Bushrangers downed by Bulls
Despite an unbeaten century to Matthew Wade in the second innings, Victoria finished the Sheffield Shield season with a loss to Queensland.
WHAT HAPPENED: The Bushrangers produced a big second innings but a major batting collapse on the first day still meant Queensland earned an innings-and-three run victory over Victoria in the last Sheffield Shield clash of the summer.
It all really went wrong on day one for Victoria in this game. Coming off a sensational victory against South Australia, the Bushrangers headed north full of confidence. However, the bubble soon burst as they were subjected to some sizzling bowling from young Bulls paceman Luke Feldman on the opening day. Feldman claimed 6-37 as the Bushrangers batting line-up struggled to contain the Queensland attack. In a poor morning for the Vics, the visitors were 6-21 before the Bushrangers new batting hero Glenn Maxwell scored 38, teaming up with Peter Siddle (20) for a 55-run partnership. Regardless of their efforts, when Maxwell became Feldman's fifth victim of the innings, it paved the way for Victoria to be bowled out for 119.
The visitors were always going to be up against it from that moment on as Queensland replied with 428 runs, with emerging young batsman Chris Lynn putting the Australian selectors on notice with a fine 172, while Bulls skipper James Hopes continued his run of sterling form since Christmas scoring 84. Returning to the side for this game, James Pattinson and Damien Wright were the two multiple wicket takers for Victoria. Youngster Pattinson claimed 4-128, while the experienced Wright finished with figures of 3-86 off an economical 32 overs.
Trailing by 309 runs, with over two days to play, the name of the game was survival for Victoria's batsmen. However, once again Feldman struck early in this innings, removing Thomas Stray as the Bushrangers went from 1-12 to 3-71 at stumps on day two. However, day three saw the tide turn in the visitors favour, despite the early loss of debutant all-rounder Alex Keath. Coming back to full fitness after a horror run with injury, star opener Chris Rogers came to the crease with nuggetty wicketkeeper with the score at 4-77 and the pair promptly added 90 runs for the fifth wicket as Queensland's bowlers were frustrated for the first time in this match. Despite a fine knock, Rogers lost his wicket for 73 midway through the final session, but once again the Victorian batsmen showed real steel as Maxwell came to the crease with Wade.
The pair combined for a 96-run sixth-wicket stand that took the Bushrangers through to tea. Indeed, the pair seemed to have completely flawed the young Queensland attack before that man Hopes produced the goods, earning an edge from Maxwell on 61 that was eventually caught on the second attempt by Andrew Robinson at second slip six overs after the final break. The writing was on the wall when Siddle edged through to the keeper just two balls later, completing Feldman's eight wickets for the innings, although Wade batted with distinction for an unbeaten 113. Despite his efforts the Bushrangers were bowled out for 306, three runs short of making Queensland bat a second time.
THE HERO: Matthew Wade
He may not be the tallest man in first-class cricket but wicketkeeper Matthew Wade has a huge heart. Against the odds, he defied some fired-up Queensland bowling to record his third first-class century and the highest score of his career. The fact he did it against the tide and with all the momentum flowing Queensland's way only makes it more impressive for the 23-year-old who can only get better as he enters just his fourth season with Victoria next year.
THE VILLAINS: James Hopes/Chris Lynn
Chris Lynn did some serious damage to Victoria with the bat as he posted his own highest score of 172 with the bat. But while Lynn also claimed two catches, he wasn't as much an all-round nuisance to the Bushrangers' cause as his skipper James Hopes. Although Hopes was overlooked for Australia's World Cup side, the all-rounder has showed an enormous amount of heart himself in leading the Bulls through a difficult season with flying colours. Having taken 2-27 in the first innings, Hopes scored 84 with the bat, teaming up with Lynn in a 153-run stand. Just to add some polish to his efforts, Hopes proved the gamebreaker on Saturday, claiming 6-89 as he ran through the Bushrangers line-up. It was Hopes that gained the vital wickets of Rogers and Maxwell along the way as he just fell short of his previous best figures of 6-50.
DEFINING MOMENT: The first session of play when Victoria slumped to 6-21. The less said about that the better, although perhaps an even more defining one for the future, was the character Matthew Wade displayed on a difficult day.
Matthew Wade: The wicketkeeper produced his highest first-class score, an unbeaten 113 and his third first-class century.
Glenn Maxwell: Having scored his maiden first-class century against South Australia, Maxwell continued his excellent run with the bat, posting his second half-century when he scored 61 on the final day. It's easy to forget this is only his third first-class game.
Chris Rogers: After a difficult run with injury, Chris Rogers showed his true class as he scored 73 on Saturday, his first half-century of an injury-interrupted summer.
THE UPSHOT: Some fine batting against the odds
Although the batting on day one was forgettable, the Bushrangers' efforts in the second innings showed real character. Despite starting the innings, staring down a 309-run deficit, the young Victorian side missing a host of stars like Cameron White, David Hussey and Andrew McDonald just to name a few, showed that the future is very bright for the Bushrangers as they made a defiant 306. While Wade led the way with his 113, he was ably assisted by Maxwell and Rogers in a clear indication this season may just be remembered as a fine start for the next generation of Bushranger stars.