JLT Sheffield Shield 2017-18
Starc, Smith find form in WA Shield clash
Test skipper fires to half-century for NSW after left-armer's sensational hat-trick against the Warriors
AAP & Cricket Network
6 November 2017, 06:43 PM AEST
Australia Test captain Steve Smith and paceman Mitchell Starc displayed more good pre-Magellan Ashes form in the JLT Sheffield Shield against Western Australia on Monday.
Starc (4-56) continued his sizzling start to the season with a devastating hat-trick to end the Warriors' first innings at 176, a deficit of 94 runs.
Smith added an unbeaten 74 to the 76 he scored in NSW's first innings as he helped the Blues to 2-166 - and a lead of 260 - by stumps on day three at Hurstville Oval.
Left-arm quick Starc produced a trio of ferocious yorkers which bowled Jason Behrendorff for 20, trapped David Moody lbw and rattled No.11 Simon Mackin's stumps.
He swelled his tally of Shield victims to 14 in three innings at an average of just 12.5.
Smith compiled an unbroken third-wicket partnership of 124 with Kurtis Patterson, who finished the day unbeaten on 60.
The Australia skipper struck eight fours and added a pulled six over midwicket off paceman Simon Mackin.
Opener Cameron Bancroft supplied the only sustained WA resistance, carrying his bat for their top score of 76, the highest score by a wicketkeeper in Shield cricket this season.
He batted for 286 minutes and survived for 187 balls against a NSW quartet that is widely tipped to comprise Australia's first Test attack.
He withstood the Australian Test attack wearing NSW colours, with none of Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins or Nathan Lyon able to make the breakthrough.
It adds an extra layer of intrigue to the debate around Australia's Test wicketkeeper for the Ashes, with Matthew Wade out of form with the bat - dismissed for 9 and 17 in two innings for Tasmania in their match against Queensland - while Peter Nevill has yet to cash in on his opportunities.
Bancroft was parachuted into Australia's T20 side against India for a whirlwind international debut, but was thought to be WA's third choice keeper behind Sam Whiteman - who is sidelined this summer following finger surgery - and Josh Inglis. However WA's decision to play four quicks squeezed out Inglis for this match against NSW, put Bancroft in position to underline the value of a batting wicketkeeper.
It's a situation similar to that Peter Handscomb found himself in on Australia's ODI tour of India recently, given wicketkeeping duties when Wade was dropped for a match. Handscomb is a reluctant keeper, however, and not seen as a solution at Test level.
Earlier, Starc struck with just his second ball of the day when he had Jonathan Wells caught behind.
Fellow paceman Pat Cummins (2-31) and spinner Nathan Lyon (1-39) each picked up a wicket on day three, but the other member of the Blues' Test bowling quartet, Josh Hazlewood (3-24), didn't add to his three-wicket haul from Sunday.
NSW and Australian opener David Warner was dismissed for five for the second time in the game.
NSW: David Warner, Nic Maddinson, Steve Smith (c), Kurtis Patterson, Moises Henriques, Daniel Hughes, Peter Nevill, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon. Trent Copeland (12th man).
WA: Shaun Marsh, Cameron Bancroft (wk), Hilton Cartwright, Mitchell Marsh (c), Ashton Turner, Jonathan Wells, D'Arcy Short, Jhye Richardson, Jason Behrendorff, David Moody, Simon Mackin. Joel Paris (12th man).