Despite some dubious looking clouds in the early morning, the weather gods were kind, and players ran out onto Blundstone Arena under perfect sunshine for the final Sheffield Shield game of the season in Tasmania for the Tigers, against the fancied Queensland Bulls.
Tigers skipper Beau Webster won the toss and elected to bowl, no doubt hoping to claim the early wickets of dangerous top order players Bryce Street, Joe Burns and Matt Renshaw – and boy did the bowlers deliver.
The Queensland openers managed to notch up 40 runs before Sam Rainbird took the first of many wickets in what was the be a record-breaking performance, claiming Bryce Street (23) caught by Jackson Bird in the slips. Renshaw departed for 1, caught off the bowling of Rainbird again before the red-hot bowler removed Jack Clayton for nought, leaving Queensland 3-42.
Gabe Bell was next to get in on the fun, removing Sam Truloff (3) caught behind, before Queensland finally steadied, with the experienced Joe Burns and Jimmy Peirson managing to stop the flow of wickets, and stem the tide.
When Tasmania managed to strike again, it was once again Sam Rainbird – who claimed his fourth wicket when he had Joe Burns caught (28) playing at a fuller delivery, and then his fifth when he trapped Peirson (23) lbw, with the Bulls reeling at 6-86.
Bell destroyed the castle of Jack Wildermuth (5) with a peach to get the Tigers seventh wicket of the day, before Rainbird took over yet again – clean bowling James Bazely (0), snaring Gurinder Sandhu (5) caught behind before taking Matt Kuhnemann’s stumps out of the ground to finish the innings and remove Queensland before tea for 104.
Rainbird finished with blistering figures of 8-21 – a masterful performance which included excellent control of swing and length, and the ability to bring the stumps into play. The 14.5 over spell ended as the best ever figures in Tasmanian Tigers history, and the most economical 8 wicket haul in the history of the Sheffield Shield.
With Queensland dismissed for just over 100 and plenty of time left in the day’s play, the Tigers looked to press home their advantage, and openers Caleb Jewell and Tim Ward started aggressively at the crease.
Ward swang confidently and found the boundary twice through the offside – but a sharp delivery from Blake Edwards had Ward caught behind by Jimmy Peirson on 15. Mac Wright joined Jewell at the crease and the pair looked right at home – both finding the rope in commanding fashion before players left the field for tea, with the Tigers 1-52.
Despite finding the boundary again quickly after the break, Wright (22) was removed not long after, glancing a ball down leg which was taken very well behind the stumps.
Both Doran and Jewell came together to play swiftly across the next 20 overs to produce many cracking boundaries and really challenging the Bulls bowling attack. The duo was split when Jewell was caught on a solid 44 off 101 balls, after a length ball edged to first slip.
Silky made his way to the crease support the already strong looking Doran, and over the next 10 overs the pair looked good. It was Silk who came out firing smashing an impress 21 runs off 36 balls before he was dismissed after being bowled by Edwards in the final over of the day.
At the crease for the opening of Day 2 will be Doran (48*) looking to make a half century and Webster (0*) by his side.
Play will commence at 10.30am tomorrow morning, with gates opening at 10.00am AEDT at the Northern Gate.
After losing the wicket of Jordan Silk just three balls before stumps the previous day, the Tigers did well to solidify in the first session of day two. Jake Doran notched up a patient half century and looked like he was settling in for a potential three-figure score, before a sensational direct-hit run out from Sam Truloff saw him heading back to the sheds for 72.
When new batter Brad Hope departed for just two runs four overs later, the Tigers’ innings was potentially teetering, with captain Beau Webster the only specialist batter remaining at the crease. However, continuing on with his fine form with the bat that he displayed in Melbourne last week, Tom Andrews wasn’t fazed, adding 21 runs off 22 deliveries, which saw the Tigers heading to lunch on a respectable 6-279.
Unfortunately, Andrews’ luck wasn’t to continue after the break – he faced six more deliveries, before being dismissed without adding any further runs to his tally – however the Tigers still didn’t falter. Jackson Bird had an entertaining cameo of 11 runs off five deliveries, before the hero of day one, Sam Rainbird, came to join his skipper at the crease.
As Webster reached the 90s, the Queenslanders cleverly set the field in an attempt to stifle his naturally attacking and free flowing game. With only two wickets in hand, the Tasmanian bowlers were determined to stick by their skipper. When Rainbird was caught behind off the bowling of Blake Edwards, the worry that the loss of his wicket would leave his skipper stranded in the 90s was clear. However, Gabe Bell picked up where Rainbird left off, defending the ball and taking the single where he could.
In the end, Webster notched up his seventh first-class century in 140 deliveries – and it was after that when things really got exciting. Knowing his side needed to secure another bonus point to at least have a shot of making the Shield final, Webster ploughed on to his 150 in just a further 23 balls – all but eliminating the NSW from finals contention in the process.
Webster and Bell went on to build an impressive 87-run partnership for the final wicket, before the loss of Bell’s wicket – for a respectable 19 off 24 – signalled the end of the innings for a total of 422 – 318 runs ahead of Queensland’s first innings total.
The skipper finished on an incredible 166* in an innings that wouldn’t have looked out of place in the Big Bash, with a total of 27 boundaries, including 6 sixes.
Potentially with a match 10fa in the back of his mind, Rainbird picked up right where he left off in the first innings, clean bowling Bulls’ opener Bryce Street for one in just the second over of the innings.
Fellow opener, Joe Burns, looked decidedly more comfortable today, and reached a promising -looking total of 30 before Bell had him caught by Webster in the slips to send him on his way.
When Rainbird returned to the attack to dismiss Matt Renshaw it was a double celebration – a) because the dangerous top-order batter was gone, but also b) as it signalled his 10th wicket for the match – his first haul of this magnitude.
The celebrations just kept coming for the Tigers, when the very next over, Brad Hope dismissed Jack Clayton to claim his first first-class wicket. From there on in - in what was almost a mirror image of the first innings - for the next 40 minutes or so, the wickets just kept tumbling. Bulls’ captain Jimmy Peirson (9) and Sam Truloff (11) fell to Hope, whilst Jack Wildemuth (3) and James Bazley (0) were victims of Rainbird.
With the Bulls slumping to 8-83 nearing the end of play, play was extended for 30 minutes given the possibility of getting a result that day.
Keen to get in on the action once again, Bell chimed in to dismiss Matt Kuhnemann LBW for 4. It was fitting that Rainbird would take the final wicket and seal a remarkable 2 day win for the Tigers - dismissing Gurinder Sandhu for a nine ball duck, caught behind for Jake Doran.
Queensland finished all out on 87 to give Tasmania a win by an innings and 231 runs - the most dominant of the Sheffield Shield season. Sam Rainbird finished as the unsurprising Player of the Match - finishing with figures of 8/21 and 5/21 - to give him combined figures of 13/42 - the best figures ever by a Tasmanian. A truly dominant performance from both Rainbird and Webster with the bat delivered a truly memorable win - and one that spectators will remember for years to come.
FULL SCORECARD: cricket.com.au