The best day of Sean Abbott’s brief Sheffield Shield career has left NSW in a tough scrap for first innings points against Western Australia at the WACA Ground.
Relentlessly promoted by Big Bash commentator and franchise figurehead Mark Waugh as a player to watch, Abbott lived up to his billing yesterday by impressing with bat, ball and in the field.
Bowling slippery right-arm seamers, Abbott claimed three wickets in 23 deliveries to wreck WA’s middle order.
He also produced a direct hit from cover to run out Marcus North and cracked a career-high 34 in the opening hour as the NSW tail made hay on the way to 344.
The game was poised evenly at stumps on day two tonight though the presence of Adam Voges in the middle, unbeaten on 73 alongside the ice-cool Sam Whiteman (27 not out), and with a sturdy tail to come, suggested the Warriors could wrest first innings points tomorrow.
WA were 5-263 with another 82 required to take a lead though the pitch is so true that imaginative captaincy may be required to create an outright result.
The teams are four points apart and while second-placed South Australia are in a strong position in their match, WA and NSW meet again next month and may be reluctant to give one another an early advantage in the race for the shield final.
Voges settled the innings after Abbott’s strikes with an innings as measured and secure as his double century two games ago.
The proppy North departed for a sparkling 69 that took his season tally to a competition-high 828 runs after reaching his eighth half-century of the summer.
He was particularly savage on new spinner Manjot Singh with 18 runs coming from one over.
But North, who appeared to be favouring a calf during the latter part of his innings, was found short of his ground by the Abbott throw from cover after Adam Voges called him through for a single.
Marcus Harris was the other wicket to fall in the middle session after edging Abbott behind on 49.
Harris played some luscious drives but battled against Doug Bollinger and Abbott who both beat him numerous times during the absorbing and combative session.