A supportive sea of spectators flowed into the city’s western parklands for day three of the Sheffield Shield clash and were treated to a strong performance from the home side against a backdrop of perfect sunshine.

The day belonged to debutant Jake Carder, who tallied a maiden first-class century, and skipper Travis Head, who notched a hat-trick of salutes on his way to a dominant 163.

The Partnership

Resuming play in the shadow of a scoreboard reading 2/164, Carder and Head looked to push the game forward immediately, finding the boundaries and alternating the strike with regularity. As the numbers ticked over at pace, the captain was odds on favourite to bring up his milestone first, but debutant Carder had no interest in noodling around the nervous nineties. The left-hander flew towards triple figures and brought up the magical milestone with a crisp sweep shot off the bowling of another debutant, West Australian off-spinner Corey Rocchiccioli.

Such was his batting partner’s delight, Carder’s feet left the ground amidst Head’s embrace, something that helped highlight a grin on the 25-year-old’s face that stretched from fine-leg to long-off.

Billed in the lead-up as South Australia’s answer to the number three conundrum, Carder exceeded expectations in his debut outing, finishing with 118 from 237 deliveries after striding to the middle with the Redbacks in trouble at 1/10. The opportunity to bat with Travis Head is something Carder is sure to reap countless benefits from, with the two combining for 231 runs in what could be a defining moment in the Sheffield Shield season opener.

For his part, Head picked up where he left off last season, a summer that saw him plunder the second most runs in the competition at the lofty average of 68.69. Western Australia had no answers to his aggressive style and were forced to pursue red leather across green grass for 215 deliveries, from which Head amassed 163 runs.

Eagle-eyed fans would have noticed Australian Chairman of Selectors George Bailey has been in attendance at Karen Rolton Oval this weekend, and it would be fair to assume that the South Australian skipper’s name would have made it into the notebook today.

The Finisher

On the topic of selection, the Redbacks coaching staff will be delighted with their whiteboard work this week given both debutants, Carder and Nathan McAndrew, each turned the game South Australia’s way through their superb individual efforts. Landing in Adelaide with a reputation as a powerful allrounder, McAndrew confirmed the scouting report by launching several deliveries into the flight path during the third session as he brought up a maiden first-class half-century.

Following his brilliant efforts with the ball on day one, McAndrew relished the task of piling on lower-order runs on day three, crunching an unbeaten 65 from 80 deliveries to give the Redbacks a 27-run first innings lead. As a winter of change turns into a spring of rejuvenation for South Australian cricket, fans can look ahead with confidence at the positivity bursting from the change rooms at Karen Rolton Oval this week.

The X-Factor

Not known for his exploits with the stick, Lloyd Pope will be required to weave a web with the kookaburra on day four if the Redbacks are to claim a famous victory, but that didn’t exclude him from having a little fun of his own in the batting innings.

While the leg-spinner's most important contribution of the day was undoubtably the vital wicket of Cameron Bancroft, snared in the dying light of the final session, Pope joined Carder and McAndrew in posting a new highest first-class score. Resting on his previous best of eight, the number 11 launched a leg side swipe to the boundary to rewrite the stats line before becoming the final wicket of the innings for a handy, and well-made 12. The value of those 12 runs becomes much more apparent with the understanding they formed the foundation of a 74-run partnership with McAndrew, an 11th wicket stand that drove the Redbacks into the lead.