On a picture-perfect day at Blundstone Arena, Tasmania (led by Jordan Silk in the absence of Beau Webster) won the toss and elected to bowl at Western Australia on what appeared to be a good wicket for the quicks.
Before play commenced, Tasmania presented debutant Brad Hope, coincidentally a Western Australian, with his first cap, an extremely special moment made sweeter by the attendance of his family. The young allrounder became Tiger #204, and it wasn’t long before he was involved in the action.
Tasmania got off to the best possible start; Gabe Bell had Cameron Bancroft (1) walking back to the sheds in just the second over, supported by an excellent slips catch from Tim Ward.
Bell wasted no time securing his second wicket; he had Jayden Goodwin driving and new man Brad Hope was ready with safe hands at gully to have Western Australia in trouble at 2-16.
Cameron Green joined Sam Whiteman at the crease, and was lucky to survive a dropped chance in the slips. However, he was not as fortunate second time round, as Lawrence Neil-Smith sent Green packing on 15 after a sharp catch from Ben McDermott.
Buoyed by the wicket, Neil-Smith struck again in his next over, removing Hilton Cartwright for nought with help from keeper Jake Doran, leaving Western Australia now really feeling the pinch at 4-47.
Josh Philippe joined Whiteman, who, batting well, managed to steady the ship for the away side. Philippe played cautiously while Whiteman pressed forward, and the pair reached lunch without loss with Whiteman (37*) and Philippe (6*) calming Western Australian nerves with the score at 4-69.
If the first session belonged to Tasmania, the second one certainly belonged to Western Australia. Sam Whiteman and Josh Philippe began to take control, with Whiteman bringing up his fifty soon after play resumed. The boundary began to come into play more often as captain Jordan Silk cycled through the bowlers, unable to find the breakthrough.
Tasmania finally fashioned a wicket chance for Philippe, but it was unfortunately put down by Charlie Wakim. The West Australian keeper went on to make his fifty, but Lawrence Neil-Smith managed to make the crucial breakthrough shortly before the tea break, breaking the stellar partnership and removing Philippe for 53.
D’Arcy Short joined Whiteman as West Australia went into the tea break far more well positioned at 5-154.
The joy for Western Australia continued after tea, with Short settling in and playing aggressively, while Whiteman continued to pile on runs. The stand-in skipper brought up an excellent century, a knock that steadied his side and turned the tide back in their favour.
Short completed his half-century not long after in just 63 deliveries, as the scoreboard started to tick further in favour of the away side. As Western Australia pushed past 250 without loss, something had to change for Tasmania, and a wicket came from an unlikely source.
Jordan Silk brought himself into the attack and had Short caught and bowled for 67, an excellent innings that saw WA sitting at 6-270.
Unfortunately for Tasmania, there was no respite with new man Jhye Richardson, who began scoring at a rapid rate of his own. With Richardson swinging for the fences but totally in control, Whiteman continued his excellent day, bringing up his 150 and playing through to stumps at 151*, while Richardson finished the day’s play with 43* off just 41 balls.
Western Australia finished the day 6-350, a far cry from the 4-69 they posted heading into lunch, and a credit to the excellent leadership of Whiteman as skipper.
Tasmania came into the morning session knowing quick wickets were essential, and Gabe Bell delivered immediately, removing the dangerous Jhye Richardson on 43.
Though not as successful on day one, Peter Siddle found his mark quickly during the mornings play, and clean bowled Matt Kelly before trapping Cameron Gannon LBW to have Western Australia 9-379. Knowing the end was near, captain Sam Whiteman decided to accelerate, adding a handful more valuable runs before deciding to declare at 9-405.
Whiteman finished on 176*, an inspirational innings when considering the context of the game, accompanied by Lance Morris on 10* when the declaration was called.
The Tasmanian openers in Caleb Jewell and Tim Ward knew the importance of surviving until lunch without loss, and adopted a cautious approach to avoid the possibility of an early collapse. The pair saw Tasmania through to the first break safely at 0-33, with Jewell (17*) and Ward (16*).
After the break, the two began to get their eyes in, and while not throwing caution to the wind, began to play more expansively. Jewell in particular got the bit between the teeth and started to attack, reaching his 50 before hitting the shot of the day, an extraordinary 6 over cover.
Not to be outdone, Ward stepped up his pace as well, reaching his 50 shortly before the tea break. At the final rest, Jewell (72*) and Ward (56*) had Tasmania 0-133, an excellent position to attack in the final session of the day.
Western Australia rued a couple of missed chances after tea, putting Jewell down at mid-on and in slips. The strong left-hander made them pay, moving into the 80s with Ward ably supporting. Strong play down the ground and through the offside saw Jewell into the 90s and Ward into the 70s, in a partnership that continued to impress.
Jewell held his nerve and displayed admirable patience before bringing up his 100, a fine knock that included 11 fours and a six in front of applause from the home crowd.
Ward moved into the 80s before tragedy struck; Jhye Richardson getting the break through to remove the ever-steady opener, departing on a terrific score of 86, scoring 11 fours and playing an immense role in the 187-run opening partnership.
Joined by Charlie Wakim, unfortunately Jewell was next to fall, caught at point on 102. The stocky left hander faced over 200 balls, and took advantage of being given a chance to push on and make a well deserved century – one that put his side in an excellent position and ensured they were not at the mercy of the visitors.
Ben McDermott joined Wakim for the final section of the day, and safely saw Tasmania through to stumps at 2-210, with Wakim on eight, and McDermott four. The heroic opening stand from Jewell and Ward, coupled with the efficiency of the Tasmanian bowling attack in the morning session re-balanced the game, and makes for a truly entertaining day three situation tomorrow.
The day started in disastrous fashion for Tasmania, with Jhye Richardson continuing his devastating form from day two, removing Ben McDermott, caught behind for four. Cameron Gannon then got Charlie Wakim for 16, with a ball that got more kick than the batter expected.
A lively pitch allowed Western Australia to get their tails up, and the horror show for Tasmania continued when Richardson got Doran caught in slips for nought, leaving Tasmania 5-218 and suddenly extremely shaky.
It was Matt Kelly’s turn to get in on the action for WA, removing Brad Hope for six with the assistance of his keeper, before also sending Lawrence Neil-Smith on his way for five, via the exact same method. Skipper Jordan Silk now sat at the crease with his side at 7-243, and knew it was time to step up.
Silk began to play with reckless abandon in a brilliant display of aggressive batting, and though Freeman (6) and Siddle (1) fell around him, he continued to play his side back into the game.
Number eleven, Gabe Bell, played an excellent holding role, rotating the strike and allowing Silk to reach an entertaining fifty, before pushing the Tasmanian total past 300; a number that seemed impossible an hour previously.
Silk eventually fell on 73 after the lunch break, leaving Tasmania all out for 317; a disappointing total considering their starting platform, but not as poor as it could have been considering the morning session.
Western Australia came in knowing the game was now in their hands, and openers Bancroft and Goodwin adopted a steady approach until the tea break, reaching it safely at 0-50. Seemingly in total control, it was spinner Jarrod Freeman who made the critical breakthrough, bowling Jayden Goodwin for a cautious 22 off 85 balls.
As can often happen, one wicket leads to another, and Freeman trapped Bancroft LBW on 41 to have Western Australia 2-72, and suddenly Tasmania had a little momentum.
Cameron Green and Sam Whiteman appeared to be steadying the ship, before Peter Siddle struck a crucial blow, removing the West Australian skipper on 13 - caught behind - his side now 3-96.
Hilton Cartwright joined Green at the crease, and the pair did calm things down, but still managed to keep the runs ticking over. Just as it looked like Tasmania would be denied a final wicket before stumps, Gabe Bell broke through in the nick of time, removing the dangerous Cartwright after a speedy 33.
Western Australia reached stumps 4-170 with a lead of 258 runs, leaving all three results on the table heading in to the final day of play. The tireless work rate of Jarrod Freeman, bowling 22 overs in a row, and the heroic innings played by skipper Jordan Silk gave Tasmania a lifeline, and a confidence that a win can be earned tomorrow.
The equation was simple on the final day of play – Western Australia needed quick runs before a declaration, and Tasmania needed to keep the lead as low as possible for their run chance.
It was a dream start for the home side, when Gabe Bell removed the dangerous Josh Philippe on eight, caught by Brad Hope. Hope then chose the perfect time to claim his first ever Tigers wicket, clean bowling Cameron Green on 54 in the very next over, leaving Western Australia at 6-184.
Lawrence Neil-Smith sent D’Arcy Short packing a few overs later, and Western Australia saw fit to declare at 7-226, setting Tasmania a total of 315 to win the game, in what promised to be an enthralling chase.
The hero from day two, Caleb Jewell, knew the importance of setting the tone early, and came out on the attack for Tasmania. Ably supported by Tim Ward, who was scoring consistently himself, Jewell wasted no time finding the boundaries all over the ground.
The aggressive play by the left-hander kept the run rate well above the required four an over, and Jewell reached a dazzling 51 off just 55 balls before lunch was called with Tasmania at 0-84, needing 231 runs.
All good things come to an end, and Jewell's aggressive play had him caught on the rope shortly after the break, leaving after a very valuable 60 off just 73 balls. Charlie Wakim joined Ward at the crease and immediately assumed Jewell’s role, playing confidently from the off and striking four after four.
The two progressed in solid fashion until Ward fell off the bowling of Short, departing for a well made 42 off 95 balls – a role that allowed his partner to express themselves from the other end. Unfortunately it was to be double trouble, with Jhye Richardson trapping Wakim LBW just 3 overs later for a valuable 37, but the Tigers were beginning to lose a little momentum at 3-149, needing 166 runs.
The tide of the game truly seemed to turn when Richardson struck again, removing new man Jake Doran on one, with the Tigers fate now riding on the shoulders of Ben McDermott and Jordan Silk.
The pair reached the tea break with the game now well and truly in the balance; McDermott (20*) and Silk (15*) had taken Tasmania to 4-181, and needing 134 to win.
A breathtaking final session began and one thing was clear – a draw was not on the agenda for McDermott or Silk. Both batters immediately went after the bowlers, with Silk in particular scoring quickly, playing a true captain's role and soon bringing the runs needed under 100.
Try as they might, Western Australia couldn’t break the pair, and the runs kept flowing; strong pull shots from McDermott and classy offside play from Silk started to tip the scales back in favour from Tasmania.
The skipper brought up yet another brilliant quickfire 50 at almost a run a ball, but just as the local crowd began to get excited, Richardson brought them back down to earth. The quick had McDermott caught behind on 40 off 69 balls – another excellent cameo from the power hitter in a 93 run partnership that gave Tasmania real hope at 5-258, needing 62 to win.
Brad Hope joined the ever-impressive Silk at the crease, and though he never really looked settled, was able to share the strike and keep Silk on strike. However, Cameron Green made his mark, and swung the balance of the game back towards WA, removing Hope for 10, and leaving Tasmania needing 47.
Lawrence Neil-Smith joined Silk at the crease, and as the overs passed, the required runs became fewer and fewer. Led by Silk, soon only 20 were needed. Neil-Smith began to contribute himself, striking boundaries and drawing Tasmania ever closer to a memorable win.
With just five runs needed, Silk clipped a ball for four, before smashing the final delivery to the fence to end the game, giving Tasmania a famous four-wicket victory. Captain, Jordan Silk, finished on 83* off just 100 balls, and Neil-Smith on a very handy 25*.
Western Australia were left to true leaving Tasmania maybe slightly too low a total to chase, but the effort from players such as Jewell, Wakim, Ward, McDermott and Silk gave Tasmania a deserved win – and one their fans would remember.
Jewell was adjudged Player of the Match, finishing with a total of 162 runs to his name across two innings.
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