Western Australia trounce Queensland to close in on final berth


Western Australia 310 (Goodwin 115, Whiteman 79, Bartlett 5-64) and 307 for 7 dec (Inglis 136*) beat Queensland 170 (Rocchiccioli 4-54) and 301 (Wildermuth 91, McDermott 59, Rocchiccioli 4-109, Gannon 3-49) by 146 runs

Defending champions Western Australia lifted to second on the ladder with one round of the Sheffield Shield remaining after a pivotal 146-run victory over Queensland at the WACA.

After having Queensland 81 for 4 early on day four, WA were made to work with Jack Wildermuth and Ben McDermott notching half-centuries before wrapping up the win early in the final session.

Offspinner Corey Rocchiccioli and quick Cameron Gannon combined for seven wickets in what was almost certainly the last day of cricket played on the WACA this season.

WA jumped past Victoria, who fell to third on the standings after losing to Tasmania in a thriller in a result that has the Tigers firmly in the box seat to host the Shield final starting on March 21.

It means WA and Victoria will fight for a spot in the final when they square off in what is effectively a semi-final starting on March 11 at the Junction Oval.

WA may tweak their line-up with allrounder Aaron Hardie in with a chance to return from a calf injury that ruled him out of the T20I series against New Zealand, although he could be picked as a specialist batter.

Experienced left-arm quick Joel Paris might be rested, given his injury issues over the years, which may open the door for spinning allrounder Ashton Agar to play his first Shield match of the season.

Agar has been unable to force his way into the side with Rocchiccioli having excelled in recent years, but WA will likely ponder playing two spinners in their frontline attack. Agar and Rocchiccioli have never played with one another for WA, but are club cricket teammates and close friends.

“I hope so,” Rocchiccioli said when asked about the prospect of Agar playing against Victoria. “I hope me and Ash can spin a web and that would be a lot of fun. We’ve got a good connection and we’re always talking offspin.

“I’m just really excited to hopefully get the chance to play a first-class match with him.”

Queensland, who were out of final’s calculations, resumed at 56 for 1 and hopeful of being able to bat through for a draw after Angus Lovell and Jack Clayton impressively dug in late on day three as the surface appeared to not have any demons.

But they were confronted by overcast and humid conditions as Paris and Gannon menaced to crush Queensland’s hopes quickly. Lovell and Clayton both fell within the opening 15 minutes of a prolonged opening session with Max Bryant succumbing lbw shortly after to a Gannon yorker in a decision he wasn’t pleased with.

Continuing his terrific season, Paris threatened on almost every delivery with prodigious swing as he bowled mostly around the wicket to the right-handed batters.

He also surprised with the occasional rearing short-pitched delivery and struck McDermott on the body.

The towering Gannon, who holds an American passport and plays in Major League Cricket, has continued to be a reliable option for WA when given an opportunity.

He used his height to devastating effect as it appeared Queensland might not make it through the session. An early finish was on the cards when captain Jimmy Peirson was bowled by Rocchiccioli, but McDermott and Wildermuth held firm as the sun emerged.

McDermott was in aggressive form and used his feet superbly to club Rocchiccioli down the ground for six and into the construction site amid the ground’s redevelopment.

It caused a brief stoppage, but when play resumed McDermott seemed unruffled by Queensland’s predicament until he nicked off a gem of a delivery by seamer Charlie Stobo early in the second session.

But Queensland again didn’t roll over as Wildermuth and Xavier Bartlett combined for a half-century partnership to frustrate WA. Bartlett fell, but the pitch seemed to be flattening under the sun with Wildermuth relishing counterattacking the second new ball.

His rearguard knock ended on 91 when he edged Rocchiccioli to slip on the stroke of tea to effectively end Queensland’s resistance.

It was the final day of Australian cricket for retiring umpires Paul Wilson and Bruce Oxenford, who received a guard of honour from the teams and a strong ovation from the sprinkling of fans before play.

Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth

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