What appears to be a gentlemen’s agreement between skippers George Bailey and Peter Nevill has breathed life into a JLT Sheffield Shield clash that had seemed destined to end in a dull draw.
Heavy rain looked to have washed away hopes of a win for either team in the NSW-Tasmania clash at the SCG, after only 4.3 overs of play were possible on the third day.
LIVE: NSW Blues v Tasmania
But two declarations within the space of 20 minutes on the fourth morning, seemingly pre-arranged by captains Nevill and Bailey, set up an intriguing final day where Tasmania need 350 to win from 103 overs.
NSW were on top in the match heading into day four, with Tasmania 4-115 in their first innings and trailing the Blues - who declared their first innings on 9-442 - by 327 runs.
The Tigers declared on their overnight total before the Blues followed suit after just four overs of their second innings, leaving the door ajar for the hosts to take the 10 wickets they need for victory.
Bailey’s declaration after 49.3 overs also meant both teams could not accrue any further bonus points in Tasmania’s first innings; batting teams receive 0.01 of a point for every run scored after reaching 200 in the first 100 overs of their first innings, while bowling teams get 0.1 point for every wicket inside the first 100 overs.
NSW quick Trent Copeland had forecast the manufactured declarations after play on day three.
"Judging from the type of people that George and Nev are, I think both teams will try to get into a situation where there is a good game on the line and both teams can win," Copeland said.
"It will be a day-three wicket but I think it'll offer a bit for the spinners.
"While guys who get in and bat well can still score runs ... a bit of the old- school SCG, which is nice."
Sporting declarations in rain-affected first-class matches aren't uncommon and the Sheffield Shield regulations do not discourage them, provided they aren't made with the intention of disadvantaging other teams.
Cricket Australia's playing conditions for the competition prohibit declarations that seek to "unfairly contrive" a result, but also set out that they do not want to "prevent captains from making aggressive declarations" in pursuit of an outright win.
The Tigers sat third on the Shield ladder heading into the final day on 9.50 points, while NSW are winless on the bottom of the standings on 4.19 points.
An outright win for Tasmania will see them pass Western Australia into second spot on the ladder, while the Blues would go ahead of the Tigers into third if they prevail.