Victoria go top of the Marsh Cup standings on a day marred by a ball to the face of South Australia’s Henry Hunt
Victoria's win over South Australia that has put them on the verge of a first men's domestic 50-over final appearance in five years was overshadowed by a sickening head knock to Henry Hunt.
Fielding at mid-off during Thursday's Marsh One-Day Cup contest at the Junction Oval, Hunt suffered a suspected broken nose having been struck in the face after losing his footing trying to catch a powerful Tom Rogers strike.
The South Australian was left bleeding profusely but was able to walk off the field to receive further medical attention from Cricket Australia's on-duty doctor, Chris Hasenkam.
Hunt, who had bled so much that ground staff had to lay sawdust down on the part of the outfield where he had been hit, was sent for scans not long after he left the field.
Redbacks coach Jason Gillespie had run straight down from the coaches’ box to the team dugout after Hunt got hit.
“He’s gone to hospital,” Gillespie told cricket.com.au after play. “He’s having scans, having all those medical procedures done.
“Chances are his nose will be pretty sore. We’ll just have to wait and see, and (then) assess.
“I was upstairs and as soon as I saw it, I started to run downstairs because that just looked sickening. You could see the concern on the lads’ faces.
“That’s a worry, first and foremost. His health is the absolute priority … hopefully he’ll be okay.”
Rogers (67 off 87 balls) had appeared distressed by the blow that had come off a Lloyd Pope half-tracker, but put the drama behind him as his 103-run opening partnership with Nic Maddinson (54 off 53) laid the platform for the Vics' three-wicket win.
“I hit it pretty hard,” said Rogers, noting that Hunt was “usually an absolute gun in the field”.
“I don't know whether he touched it or not. Hopefully he's okay, he's a wonderful guy as well.
“Hopefully the scans come back clear for him because he's got a really bright future as well.
“He was talking and responding and all that sort of stuff. It's obviously hard to know with concussion because it can come through delayed, but he's in the right hands now.”
The hosts lost an alarming 5-41 in pursuit of a bonus point that would have increased their chances of making a first Marsh Cup final appearance since 2018-19.
But lower-order pair Jono Merlo (14no) and Sam Elliott (8no) ensured Victoria got home with 35 balls to spare, sending them to the top of the Marsh Cup standings.
The Vics can secure a home final if they can knock off second-placed New South Wales at North Sydney Oval next week, though a defeat could open the door for Western Australia to knock them out of the decider altogether.
The result guarantees South Australia will finish bottom of the standings no matter the result of their dead-rubber contest against Queensland next week, capping a disappointing season after they were the 50-over competition's runners-up last summer.
“A bit disappointing – it’s quite an important (bonus) point, so it would have been lovely to get that,” said Rogers.
“It (would have given) us a little bit more safety and would have made WA need to chase a bonus point as well. We felt like it was pretty important, and we gave it a red-hot crack.”
Maddinson struggled during KFC BBL|13 on his return from a knee injury but looks a different player in Victorian colours, backing up his century in the recently completed Sheffield Shield clash against SA with a brisk half-century that he brought up with a towering six over the leg-side.
Fergus O'Neill, who also terrorised the Redbacks with a 10-wicket haul during the Vics’ three-wicket Shield match win, was again a threat as the paceman snared 3-38 including the early scalp of the man who loomed as the game’s star attraction, Jake Fraser-McGurk.
O'Neill's third wicket then left the visitors reeling at 7-132 and South Australia only reached 9-231 thanks to an 81-run eighth wicket stand between their two Harrys, Nielsen (61 off 86) and Conway (43no off 67).
Jordan Buckingham (3-36) was unfortunate not to break the Maddinson-Rogers union during the hosts' hot start, beating the bat on several occasions as the 23-year-old underlined his reputation as one of Australian cricket's brightest pace prospects.
Following Fraser-McGurk's explosive knock against West Indies earlier this week, there was palpable disappointment among eager spectators on Thursday morning when he was dismissed 15 minutes after the match's 10am start.
The 21-year-old who grew up in Melbourne's south-eastern suburbs charged repeatedly at his former state teammates, but got turned inside-out by the crafty O'Neill to be caught at cover.
SA's other key top-order man, Nathan McSweeney, copped a pearler from Elliott to be out for a quickfire 40 that forced the remaining SA batters into survival mode.
Will Sutherland, also back from international duties after making his ODI debut alongside Fraser-McGurk, bowled tidily to finish with figures of 1-38 before bashing 23 off 18.