Marsh Sheffield Shield 2020-21
Dual leggies spin Queensland to last-gasp Shield win
Leggies Mitchell Swepson and Marnus Labuschagne spin their way through Tasmania's lower order in nail-biting Marsh Sheffield Shield finish
Andrew Ramsey at Gladys Elphick Park
13 October 2020, 05:42 PM AEST
It took Queensland until the final hour of their opening Marsh Sheffield Shield match of the summer to break open Tasmania's dogged batting, but ultimately dual leggies Mitchell Swepson and Marnus Labuschagne spun the Bulls to an innings and 59-run victory in a tense final hour.
Queensland entered the last day at Gladys Elphick Park in Adelaide needing seven Tasmania wickets while the Tigers were a distant 193 runs in deficit, with their hopes of forcing a draw increasingly slim after losing key wickets either side of lunch.
But some heroic resistance from inexperienced seamer Nathan Ellis (31 from 112) and relocated veteran Peter Siddle (an unbeaten 12 from 85 balls faced) raised the prospect of a gripping stalemate as Queensland pushed urgently for full points.
The Bulls began the final hour, in which a minimum of 16 overs were to be bowled under languid early spring sunshine and needing three wickets to close out a match they had dominated since the first morning.
The introduction of Labuschagne into the attack to bowl in tandem with fellow leggie Swepson proved the key, with the Test batter – whose 167 (dropped three times) in Queensland's innings proved the difference between the teams – claiming Ellis's wicket to a sharp slip catch by Usman Khawaja.
Queensland then crowded Tasmania's last three batters, with up to eight close catchers hovering around the stumps with several of them on their knees to reduce any shadow cast in the late afternoon sun.
Swepson then had Jackson Bird trapped lbw in his next over, and after Siddle and last man Riley Meredith hung in for a further seven overs, he speared a full length ball through Meredith's defence to clinch the win with less than eight overs to go before stumps were pulled.
How good is this? The moment @MitchSwepson bowled @qldcricket to victory! #SheffieldShield pic.twitter.com/wQRzB1AOn8— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) October 13, 2020
The wicket sparked joyous celebrations for the Bulls, as they ran to embrace Swepson who finished the innings with 4-66 from 45.2 overs.
"We knew we had one hour and we had two spinners going, so I think we would have bowled around 22 overs if we had the whole hour – we were churning through them," Queensland skipper Usman Khawaja said tonight.
"There was a bit of turn in the wicket, and Sweppo (Swepson) bowled beautifully the whole game and then Marnie (Labuschagne) was bowling well at the end.
"Pretty attacking fields, it was a bit like being in the backyard and a bit going on so it was a bit of fun.
"I told the boys not to get too far ahead of themselves, to stay calm and we'll get a chance here and there and that it would be hard for the new guy coming in, which it was."
Interviewed at the close of day three, Tasmania allrounder Beau Webster indicated his team's ambition heading into the final day was to save the game in the knowledge they had neither time nor available resources to set Queensland a target.
The strategy they would employ to achieve that outcome paid dividends for most of the morning session as opener Jordan Silk (56 off 201 balls) and Jake Doran (36 off 155) dropped anchor on a pitch that remained true despite the occasional delivery staying low.
The pair scored at barely a run per over against the nagging accuracy of the Bulls' seamers and Swepson's probing leg spin.
While Xavier Bartlett (four overs for two runs), Michael Neser (five overs for eight) and Mark Steketee (six overs for four) proved the most parsimonious, it was allrounder Jack Wildermuth who made the breakthrough shortly before the first adjournment.
Wildermuth, who played two T20 internationals for Australia during their tri-series against Pakistan and Zimbabwe in Harare two years ago, produced a gem to pierce Silk's otherwise obdurate defence.
Angled into the right hander, it veered further off the surface and clattered into the opener's off-stump which saw Test skipper Tim Paine at the crease for a tricky quarter-hour session before lunch.
Paine was the model of stoic defence either side of the break despite the regular chirping from his Australia teammate Labuschagne who kept alerting his national captain to the prospect of a "shooter" on the fourth day pitch.
Paine maintained his counsel and concentration in a stubborn fifth-wicket partnership with Doran that yielded 15 runs in as many overs – eight of those coming from two sweetly timed pull shots from the Test skipper that found the boundary – before Bartlett produced his timely double strike.
The delivery that removed Doran pitched perilously close to leg stump, and trapped the left-hander on the crease prompting umpire Bruce Oxenford to raise his finger.
However, there was no debate over the peach that accounted for Paine in his next over.
Fired in full, it had the captain pressing forward to defend his middle and leg stumps, only for the ball to move away late and clip the off peg.
With half of Tasmania's batters back in the demountable hut midway through the day, and the Tigers needing to more than double their score to make Queensland bat again, the Bulls appeared set to steamroll to their 12th Shield win over Tasmania from their past 13 meetings.
But 26-year-old Ellis, in just his third Shield appearance, teamed with all-rounder Webster to survive more than 23 overs – in which time the pair added 38 runs, of which Ellis contributed 10 – before Swepson struck.
His well-flighted leg break from wide on the crease lured Webster forward only for the outside edge to loop gently to Khawaja at slip.
It proved a far more straightforward offering than the one Khawaja claimed to dismiss Ellis, and set in train the Bulls surge to a deserved if close-run win.
"Very close, but I think what we can take out of this is the fight we showed today," Tasmania opener Alex Doolan said at game's end
"To be largely outplayed for a majority of the game, but to turn up today and especially late show some real character with the bat to fight it out and get within 20 minutes of salvaging a draw was a real positive.
"It was largely done by our middle order and our tail, it was really, really pleasing and just shows the character of the team.
"We're still very disappointed that we lost.
'We came here expecting to win games, knowing we're a good side and this game won't change that attitude."
Queensland XI: Joe Burns, Bryce Street, Marnus Labuschagne, Usman Khawaja (c), Matt Renshaw, Jimmy Peirson (wk), Jack Wildermuth, Michael Neser, Mark Steketee, Xavier Bartlett, Mitchell Swepson
Tasmania XI: Jordan Silk, Alex Doolan, Charlie Wakim, Ben McDermott, Jake Doran, Tim Paine (c, wk), Beau Webster, Nathan Ellis, Peter Siddle, Jackson Bird, Riley Meredith