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Sheffield Shield ultimate: Fine Cameron Bancroft century puts WA in commanding position after day one

Cameron Bancroft has put WA in a commanding position in the Sheffield Shield decider against Victoria at the WACA Ground with a “special” opening-day century, but knows his job’s not done yet.

The in-form opener produced a chanceless first-class ton number 19, finishing the day unbeaten on 135 off 259 balls with WA sitting pretty at 3-290 after getting sent in what Victorian bowling coach David Saker admitting “we may have got the toss wrong”.

He will resume day two alongside nightwatchman Matt Kelly (3 not out) after hulking allrounder Hilton Cartwright (41) was out to Will Sutherland (1-66 off 20) second-last ball of the day as WA hunt a first shield title in 23 years.

Bancroft looked a million dollars from the get-go, playing several eye-catching cover drives among his 16 boundaries and setting the platform with Sam Whiteman (85).

The pair, who both played in WA’s last two shield final appearances seven and eight years ago which ended in a frustrating draws, combined for a 188-run first-wicket partnership.

“It was pretty special,” Bancroft said.

“It’s not every day you get to play in a shield final and I just wanted to get us off to a good start.

“It was nice to have a good partnership with Whitey and we’re in a good position after being put in.

“It’s very pleasing but there’s still a lot of hard work to come.

“We’ve been close to making the final the last couple of years and just missed out so that fire has been burning in us and we really want to put ourselves in a position to win the first shield we’ve won in a very long time.”

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 31: Cameron Bancroft of Western Australia bats during day one of the Sheffield Shield Final match between Western Australia and Victoria at the WACA, on March 31, 2022, in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)
Camera IconCameron Bancroft scored a half century in the opening session. Credit: Paul Kane/Getty Images

Whiteman fell to Ashes hero Scott Boland (1-59 off 23) in the final over before tea, 15 runs shy of triple figures, with Will Sutherland taking a sharp gully catch on a delivery agonisingly close to a front-foot no-ball.

The left-hander was a little more scratchy than his opening partner, especially early on to Boland, but grew in confidence as the day progressed to reach his half-century shortly after lunch with back-to-back fours off seamer Mitch Perry.

Victorian captain Peter Handscomb won the toss, but the WACA deck was significantly more batter-friendly than last week’s offering, where WA rolled the Vics for 114 on day one on their way to an innings-and-51-run thrashing.

“It was a tough day,” Saker said.

“We didn’t get the ball to shift much at all so that was tough and the wicket looked a pretty good one to bat on so we may have got the toss wrong but we’ll just keep going and keep persevering.”

WA skipper Shaun Marsh only made 12 before getting stumped off part-time off-spinner Matt Short (1-21 off nine), but not before reaching 12,000 first-class runs in what could be his last match.

His dismissal brought Cartwright, player of the match when the two states met last week, to the crease and he put on a quickfire 68-run stand with Bancroft.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 31: Shaun Marsh of Western Australia and Peter Handscomb of Victoria pose following the coin toss during day one of the Sheffield Shield Final match between Western Australia and Victoria at the WACA, on March 31, 2022, in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)
Camera IconShaun Marsh and Peter Handscomb. Credit: Paul Kane/Getty Images

Unlike the last time WA made the final seven years ago, also against Victoria, a draw won’t be enough for the home team to win.

If there’s no outright result, first-innings bonus points will decide who wins, with 0.1 points accumulated for every wicket taken in the first 100 overs 0.01 for every run above 200 scored in the first 100 overs.

So far WA have accumulated 0.9 bonus points for the match compared to Victoria’s 0.3.

WA will be looking to break a 23-year red-ball title drought and complete a golden summer which includes Marsh One-Day Cup, Big Bash League and WBBL trophies.

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