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Familiar faces dominate on domestic scene

08 October 2015

Martin Smith, at North Sydney Oval


Martin Smith, at North Sydney Oval


South Australia were not the first side to be undone by the brilliance of Steve Smith and Mitchell Starc. Nor will they be the last

As the two teams lunched at the midway point of today's match at North Sydney Oval, the unfancied West End Redbacks were no doubt the team most pleased with their day's work.

Buoyed by a record-breaking victory over Western Australia on Monday, the South Australians had restricted a strong NSW Blues side to a total of 266, well short of par at a ground renowned for high scoring.

But it took just one legal delivery in the run chase for the optimism of the underdogs to take a hit from which they would not recover.

Just as he'd done in the World Cup final six months ago, Mitchell Starc removed the opposition's captain and best batsman with a stunning yorker in his opening over that may not have been the killer blow, but might as well have been.

Fresh off a magnificent double-century on Monday, Redbacks skipper Travis Head was clean bowled by a perfect full out-swinger that cannoned into the base of his off-stump.

Watch: Starc's fantastic four against the Redbacks(restrictions apply)

It started a steady procession of wickets that culminated in a 156-run victory to the Blues and their second double-bonus point victory in as many games.

The Blues had batted themselves into a hole, but it wasn't deep enough to prevent their star quick from digging them out.

"With the way (Head) played the other day, (he) is obviously a talented batsman who can get big runs, so it was important to get him out early," Starc said.

"Same could be said for Callum Ferguson and Tom Cooper as well. We knew we had to hit them early in that top order and I think we did that really well to keep taking wickets.

"SOK (Steve O'Keefe) and Nathan Lyon really tied them down in that second 10 overs really well. I think as a bowling unit we did really well today."

O'Keefe commits to the appeal and doesn't give up (restrictions apply) 

In many ways this match was a snapshot of Australian cricket's past 12 months. The shirts may have been blue rather than gold, but it was an all too familiar tale.

Starc took wickets and Steven Smith scored runs.

It's been the tale of 2015, and also a forecast of what's expected to come not just this summer, but the next ten years.

Starc was simply unplayable at times, finishing with 4-27 to go with 6-25 against the CA XI on Monday. He averaging an almost unbelievable 5.20 for the tournament.

Smith was steady throughout his innings of 72, needing to curb any temptation to target the short boundaries due to a steady stream of wickets at the other end.

The Australian captain perished just as he started to lift the tempo, falling in the 40th over the ball after he'd moved across his stumps and swept paceman Gary Putland over the O'Reilly Stand at deep backward square leg.

And the Blues needed their two superstar players to pull them out of a bind after an uninspiring performance with the bat.

It took a ripper catch to dismiss the Australia skipper (restrictions apply)

Anyone who doubted NSW's favouritism for this Matador BBQs One-Day Cup needed to only look at the players who sat under the temporary canvas tents that acted as a makeshift viewing area for the two sides.

As the Blues stormed towards victory, Ryan Carters, Doug Bollinger and Kurtis Patterson watched on bearing yellow substitute vests and sporadically brought refreshments out to their rampant teammates.

Carters is NSW's reining one-day player of the year, Bollinger a veteran of 12 Tests and 22-year-old Patterson a highly-rated youngster best known for his century on Sheffield Shield debut in 2011.

Each would lay claims to being a walk-up start for most sides in this competition, save for perhaps Victoria. But they were all deemed surplus to requirements today.

The 11 players that were selected for the Blues have all represented their country at the highest level. Save the talk of Baggy Green caps in brown paper bags; this is one impressive outfit.

Star-studded: Every NSW player has represented Australia // Getty

The numbers are extraordinary. The Blues fielded a side with a combined 610 international matches of experience, including 186 Tests. The Redbacks side boasted just 43 matches for Australia, none of them Test match caps.

"It's something that NSW has done for a number of years," Starc said.

"When you've got blokes away on international duty, the guys that come in do a great job and are still right up there with the best in the country.

"And then when blokes come back from international duty it's an even stronger side."

For the first half of the match, however, David had the better of Goliath.

The Redbacks produced the ultimate team performance in the field, with no performer standing out from the rest.

Left-arm spinner Tom Andrews, playing just his fifth List A match, bowled tidily to finish with 1-44 from 10 overs, a dream performance at what is normally a graveyard for spinners. The promising Adam Zampa took two wickets, but was easily the most expensive of SA's bowlers. The pace trio of Kane Richardson, Gary Putland and Joe Mennie returned a serviceable 3-152 from 30 overs between them.

The underdogs fielded magnificently too, with Sam Raphael securing two brilliant run outs to go with two catches and Zampa producing a stunning one-handed grab to remove Smith.

Sam Raphael was deadly in the field for the Redbacks (restrictions apply)

That they capitulated for just 110 with the bat would no doubt hurt. But the Redbacks deny that a gulf in class was to blame.

"With the number of Australian players in the NSW team, everyone was really looking forward to getting out there and trying our skills against the best," said wicketkeeper Tim Ludeman.

"I don't think anyone looked out of their depth. We just got out, I suppose.

"There weren't any silly dismissals or anything like that. It was just one of those days that didn't really go our way."

About the Writer

Martin Smith is a writer for He previously wrote for Yahoo!7 Sport and Fox Sports.