Tasmania looked intent on playing a slow-and-steady brand of cricket on day three before South Australia claimed two big wickets.
The South Australian attack has punished Tasmania for its slow-and-steady tactics on day three, with Ashes hopeful Travis Head picking up one of two quick wickets in the dying minutes before lunch.
The Taswegians managed only 79 runs in 2½ hours of cricket and their defensive game plan began to unravel spectacularly as the South Australians burned through two of the side’s remaining three specialist batters in the space of four balls.
It was a lineball lbw call that sent former Aussie international Ben McDermott (45) packing agonisingly short of his third half-century of the summer.
With the new ball imminent, the Tigers could ill afford to lose another wicket before lunch, but Head, who disappointed with the bat in the first innings, piled on the pain.
The Tigers looked at short odds to pass the Redbacks’ total of 220 on day three, but with six wickets down and the Jordan Silk/Beau Webster partnership yet to get off the ground, the momentum has swung dramatically.
Skipper Beau Webster (1) faced only three deliveries with the new ball before edging straight to wicketkeeper Alex Carey to keep the carnage going.
HENRY IN THE HUNT
A second straight century from South Australian opener Henry Hunt thrust his name up in lights after his captain Travis Head trudged off Bellerive Oval when his bails were sent flying knowing the opportunity missed as the race for an Ashes spot tightens up.
Like Usman Khawaja did in Queensland to reinforce his Ashes credentials, Hunt defied bowler friendly conditions, and wickets falling around him, to make 134 against Tasmania in Hobart.
For 24-year-old Hunt it was a fifth first class century in his 20th Sheffield Shield appearance for the Redbacks and his third in five games, going back to the last clash of last season.
Hunt, who has 242 runs in his past two Shield innings, could yet get the call to travel to Brisbane, a trip Head is certain to make despite being dismissed for just 14, later this month for the “possibles v probables” clash between Australian players before the opening Ashes Test at the Gabba.
Head’s quest to fill the number five spot in the Test batting line-up, which national selection chairman George Bailey said was “certainly open”, took a setback when he was bowled for just 14, although it may not be a death knell with Khawaja looming large.
An early season 163 against Queensland and a mammoth 230 in a one-day game helps his cause, but the left-hander’s 14 on a bowler-friendly wicket in Hobart came after four other Sheffield Shield innings that yielded only 108 runs.
Instead it was teammate Hunt who stood tall making 134 as former Test quick Peter Siddle showed there was much life in the old dog yet.
The match was evenly poised at stumps after a wicket to start what was the final over of the day, when Tasmanian opener Tim Ward was out for a stubborn 29 off 102 balls, left the home team at 3-102, 118 runs behind with two days to play.
Hunt scored 134 of SA’s 220 after Siddle (4-42) pounced in the bowler-friendly conditions with four wickets after another short rain delay in the opening session.
Rested from last week’s trip to Queensland, despite taking five second-innings wickets to guide Tasmania to a big win over WA last month, Siddle took his Shield haul to 11 wickets.
The recently turned 36-year-old, in his second season for Tasmania after not being offered a contract at Victoria for the 2021-21 season, now sits in the top 10 wicket-takers for the season.
DAY ONE WASHED OUT
Travis Head will have to wait until day two to offer his answer to the Ashes challenge set down by Usman Khawaja after rain ruined the opening day of South Australia’s Sheffield Shield clash with Tasmania in Hobart.
Only 15 overs were bowled as conditions closed in on the Bellerive Oval, enough for the home team to claim two wickets with veteran quick Peter Siddle continuing his career renaissance in Tasmania, removing in-form Redback Jake Carder.
Both teams held a minute’s silence before the game to honour the memory of long-serving SACA chief executive Keith Bradshaw, who died this week, before the rain set in early.
Head, one of a short list of contenders to bat in Australia’s middle order in the opening Ashes Test in Brisbane, survived 12 balls when play resumed for a short period, to be not out when stumps was called, his team 2-27, with a chance to score big on Friday.
On the same day national selection chairman George Bailey said the number five position in the Test line-up was “certainly open”, Head could only watch on as a potential rival, Usman Khawaja, made the sort of 70 on a green-top at the Gabba which was worth at least 100.
Head, with a huge Shield century and a one-day double-hundred of his own already this summer, made just nine and 28 in his last two Shield innings and needs another big one to reaffirm his place in the Test conversation.
On the back of his sterling form at the T20 World Cup, Mitch Marsh’s name has been thrown around as a potential Test selection, to give a one-two batting and bowling punch with rookie Cameron Green batting at five, and Marsh at six.
With an average of 39.75 from his 19 Tests, with two centuries, Head sits well above Marsh, who averages just 25 from his 32 appearances in a baggy green, on numbers alone.
Marsh also has not played a red-ball game since making scores of 24 and 22 in a Sheffield Shield loss to Tassie in April.