Winning the toss and electing to bat, Redbacks skipper Travis Head top scored, collecting 76 from 164 deliveries before falling to Will Sutherland. Jake Weatherald looked in great touch at the top of the order for his 36, as did Alex Carey for 35, but with no individual able to compile a truly commanding knock, South Australia will be eyeing day two as a chance to muscle themselves into a dominant position.
Victoria will also be ruing some missed opportunities this evening after putting multiple chances to grass in the field, including the Redbacks captain. Despite the handling errors, Victoria continued to find ways to snare a breakthrough, with spinner Jon Holland the pick of the bowlers as he ended the day with 3/74 to his name.
A veteran and a debutant
There was no shortage of special moments pre-game, with South Australia and Victoria both presenting first-class caps to debutants following the toss. For the home side, allrounder James Seymour and spinner Todd Murphy got the nod for their maiden Marsh Sheffield Shield appearances, while for the Redbacks, Bradman Medallist Sam Kerber was handed his first baggy red.
In a touching presentation, retiring champion Chadd Sayers presented Kerber with his cap, number 644, in the presence of his new teammates. Sayers was emotional as he spoke of his love for the game that he has dedicated a wonderful career to.
“It is a privilege to wear this cap. Wear it with pride… Just give your all and go out and do your best.”
A touching moment before play today 😍 #SheffieldShield pic.twitter.com/qGnAgLzfNm
Three balls, two wickets, one momentum swing
Opening the batting for the Redbacks, Jake Weatherald and Henry Hunt got the visitors off to a solid start, navigating the first 20 overs without loss. Both batsmen were watchful early, combining a solid defence with an occasional highlight reel cover drive or crunching cut stroke to the boundary.
With the score 0/68, Victorian debutant Murphy was introduced into the attack, and his sixth delivery in first-class cricket served as the catalyst to a rapid shift in momentum. Deceiving Hunt in flight, Murphy found a way through the defences and into the stumps, claiming the maiden breakthrough of the innings and the opening wicket of his first-class career.
Veteran spinner Jon Holland then came on from the other end for Victoria, and it took him just two deliveries to have a wicket of his own. Promoted to number three for the second stanza of Shield cricket this season, allrounder Liam Scott played around a ball that turned sharply off the pitch and clipped the top of off stump. In just three deliveries, Victoria had spun the momentum of the contest their way and found a way to share the spoils of an eventful opening session.
Leaders steady ship
Reeling from the rapid loss of Hunt and Scott, the Redbacks set about consolidating the start through their leaders, skipper Travis Head and vice-captain Alex Carey. The pair did a good job of taking some of the heat out of the Victorian attack, but after compiling 70 runs in partnership, Carey was dismissed by Holland for 35 to have South Australia 4/168.
The opening day continued to yield runs for Head however, with the left-hander adding another strong individual total to a summer strewn with them. Head rode his luck early after being dropped on multiple occasions, but his stroke play was electric throughout, crashing seven fours and one mammoth six on his way to 76. It was a slower, considered innings from the captain, something desperately needed when he made his way to the middle.
Final session fight
Coming together with the scoreboard reading 6/230 with just 13 overs remaining in the day’s play, Jake Lehmann and debutant Sam Kerber faced a difficult proposition. With just the tail to come, the Redbacks could ill-afford another wicket before stumps, yet they also needed to hunt first innings runs.
Natural stroke makers, Lehmann and Kerber each had no trouble finding the boundary as they raced to a partnership of 45 runs from 66 deliveries; but with just 11 balls remaining in the day, Lehmann slashed one to Sutherland off the bowling of Perry and once again the game was turned on its head. Victoria were disciplined with the ball all day long, a fact reflected by all five of their bowlers heading to dinner with at least one wicket each. Kerber will resume tomorrow morning unbeaten on 25 in his maiden first-class innings, while Victoria will be searching for the final three wickets needed to take their turn with the blade.