Two quick Tasmanian wickets softened the blow for Test fast bowler Mitchell Starc who was left stranded not out on 86 by a declaration from NSW captain Peter Nevill which could yet prove a masterstroke.
Nevill called Starc and Sean Abbott in one ball after Abbott reached his maiden first class hundred, setting Tasmania 348 to win.
After walking from the field Starc hurled his gloves and bat in to the marquee set up as changerooms at Park 25 in Adelaide.
Perhaps he was still smarting from an earlier blow on his bowling hand, or he wanted a hundred which has proved elusive. Starc’s highest Test score is 99.
“I might have to go and give him a hug later tonight and get him some dinner,” Abbott said after play.
Batsmen have dominated the four rounds of the Sheffield Shield and to get players out on Adelaide’s hard and true pitches, you need to think outside the square.
In Test captain Tim Paine’s case, it was outside the square from off the wicket square.
As NSW built its lead over Tasmania in Adelaide on Tuesday, Paine threw down the stumps from extreme range while Nick Larkin was preoccupied pondering how – when on 162 – he could possibly play and miss at paceman Gabe Bell.
As the ball flew past Larkin’s edge, Bell’s hands went to his head in frustration then shot up in celebration as he realised Paine’s underarm had caught Larkin short. Out stumped Paine, bowled Bell.
Bowlers will take them any way they can in a Shield season dominated by the bat.
The Paine stumping was a bizarrely fitting incident in a topsy turvy match, in which the Blues are somehow in a strong position after being bowled out for 64 in their first innings.
Paine’s genius seized the initiative for Tasmania – only for the Blues to snatch it back with a 189 sixth wicket stand by Abbott and Starc.
Abbott plundered an unbeaten 102 – his maiden first-class hundred — and Starc stroked 86 not out as the match took another curious twist.
Abbott thumped six sixes and four fours as the Blues piled on 6-522 – 458 more than they made in the first innings.
It shapes as an excellent declaration as Trent Copeland struck twice to have Tasmania 2-26 at stumps.
Nathan Lyon looms large on day four in what should be a solid workout for Australia’s premier spinner a month before the first Test.
Tasmania paid a heavy price for dropping Larkin when he was 11 on Monday.
Larkin and Moises Henriques (113 from 216 balls with 12 fours) added 253 for the third wicket to raise NSW’s hopes.
But the Blues lost 3-3 – Daniel Solway for 14, Peter Nevill for one and Larkin – before Sean Abbott and Mitchell Starc pushed the lead past 200.
Beau Webster did a Colin Miller to switch from seam to spin mid-spell, only for Abbott to advance and hit him out of the ground.
Early in his innings Starc was hit on the left hand by a Riley Meredith bouncer but it didn’t hamper his batting as the partnership gave the Blues the upper hand.
Originally published as Starc left stranded as 100 beckoned