And so to the cricket…
This match is a bottom/mid of the table clash between SA and NSW in the Sheffield Shield played at the Karen Rolton Oval in Adelaide. The Shield is the equivalent of the English County Championship and this is the final round of matches before the top two final next week.
Neither side will be in the final so there’s little to play for – other than pride and, in NSWs case, their first win of the season.
A pleasant warmish day (by UK standards) but the bats look ill at ease, bowlers on the money and NSW reach 0/46 in just under the 90 minute mark before MacDonald succumbs to a sucker punch hook for 21. Tbh he never looked comfortable and with a green pitch, cloudy but not overcast skies batting would never be easy until probably later today so his demise was not unexpected.
Hackney at the other end looks a bit more settled and is now joined by Sangha to take things forwards. He came and went and stand-in skipper Henriques steadied the ship to 2/73 at lunch. I suppose both teams would be happy with that. Cloud cover has increased progressively during the morning – not that there’s any threat of rain but it’s helping keeping both bowlers and bats honest. What will the arvo bring?
What I discovered later was that MacDonald was making his first class debut – even more pressure then!
Half way through the afternoon session and it’s still a good fight. SA start off with a few maidens before Henriques in particular but also Hackney respond with well crafted boundaries. However, Henriques falls for 34 to a catch in the deep and at 3/113, no one is on top.
Hackney goes to his 50 and the pace of both the innings and over rate steps up. The cloud cover is burnt off and the ground is bathed in pleasant sunshine for the afternoon. I was unsure whether playing a Shield game away from the main stadium would work but it does and I’m pleasantly surprised.
The crowd – small in number – is, I reckon, about 150/200 strong but given it’s a) a weekday, b) the end of season and c) nothing to play for, I suppose it’s a good turn out. I think we’d get bigger crowds in England for something similar but the whole thing is sheer bliss.
The best comparison I have is Fenners or The Parks in terms of the ground and feel but better weather and more intensity!
Tea is called at 3:10pm on the dot – no ‘32 overs remain before tea can be called’ and see NSW at 4/156. The crowd – such as it is – seeks shade as we now have blue sky ‘from edge to edge’. Hackney moved into the 60s but Davies fell for a brief 24 whilst Gilkes wants to get a move on.
An hour into the final session and Hackney has gone for 78. Gilkes and Edwards especially are batting as if they need to catch the last bus and push the rate along, helped by bowlers who look tired and poor part timers to speed up the arrival of the new ball. NSW 5/225 with an hour and a bit to go. SA need the new ball to work for them!
With the sun beating down for long periods, by this time of day you can begin to make out the pitch from the surrounding grass. Perhaps SA should have been a bit more aggressive earlier? Who knows? Hindsight is wonderful
Gilkes and Edwards were only parted just before the end as they plundered a partnership of 115, and NSW end the day on 6/299.
We’ll have a better idea of how good a score this is once both sides have batted but I think NSW just have the edge. But for me, it doesn’t matter; just the chance to see a Shield match means it’s pure bliss! And I get to do it all again tomorrow!