Given the size of their lead heading into the final day, spectators would have been forgiven for expecting an overnight declaration from Western Australia, but instead it was Shaun Marsh and Cam Green striding to the crease to begin play on Tuesday morning.
Their stay didn’t last long however, with Marsh calling time on the innings just three overs into play. Perhaps a tactic to unsettle the Redbacks openers from the outset, the 20 runs added set South Australia 383 for an unlikely victory, while leaving essentially an entire day’s play on the table.
If it was a premeditated plan, the wicket of Henry Hunt for a duck on the third ball of the innings made it look like a clever one. Not long later, when Brad Davis failed to get back to safety following an inspired piece of fielding from Cameron Gannon, the day suddenly looked even longer for the Redbacks.
Given the chaotic nature of the opening session, it was crucial for South Australia to find a calming influence, and it arrived in the form of Travis Head. In conjunction with first-innings century-maker Jake Weatherald, the skipper batted through to the lunch break, steeling himself for a long stay in the middle.
Already the owner of a century and a five-wicket haul in the contest, Ashton Agar took the ball after lunch for the visitors and immediately targeted the rough under the eyes of the two Redbacks left-handers. Worryingly for Head and Weatherald, occasionally a ball would trampoline off the deck before keeping low the very next delivery. Weatherald looked to counter with aggression, but after several close LBW shouts were turned down, his luck run out when playing back to the spinner, caught in front and given without hesitation by the controlling umpire.
Cooper was the next to go, chopping on to give Lance Morris his debut Shield wicket, sure to be a treasured memory of a fixture that also included a classic catch on the boundary from the big quick.
Following 105 balls of concentration, and just moments after ticking his total past 50, Travis Head then flashed at a short and wide one sent down by Matthew Kelly that rolled off the edge into the waiting gloves of Josh Inglis, reducing his side to 5/126 with plenty of overs left in the day.
From 2/74 at lunch, the Redbacks had fallen to 5/140 by tea and faced a difficult final session as they looked to fight out a draw.
With 39 overs to play in the evening session, wicketkeeper Harry Nielsen and 19-year-old Liam Scott were presented with a chance to secure the draw for their side and both displayed strong defences from the outset. As Western Australian fieldsmen continued to creep closer to the bat, Nielsen and Scott fought hard, steadily ticking off wicketless overs before Gannon eventually claimed Nielsen for a defiant 18 from 88 deliveries.
Nick Winter then joined Scott in the resistance and saw out 47 balls of his own before handing the baton to Chadd Sayers with an hour left on the clock. After 95 balls faced, Scott couldn't keep out a pearler of a delivery from Matthew Kelly and the umpire was quick to adjudge the allrounder LBW. Wes Agar then took his turn but had his stumps rattled by Gannon before Sayers edged one to second slip and WA claimed the victory with 9.3 overs to spare.