Sheffield Shield round one, day one: All you need to know

BIRD IS THE WORD
Nanjing Night Net

The first round of the Sheffield Shield season had loomed as a bowl-off between Jackson Bird and Peter Siddle for the third fast-bowling spot in Australia’s XI for next week’s first Test against South Africa in Perth. With Mitchell Starc returning from injury ahead for NSW’s clash with Queensland at the Gabba, and Blues teammate Josh Hazlewood another likely starter for the WACA match against the Proteas, Siddle and Bird both arrived at the MCG for Victoria’s meeting with Tasmania as the two leading candidates to join the NSW pair next week, and were striving to impress on-duty selector Mark Waugh. Bird got first crack after Tasmania won the toss and elected to bowl in the pink-ball clash. He was typically economical and caused trouble for Victorian opener Travis Dean early, but took just one wicket as Victoria cruised.

SMUDGE STARS

Starc – restricted to playing half of this match as he is managed by Cricket Australia – and Hazlewood were also denied the chance to bowl early on day one after NSW were sent in by Queensland captain Usman Khawaja at the Gabba. David Warner fell early but Australian skipper Steve Smith notched a century, as did Kurtis Patterson. Luke Feldman impressed with the ball for the Bulls, finishing with five wickets.

TIMELY DECLARATION

Starc was preventing himself from bowling in a handy rearguard partnership in which he and Ryan Carters put on 52 for the eighth wicket. Smith declared however at 7-327, allowing Starc and Hazlewood a crack at the Bulls under lights. It meant an early crack for the pair at under-pressure Australian batsman Joe Burns. Charlie Hemphrey was then bowled by Hazlewood for a duck, setting up the tantalising prospect of Starc and Hazlewood bowling at Khawaja and Burns under lights. First Bulls wicket down… but Burns survives. Hazlewood clean bowls Hemphrey for a duck. Khawaja next man in… Bulls 1-0. Presure much?— Phil Lutton (@phillutton78) October 25, 2016FIGHTING FIT  

In good touch: Shaun Marsh staked his Test claim with the bat. Photo: Paul Kane

Left-hander Shaun Marsh was looking to prove his fitness ahead of the first Test in Western Australia’s WACA clash with South Australia after suffering a hamstring injury during the Matador Cup earlier this month. So far, so good, with Marsh notching 73 as the Warriors made a bright start to their campaign. His brother Mitch struggled though, making just 12.

MAXED OUT

Glenn Maxwell was unlikely to play in any of Australia’s home Tests this summer but was seen as a smokey for February’s Test tour of India. But in order to stake a claim for that series he’ll need to play some first-class cricket. It’ll be hard for him to do that as 12th man, where he was on Tuesday after being overlooked for the Bushrangers’ XI for the MCG match. Maxwell – who unsuccessfully sought a move to NSW during the winter – was understood to be shocked by the news.

SCAPE ESCAPE

No dramas: Queensland’s Usman Khawaja is still very much in Australia’s Test plans, according to Darren Lehmann. Photo: Chris Hyde

While Maxwell has something to worry about, Khawaja does not. Having claimed to have been a “scapegoat” for Australia’s failure having been omitted from the Test team following poor form during this year’s whitewash loss in Sri Lanka, concerns those comments would be held against him were allayed by Australian coach Darren Lehmann, who said Khawaja was in the frame to play in the first Test.

MAKING HIS ED

The strangest moment of the day came when former Australian opener Ed Cowan declined to play a shot to this ball from Queensland seamer Luke Feldman when on 10. The rest was history. Ed Cowan’s leave a few minutes ago, on a scale of 1 to Glenn Maxwell… #SheffieldShieldpic.twitter南京夜网/k1wOBR8hFa— Ethan (@ethan_meldrum) October 25, 2016

PINKER PINKER

The pink balls being used on Tuesday weren’t the same pink balls used in the Test in Adelaide last year. They are, in fact, pinker than ever before and include a more-pronounced seam (black stitching, not white) to see if that can encourage some more movement. Kookaburra has continued to work on the design and all of the players at the Gabba were keen to see how it performed. Darren Lehmann was keeping a close eye on proceedings but with only about 40 per cent humidity on a 27 degree day, it’s hardly a good guide for how it might play in the middle of December.

with Phil Lutton

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