Nathan Lyon and Mitchell Starc enjoyed a final red-ball tune-up before the Test summer to help NSW pull off the steal of the century in Adelaide on Wednesday.
In beating Tasmania by 145 runs at Park 25 No 1, the Blues engineered the biggest come from behind victory in their illustrious history.
The Blues’ 64 is the lowest first innings total they have turned into a win, surpassing the 76 in their maiden first-class match, against Victoria in 1856.
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Mitchell Starc was among the wickets for the Blues on Wednesday.Source:Getty Images
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Hundreds from Nick Larkin, Moises Henriques and Sean Abbott set up the one-in-164-year event.
With runs in the bank, the bowlers – led by Lyon (3-60) and Starc (3-52) — delivered the knockout punch on Wednesday.
Lyon took some punishment when Matthew Wade skipped down the track to stroke a flurry of boundaries down the ground.
But the off spinner found his groove when switched to the northern end, where the strong westerly breeze was more to his liking.
He snared Wade caught at leg-slip by Trent Copeland from a ball that drifted on the wind, then had Jake Doran caught by keeper Peter Nevill for four.
“Can I believe it?” Lyon said when asked after play if he was pinching himself at the match turnaround. “Yeah, I can actually.
“There’s a lot of belief in that changeroom. I was proud of everyone in the team. It’s a proud win.”
WE'VE DONE IT!! 🙌 #SheffieldShield
Statistically, it is our greatest comeback in history!
64 is the lowest first innings score the Blues have turned into a win.
WHAT. A. COMEBACK! pic.twitter.com/xHBP7P7nug
Lyon now moves to a Test footing. He’ll have a week off before resuming training with NSW ahead of the first Test in Adelaide on December 17.
Wade’s 156-ball 59 (seven fours) will surely end any doubt he will join Lyon in the Test squad when it’s announced on Thursday or Friday.
Starc took a modest 4-124 for the match but bowling 39.5 overs will likely pay dividends later in the Test summer.
Starc’s bat-throw when Nevill declared to leave him stranded on 86 raised plenty of eyebrows on Tuesday.
But Lyon said Starc was possibly the “least selfish” player he’d played with and the declaration turned out to be well-timed.
Ferguson departs with head held high
Forget about Peter Nevill declaring on Mitchell Starc, Callum Ferguson falling three runs short of a century in his final innings is the hard luck hundred-that-never-was story of the Adelaide Shield hub.
In his 147th first-class match and 275th innings, Ferguson was lbw to Mark Steketee for 97 as the Redbacks resisted – but lost – at Glenelg on Wednesday.
Steketee’s big inswinger might have been a tad high and might have been missing leg, but there were no histrionics from Ferguson, who left with a smile, striding through a gauntlet of fist taps from generous Queensland opponents.
Usman Khawaja congratulates Callum Ferguson after his epic knock.Source:Getty Images
“I can’t thank the Queensland blokes enough, led by Usman (Khawaja),” Ferguson said after play.
“To honour me with a guard of honour when I walked to the crease and then another guard of honour at the end of the game, well, that was unnecessary but really appreciated.”
Falling three shy of a 21st first-class hundred was unfortunately apt given Ferguson’s luck has often been out, such as when he was dumped after a sole Test in 2016.
But his final day in whites – he’ll continue in 50 and 20-over cricket – wasn’t without honour, as during his innings he passed Les Favell to move into fourth place on SA’s runs list.
Unfortunately, the Redbacks, like Ferguson and his hundred, fell just short of saving the game, defying the Bulls for 158 overs only to be bowled out for 385 late in the day to lose by 62 runs.
“I am enormously proud of this playing group,” Ferguson said after SA almost saved another game with a marathon second innings.
“Every time we’ve had to bat 150-plus overs in the second innings we’ve fought and taken it right down to the wire.”
Ferguson and Harry Nielsen added 218 runs for the fourth wicket to give the Redbacks faint hope of running down the 447 set by Queensland.
When Nielsen fell, also lbw to Steketee, for 113, the customary Redbacks collapse appeared a formality.
Ferguson fell three runs short of what would have been a fairytale century.Source:Getty Images
But Liam Scott and Chadd Sayers batted with a ton of guts to add 68 in 28 overs to deny the Bulls.
Scott was bowled shouldering arms to Steketee for 28 (110 balls), leaving only the Redbacks bowlers standing in the way of a Queensland win.
It looked like they’d pull it off until Sayers’s 122-ball vigil ended on 46.
Mitchell Swepson spun out the tail to deliver a thrilling win with only minutes remaining in the last session.
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