Injured allrounder Hilton Cartwright and tail-enders Cam Gannon and Liam O’Connor helped Western Australia hang on for a miracle Sheffield Shield draw against South Australia at the WACA Ground today.
Cartwright carried WA on his injured back for more than two hours, combining for a pair of rearguard stands with captain Shaun Marsh and club teammate Cam Gannon.
Less than 24 hours after struggling to get off the field because of a lumbar spasm episode, Cartwright produced a defiant 122-ball knock of 25.
Two weeks after batting South Perth to a Premier Cricket T20 flag with a swashbuckling 64 off 27 balls at the same venue, Gannon (13no off 65) produced a different type of heroic knock as WA finished on 9-148.
Gannon and No.11 Liam O’Connor, who backed up his three-wicket bowling performance with a memorable zero not out off 11 balls, fighting out the last 4.5 overs to deny the Redbacks their first win of the season.
Cartwright produced a gutsy knock with few aggressive strokes, stone-walling the opposition bowling attack who resorted to short-pitched stuff and a bit of extra chatter.
The 29-year-old couldn’t even field on the final day due to a back issue, but was forced to come out to bat at No.7 with WA in massive trouble at 5-88, still needing to see out a further 45 overs.
South Australian captain Travis Head’s pre-lunch declaration on 9-230 kept all three results in play and gave WA a fourth-innings target of 332 in 75 overs.
Young seamer David Grant destroyed the home side’s top-order in just his fifth first-class outing, grabbing four wickets to spark a collapse of 5-53, while Daniel Worrall (4-30) did the damage late as the match went down to the final ball.
Grant did what no other bowler was able to do in 543 balls and 369 runs across three innings, dismiss run machine Cam Green on his way to career-best figures of 4-38.
After unbeaten knocks of 201 and 168, the Test allrounder was out LBW for a second-ball duck and looked surprised by the decision with the ball angling down the legside.
Fellow Australian representatives Cam Bancroft (30) and Marsh (45) were also among Grant’s scalps in a breakout performance.
But by tea time, any hope of a WA victory was lost with the score at 5-98 and only the tail to come.
It was a change in fortunes for both players in the match with Grant bringing up an unwanted century in the first innings with figures of 0-102.
Like Green, Aaron Hardie didn’t trouble the scorers as WA lost two wickets on 62 and another two on 88.
Josh Inglis (17 off 22) was promoted to No.5 in search of boundaries and managed four before hitting one straight to Henry Hunt at backward point off Grant.
Once Inglis departed, attacking mode swiftly turned into survival mode.
The visitors resumed on 4-142 and kept the scoreboard ticking over with Alex Carey (82no) and Harry Nielsen (67) reaching their half-centuries in the third and four overs respectively.
Nielsen had a slice of luck getting to his, with gloveman Josh Inglis dropping him on 49 off paceman Gannon and the ball racing to the boundary.
Gannon eventually got his man, well caught by Cam Green at gully, to end a 121-run fifth-wicket stand.
It sparked a collapse of 5-36 with the Redbacks’ tail crumbling in pursuit of quick runs.
O’Connor, who was wicketless coming into the final day, turned his game around with a brilliant spell in the morning session.
He took two wickets in three balls before knocking over David Grant with a perfectly-flighted wrong’un to finish with an innings-best 3-53.
The two states lock horns again in Perth on Tuesday, this time in the Marsh One-Day Cup.
WA’s next shield assignment is against Queensland at the Gabba, starting March 6.