Test opener Chris Rogers warmed up for the Ashes series with a gritty knock of 88 in Victoria’s first innings of 236 all out at stumps on day one of their Sheffield Shield clash with NSW on Wednesday.
Sean Abbott claimed 3-60 while fellow quick Doug Bollinger, left-arm slow bowler Steve O’Keefe and Test offspinner Nathan Lyon took two wickets each.
O’Keefe dismissed Fawad Ahmed caught at mid-wicket for 10 after a wild slog from the scheduled final ball of the day’s play, ending an 18-run partnership with Scott Boland (10 not out).
After choosing to bat first in sunny conditions at the MCG, Victoria had recovered from 2-25 to reach a painfully slow 2-59 at lunch.
The Bushrangers had lost the early wickets of Rob Quiney (six) and Peter Handscomb (nine).
In-form strokeplayer Cameron White and Rogers added 67 for the third wicket before paceman Sean Abbott yorked White (48) and Aaron Finch (0) in consecutive deliveries.
Abbott, 21, struck again with the score on 112 when Matthew Wade (nine) was caught behind attempting a hook shot.
David Hussey (13) was bowled by O’Keefe in the final over before tea and Lyon claimed John Hastings (10) stumped at 7-182.
Rogers was the eighth man out with the score on 198, dragging a short ball from Lyon onto his stumps.
In a display of determination that lasted five hours and five minutes, the 36-year-old Rogers gritted his teeth to reach just 13 at lunch and 52 at tea before opening his shoulders in the final session and hitting a total of nine fours and a six from 213 deliveries.
Bollinger (2-61) took the second new ball and removed Peter Siddle (21) caught behind, but not before the Test quick had pulled him for six earlier in the over.
No.11 batsman Ahmed, a candidate for the Test spinner’s role in Brisbane on November 21 against England, belted his rival Lyon over long-on for six in an entertaining last-wicket stand.
In other matches, Tasmanian batsman Jordan Silk made a century in Brisbane against Queensland.
Test fast bowler Ryan Harris (1-91 off 24 overs) bowled with fire but not much luck on a supposedly benign Allan Border Field wicket as a rattled Bailey (34 not out off 46 balls) survived to help guide the Tigers to 2-291 at stumps on day one.
Bailey needed to compose himself after being struck on the left arm by potential Test teammate Harris near stumps.
Former Test opener Ed Cowan was not out on 68 after Silk (107) and Mark Cosgrove (74) laid a solid platform with a 123-run opening stand.
But all eyes were on Bailey as he looked to stake another Test No.6 claim ahead of this month’s Ashes opener at the Gabba.
The stage was set for him to ace the Test audition after the match was switched to the small, batsman-friendly field due to renovations at the Gabba.
The Tigers skipper waited more than five hours before taking the crease – then would have been forgiven for wishing he hadn’t.
He received a taste of things to come if he receives his debut baggy green, as workaholic speedster Harris hit top form after recovering from a virus.
Bailey opened his account by lofting the burly paceman to the mid wicket boundary in a shot reminiscent of his one-day heroics for Australia in India.
He then survived a confident lbw shout and top-edged a pull over the slips before being bounced relentlessly by Harris – at one stage earning a warning from the umpire.
Harris had plenty of moral victories but not many wins on the board.
Peter Forrest grassed a chance off the bowler when Silk was 20.
And Silk almost played on at 107.
Harris finally got his man a few balls later after working over the youngster before Silk pulled him to Nathan Reardon at mid wicket, ending a 116-run second wicket stand with Cowan.
Cowan edged Harris through a vacant slip cordon late in the middle session.
In Perth, Ashes hopeful Mitchell Johnson overcame an injury scare to claim two wickets in Western Australia’s clash with South Australia at the WACA Ground.
In reply to the Redbacks’ 222, WA crawled to 0-49 at stumps on day one, with Marcus North on 22 and Cameron Bancroft on 25.
Johnson was forced to go off for treatment after digging his big toe into the turf while bowling.
But the 32-year-old returned to the fray to collect a late wicket and finish with 2-74 from 16.4 overs.
Johnson missed more than six months of cricket after tearing ligaments in his big left toe in November, 2011.
However, a WACA spokesperson said Johnson’s latest injury wasn’t related to that setback.
Redbacks opener Phil Hughes blew a golden chance to push his case for an Ashes call-up after being dismissed for 25.
Hughes received a life on five when Bancroft dropped a tough one-handed chance at third slip.
But his luck ran out shortly after, with an attempted hook off the bowling of Jason Behrendorff (4-58) skying into the air for wicketkeeper Sam Whiteman to catch.
Johnson, who’s also bidding to earn a recall for the first Test against England later this month, opened his day in horrendous fashion, with two of his first three deliveries called wides.
The left-arm quick was lucky not to have another two wides called during the over.
But he soon found his rhythm, and would have claimed the wicket of Sam Raphael (21 off 96 balls) in his second over had John Rogers held onto a diving, one-handed chance at gully.
Johnson’s second spell was particularly fiery, with a series of bouncers leaving the Redbacks’ batsmen hopping.
The left-arm quick also beat the bat on a number of occasions, and finally received some reward when he trapped Travis Head lbw for 51.
Johnson wrapped up the innings with the scalp of Joe Mennie, whose half-century lifted the Redbacks from 7-160 to 222.
North, whose unbeaten century against Victoria last week salvaged a draw for WA, was yet to score when Trent Lawford dropped a sharp, one-handed chance at slip.
Johnson said he wasn’t overly concerned by the toe injury.
“When I was hopping on one leg maybe in the back of my mind (I was worried). But I knew it would be OK,” Johnson said.
“It was just a bit of jamming in the toe, the one I had my op on. It was nothing to freak about, but it hurt a bit at the time.
“It does jam up at times, but that was probably worse than before. But I got through it and bowled another seven, eight overs after that.”
After Johnson’s wayward opening over, he received advice from national selector John Inverarity and former Test great Dennis Lillee while fielding at fine leg.
“Dennis just said to make sure I keep pulling that front arm down,” Johnson said
“It’s something I’ve been working on.”