A fired-up Doug Bollinger delivered Test selectors another timely reminder with a menacing spell to help NSW back into their Sheffield Shield match against Tasmania.
Bollinger produced a masterclass of pace and swing in a post-tea blitz with Sean Abbott to destroy the Tigers’ second innings for just 164.
The 32-year-old’s spell came on a day speculation increased he could be a shadow paceman for the third Ashes Test in Perth, and with selector Rod Marsh having been spotted at Bellerive for the Shield match.
Bollinger finished with 2-39 and Abbott a career-best 4-36 but it was the veteran’s superb inswinging yorker to bowl Tim Paine (1) that ensured a collapse of 7-29.
“When someone’s bowling that fast and bowling that well it gets the whole team up,” Abbott said. “You don’t often see a guy bowling that fast and with the ball swinging like that.”
The Tigers will have had enough of Bollinger, who took 6-62 against them in Sydney earlier this season.
“Painey’s was an unbelievable ball,” Tigers top-scorer Mark Cosgrove (81) said. “After I saw that it was always going to be quite hard to keep him out. “He executed his balls amazingly.”
Tasmania’s collapse left the Blues with a target of 255 for an unlikely outright win after they had begun the second innings trailing by 90. The ladder-leaders were 0-43 at stumps on day three, Nic Maddinson to resume on 17 and Ryan Carters 26.
Tasmania had been in the box seat when they went to tea at 3-123 and eyeing a sizeable lead, but only opener Cosgrove passed 20 for the home side. Bollinger got the initial breakthrough to remove opener Jordan Silk (12) before spinner Steve O’Keefe (2-31) dismissed Test aspirants Ed Cowan (12) and Alex Doolan (17).
Abbott claimed his four scalps supporting Bollinger after tea to top his previous best of 3-60, while Gurinder Sandhu (2-24) helped mop up the tail. “Two hundred is a lot of runs to get, especially on a fourth-day wicket that’s deteriorating,” Abbott said. “We’ve definitely given ourselves a chance.”
The Tigers had dismissed the Blues for a first innings 264 before lunch on Sunday in reply to their own total of 354.
At the MCG, Victoria have the faint sniff of a stunning turnaround against South Australia in their Sheffield Shield match at the MCG.
The door was left slightly ajar for the home side at stumps on day three, with the Bushrangers reaching 8-353 in their second innings. That gave them an overall lead of 128 with one day left. SA remain in the box seat after skittling Victoria for 118 on day one.
But Bushrangers opener Aaron Finch said if they can build a lead of more than 150 before lunch on Monday, Victoria would have a chance. The keys for Victoria will be spinners Fawad Ahmed and Jon Holland, while Finch said SA batsmen Michael Klinger and Phil Hughes must fall cheaply.
“This is why we batted first on a good wicket,” Finch said. “If we can get our lead up above 150, we’re confident that we can bowl them out. If we knock them (Klinger and Hughes) over first, hopefully there are some jitters in their camp and we’ll see how we go.”
When Glenn Maxwell was dismissed for 82 after tea, Victoria were 6-294 and it looked as though SA would start their second innings before stumps. SA had waited 29 overs before taking the new ball as they tried to exploit some reverse swing.
Gary Putland (3-93) bowled Maxwell in the first over with the new ball. Victoria were 8-310, but Holland’s unbeaten 32 from 30 balls in a 43-run stand with Scott Boland (13no) boosted the home side’s prospects.
Earlier, Finch top-scored with 97 as the Australian one-day and T20 representative finally made Shield runs. He faced 248 balls – the most in his first-class career. That is also more deliveries than he had played altogether in his previous 13 Shield innings.
Asked about the glaring difference in form between first-class cricket and the shorter forms of the game, Finch smiled and said he had “no idea”. “If I had any answers, I would have worked it out a long time ago,” he said.
“Obviously when you get in a bit of a rut, it becomes quite mental. “There are some technical things I’ve been working on, that had to change slightly.”
At the WACA Ground in Perth, Western Australia are fighting hard in their second innings to avoid an outright defeat against Queensland after day three.
Queensland took a 147-run lead on the first innings and then had WA in trouble at 2-46 in their second innings, but the Warriors knuckled down to finish the day 35 runs in front with seven wickets in hand.
Captain Adam Voges (90 not out) and Shaun Marsh (32no) ensured the home side could at least hope to avoid a loss, moving the Warriors to 3-182 by the close of play.
Queensland were all out 401 after lunch to take a first innings lead of 147.
That was in large part due to former WA batsman Luke Pomersbach who starred with 159 in his first match of the season.
The 29-year-old only came in as a late replacement for the injured Greg Moller but made the most of it – his runs coming from 281 deliveries and including 21 boundaries and two sixes.
Usman Khawaja (64) and captain James Hopes (50) chipped in for the Bulls, Michael Hogan best of the WA bowlers with 3-69.
The Bulls then made early inroads into WA’s top order.
Luke Towers, who came into the WA team to replace Marcus North following the death of his older brother in an accident on Friday, was out first ball he faced, caught behind by Chris Hartley off the bowling of Luke Feldman.
Then John Rogers’ sub-par form at No.3 continued when he aggressively went after Nathan Hauritz, only to be stumped by Hartley.
Struggling at 2-46, Voges entered the fray, cracking 13 boundaries in a well-paced knock.
Opener Cameron Bancroft did fall for 38 along the way when caught behind off Hopes at 3-117, but Voges’ and Marsh’s 65-run partnership set the Warriors up with some potential options for the final day.
Queensland skipper Hopes knows that early WA wickets on day four will be crucial to the Bulls’ chances of getting their first six points of the season, but he couldn’t be happier with the return in the match of Pomersbach.
“We thought it was a pretty good time to bring him back into the set up with the Big Bash coming up and we expect him to be a big part of the next six Shield games for us plus the Big Bash. I’m excited by his addition to our team and what he brings us.
“We were going to bat him three or four, but he jumped at the chance to open and he wanted to do it.
“He has a very solid technique against the new ball and he’s a good player of fast bowling so it’s probably a good spot for him.”