Today South Australia produced its best day's cricket in this season's four day competition, beginning by adding 93 runs in 15.4 overs, declaring its second innings at 7/366, and then bowling WA out for 230, 62 runs short of the target.
The match turned decisively in SA's favour in the first 32 balls of WA's innings as the top four (Langer, Rogers, Marsh and North) fell to the SA pace attack of Ryan Harris and Jason Gillespie. This brought back memories of the NSW match earlier in the season where the Blues were 4/1, then 5/12 but still managed to make the 139 they needed to win. 292 was a tougher ask, but Adam Voges and David Bandy regrouped, adding 199 for the 5th wicket before the
6/133 with the required run rate heading towards 5 an over made WA's task look hard, but not impossible. Voges did not bother to farm the strike too ostentatiously, and was content to give first Aaron Heal and then Steve Magoffin their heads. They punished some loose bowling from the Redbacks' spinners and it looked for a while as if WA's boldness might carry them to the outright victory they needed to secure a place in the final.
Just after tea Heal (29/ 28b) hit three boundaries off successive deliveries from Cullen Bailey, who then refocused and produced a ball which had Heal adjudged l b w. Magoffin was more circumspect against Bailey's improved line, length and spin , but he succumbed when Daniel Harris fumbled but held on to a low catch at slip. The end was then nigh, though Voges completed a very good century and Dan Cullen took the last two wickets to allow the Redbacks players to gather in an England-type huddle in the middle to celebrate their victory and, perhaps, lament the many disappointments of the season.
[The pictures above show Ryan Harris and Daniel Cullen bowling to Steve Magoffin and Adam Voges respectively.]
Tasmania defeated NSW outright in a match of big partnerships and big collapses at Hobart, while in a low scoring match at the Gabba Queensland overcame a poor first innings to defeat Victoria outright by 101 runs.
Pura Cup final
The final, to be played from Monday to Friday (!) next week, will thus be another Tasmania - NSW game at Hobart. Tasmania are a very good team, who have performed well all season and are deservedly well clear of the pack on the points table, but the Blues are expecting Simon Katich and Matthew Nicholson to return from injury. To claim the Pura Cup the Blues will need to beat the Tigers outright, a difficult but not impossible task given their experience (and maybe the Tigers' collywobbles). There's little doubt that most cricket followers outside NSW will be supporting Tasmania.
Media commentary on final
It's unlikely that ABC radio will be providing much in the way of commentary of the final as its weekday local radio schedules are built around talkback style programs with, apparently, a loyal following. Cricket followers for whom the World Cup is not only interest will need to rely on other sources, eg the Cricket Australia live internet coverage which, as a longstanding critic of its shortcomings, I'm happy to say has improved markedly to the extent where it's a genuine ball by ball commentary, with good descriptions of each ball and reasonably prompt postings.