Qantas Tour of South Africa

Hilton's timing returns for all-round role

Cartwright plays a straight bat to any suggestion a replacement might be needed in South Africa as cover for Mitchell Marsh

Andrew Ramsey, at Gliderol Stadium, Glenelg

14 March 2018, 08:38 PM

If Test-capped allrounder Hilton Cartwright is in the frame for a call-up as cover for the injured Mitchell Marsh in South Africa, nobody has shared that thinking with him as yet.

Cartwright, who on Wednesday produced his best first-class innings of a "frustrating" summer, has been mentioned as a potential cover player on the Qantas Tour of South Africa now that fellow Western Australia allrounder Marsh is under a cloud with a slight groin strain.

And while Marsh is expected to regain fitness for the third Test that starts in Cape Town in just over a week, Cartwright's season-high 83 in the JLT Sheffield Shield match against South Australia at Adelaide's Gliderol Stadium was as timely as it was revelatory.

Australia's Bupa Support Team men's coach Darren Lehmann this week could not rule out the possibility of a shadow player being summoned from Australia should doubts persist over Marsh's availability.

On a like-for-like basis, that substitute would probably be Cartwright or another Western Australian, Marcus Stoinis, who has also struggled for first-class runs of late.

But in the wake of today's innings that buoyed WA's hopes of avoiding a bottom-placed finish on the Shield ladder for the first time since 1963-64, Cartwright – who has played two Tests for Australia – said he was unaware of any suggestion a replacement might be needed in South Africa.

Heartbreak as Marsh falls four short of Test ton No.3

And was so oblivious to such talk he wasn't even clear on the nature or extent of Marsh's injury.

"Mitch has got a big history of hamstring (injuries) but he's a tough bugger so I reckon he'll be able to pull through," the 26-year-old said, unaware that Marsh's current issue was with his groin.

"If they fly someone over, so be it but all that stuff is completely out of my control.

"I feel like if I went over I could definitely have an impact but to be honest, I'm just trying to focus on this game and get a win for WA."

Day one highlights: WA batsmen fire in Glenelg

Prior to today, Cartwright's season return with the bat was 423 runs at an average of 23.50, with a high score of 78 against New South Wales at the WACA Ground last month and in recent weeks he has struggled to reach 20.

"It's always nice to get runs, and it means a bit more when you've been struggling through a rough patch," he said after his 83 lifted WA to a total of 355, with SA 0-4 in reply at stumps on day one.

"I feel like I've been doing a lot of work the whole season, so it was nice to get some reward.

"It's been frustrating, I've felt really good in the nets, really good going into games, I just been getting out and haven't been building an innings very well.

"But I thought today, it was probably one of the best innings I've developed and grown from ball one."

Sent into bat, the Alcohol.Think Again Warriors found themselves immediately on the back foot when Daniel Worrall exploited the new-ball swing to snare a pair of wickets in his first two overs.

Worrall grabs five in Sheffield Shield clash

But despite a daunting scoreline of 2-2, the WA batters launched an unlikely counter attack driven by opener D'Arcy Short (35 from 41 balls) and then skipper Ashton Turner who plundered 79 off just 89 deliveries before he fell to a stunning catch by Kane Richardson on the square leg boundary.

That was when Cartwright assumed the central role, striking 14 boundaries against the Redbacks all-seam attack (having overlooked leg spinner Adam Zampa in their starting XI) in his 83 until he became Joe Mennie's 200th Sheffield Shield wicket immediately after tea.

The allrounder appeared set for his first century of the Shield summer but miscued am attempted pull stroke that was spectacularly plucked by Redbacks' captain Travis Head running some distance with the flight of the ball from mid-off.

At 7-255, SA entertained visions of restricting the visitors to less than 300, thereby vindicating Head's decision to bowl first and raising the prospect of lifting themselves from the foot of the ladder.

However, a feisty 86 (110 balls) from keeper Josh Inglis lifted the Warriors tally to 355, frustrated the Redbacks' bowlers and kept intact WA's hopes of avoiding their first Shield wooden spoon since the year that the Beatles played a concert in Adelaide.

Qantas tour of South Africa

South Africa squad: Faf du Plessis (c), Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock, Theunis de Bruyn, AB de Villiers, Dean Elgar, Heinrich Klaasen, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Morne Morkel, Wiaan Mulder, Lungi Ngidi, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada.

Australia squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Cameron Bancroft, Pat Cummins, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine, Jhye Richardson, Chadd Sayers, Mitchell Starc.

Warm-up match: Australia beat South Africa A by five wickets. Report, highlights

First Test Australia won by 118 runs. Scorecard

Second Test South Africa won by six wickets. Scorecard

Third Test Newlands, Cape Town, March 22-26. Live coverage

Fourth Test Wanderers, Johannesburg, March 30-April 3. Live coverage