest Match Report – West East vs Tasmania Match 6 2023/24 – Gudstory

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Western Australia 437 for 6 (Wightman 188, Bancroft 91, Bell 2-64) coached Tasmania 439 in 2 innings

Western Australian opener Cameron Bancroft has not reached Sheffield Shield centuries in succession, but skipper Sam Whiteman has Tasmania toiling on a flat WACA pitch as the match appears to be heading towards a draw.

Whiteman batted for the better part of the third day as WA nearly reached par at stumps. Facing 383 balls, Whiteman was agonizingly short of his highest first-class score of 193.

WA’s strong response built on a 227-run opening partnership between Whiteman and Bancroft as the Tasmanian attack struggled to break down in batting friendly conditions.

Some long-time WACA observers have wondered if this is the dullest pitch at the famous ground since the 2015 New Zealand Test, which appears to have been hastened by Australia’s quick-to-retire Mitchell Johnson.

But Bancroft missed a golden opportunity to make another century with his 122 in Western Australia’s opening grand win over Victoria. He is in the running among several contenders to replace veteran opener David Warner, who is expected to retire from Test cricket this summer.

Tasmania has had some respite with temperatures well below the sweltering heat over the first two days. As cloud blanketed the ground late in the day, their quickies finally enjoyed a late assist through seamer Gabe Bell who conjured up reverse swing.

Resuming on 63 not out, Bancroft survived a big appeal from Bell early on before easing the attack as he did during the latter part of the second day.

With Western Australia still facing a huge deficit, Bancroft and Whiteman countered cautiously with occasional boundaries which was a welcome sight of continued strong defence.

With Tasmania’s bid for a wicket looking desperate, the main interest was focused on who would score the first century with Bancroft and Whiteman in for most of the innings.

But with Bancroft intent on stalling, Wightman slowly edged away and notched his first century of the season with a powerful shot to the boundary of seamer Mitchell Owen.

All eyes after lunch were on Bancroft, whose inevitable march to another ton was denied when spinner Jarrod Freeman cornered him lbw seemingly out of nowhere.

Bancroft, along with those on the ground, could not believe he had missed a sweep shot, but his dismissal led to a run of wickets not seen since the opening session of the match.

After starting the season strongly with 94 against Victoria, teenager Tig Willey was solid against the hard-working Bell for 4. Willey can sometimes look glued to the crease, especially early in his innings, and that was the case again here.

Bale was also rewarded when Hilton Cartwright holed out impatiently as WA inexplicably lost three wickets in seven overs. Cartwright, who played two Tests as an all-rounder for Australia, has returned from a knee injury but is playing as a specialist batsman.

In a rare recent sight, clouds began to form in the sky to further improve the Tasmanian’s mood, but the natural appeal resumed with Whiteman and Aaron Hardy making it look rather easy.

Perched on 149 at tea, Whiteman quickly reached another milestone after the resumption while Hardie played strongly to score an attractive half-century.

Hardy, who recently made his international debut, performed well against Victoria with 48 and five wickets in the match. He was looking for a big score, but on 56 Freeman hit it straight to short extra cover.

Bell welcomed the increasingly bleak conditions, but wickets remained few and far between to further emphasize the uncharacteristic WACA pitch.

Tristan Lavallette is a journalist based in Perth


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