Strong performances from openers Sam Whiteman (65) and Cam Bancroft (46) set the tone for the visitors, with Cameron Green contributing 56 hard-fought runs of his own before Ashton Agar and Josh Inglis steadied the ship as their side pushed past 300 on the opening day.
The starring role however, has to be awarded to Redbacks leg spinner Lloyd Pope, who went to stumps with 5/94 to his name from 21 overs.
Pope turns the momentum
A strong start from the West Australian opening pair of Cam Bancroft and Sam Whiteman had the Redbacks on the back foot early, but some magic from Lloyd Pope on the stroke of lunch turned the tide for the home side.
In support of solid efforts from quicks Chadd Sayers, Nick Winter and Wes Agar, Pope pounced in the 30th over to remove both openers in the space of five balls.
First to go was Bancroft for a well compiled 46 when Pope got one to turn the other way, collecting the inside edge of the bat before crashing into the stumps. Within the blink of an eye, Whiteman was following his partner back to the sheds after tickling one down the legside to the waiting Travis Head.
Just moments earlier, Western Australia were gliding into the lunch break at 0/106, but Pope’s efforts suddenly shifted the momentum to have the visitors 2/115 heading into the intermission.
Second session stalemate
As the middle session began, two fresh batsmen strode to the crease for Western Australia, looking to consolidate on a firm foundation built by their teammates. For the Redbacks, it was a case of hunting more wickets to find a way into the middle-order.
Sayers and Agar took the ball for the hosts and put several questions to the umpires, but all were answered in the negative. Pope, Winter and Liam Scott also put in the hard yards but were unable to add another digit to the wickets column.
Captain Shaun Marsh and allrounder Cameron Green were immovable for Western Australia but in a session of play were only able to advance the score by 72 runs. Keeping their wickets in the shed certainly saw the day’s play beginning to sway their way but the Redbacks remained well within touching distance of opening day honours.
Pope proves a handful
With the departure of Adam Zampa to the eastern seaboard, 2020 has shaped as a defining year for leg spinner Lloyd Pope. The 21-year-old has already taken meaningful strides in his career to date and he didn’t wait long to make an impression against Western Australia.
Taking charge of the first over in the final session, Pope snared the vital wicket of Shaun Marsh with more than a little help from Travis Head at leg slip. The skipper’s diving catch gave Pope his third of the day and he didn’t delay in collecting a fourth. New batsmen Ashton Turner couldn’t keep the edge away from a well-flighted leggie that ended safely in wicketkeeper Harry Nielsen’s gloves to have Western Australia reeling at 4/202. That would shortly turn into 5/215 as Pope pocketed the second five wicket return of his first-class career when Cameron Green fell LBW to a top spinner, ending his excellent knock of 56.
It is just the opening day of the season and there is much to play out in this fixture alone, but a confident Lloyd Pope can be nothing but good news for the Redbacks as they embark upon their Sheffield Shield campaign.
Agar and Inglis hold firm
Coming together with the score at 5/215, Ashton Agar and Josh Inglis brilliantly weathered the storm to finish off the final session, guiding their side to 5/300 at stumps.
The Redbacks gave their full attack, including a cameo from Travis Head, a crack at the duo, but were unable to shift them before the bails were knocked off to call an end to the proceedings on a beautiful Adelaide spring day.
Both players will resume play tomorrow with plenty of runs on the board, and without their resolute finish to the opening day’s play, Western Australia could very easily have been in a much trickier position than they currently sit.