Victoria 1 for 362 (Maddinson 195*, Harris 116) v South Australia
Victoria openers Nic Maddinson and Marcus Harris kept their names firmly under the Australian selectors’ noses with sensational hundreds on the opening day of the Sheffield Shield season.
With national chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns watching on at the Junction Oval, Maddinson and Harris put on a 220-run opening stand against South Australia to put Victoria firmly in control on the first day of their title defence.
Maddinson continued his resurgence back into the Test frame with his fourth Shield century in just nine innings for Victoria after losing his contract with New South Wales at the end of the 2017-18 season. He batted through the day to finish 195 not out off 291 balls with 21 fours and four sixes.
The left-hander revealed he still has Test aspirations but he credits a far more relaxed approach as the reason for his run glut over the past two seasons.
“I’ve probably changed my approach a little bit,” Maddinson said. “The ultimate goal is still to play Test cricket because I feel like I probably wasn’t at my best when I had the opportunity.
“It’s about doing what I can and I thought if I can be the best Shield player I can be and never play for Australia, I’d kind of be happy with that. That’s probably improved my batting. It’s not looking at a Test squad and thinking ‘I’ve got to do this to get picked’. It’s just going out there and playing. That’s something I’ve learned getting a little bit older. I wasn’t actually in (Victoria’s) Shield team for the first game last year, so my goal for this year was just to play all 10 games. That’s probably as far as it goes at the moment.”
Harris, the incumbent Test opener, put a lean Ashes series behind him and picked up where he left off in last season’s Shield final continuing his love affair with the Junction Oval peeling off his fourth century in seven Shield innings at the venue.
Harris was furious to get himself out for 116, guiding a half-tracker from Nick Winter straight to gully with more than 38 overs left in the day.
“I probably should have made 500,” Harris said after the day’s play. “I prided myself on last year making big hundreds. To get out 116 is a bit annoying but it’s better than getting out for 20.
“It’s a good wicket. It generally is here at the Junction. This is the first game we’ve played here with a Kookaburra ball. There was a little bit of the unknown in terms of how it was going to react. There hasn’t been too much sideways movement. It’s come on pretty well. A bit slow but it’s a pretty good wicket.”
Maddinson cashed in making his highest first-class score leaving his teammates in awe of what he has achieved since moving to Victoria.
“Unbelievable, I think it sort of just feels like he’s in cruise control,” Harris said.
“You can just see the freedom that he’s had since he’s moved down here and being in a similar boat to him I know how he feels. I think you can see that in his batting, he’s just batting so freely, timing the ball beautifully. He doesn’t seem stressed by anything.
“He’s batting really well. He’s another guy, he’s done everything right in the last 12 months I think he should be spoken about to be picked in the Test side again if the position comes up where they’re looking at him. I don’t think he could do much more.”
Both men revelled in the beautiful batting conditions, feasting on an inexperienced Redbacks attack, but both had some luck.
Harris was dropped twice. The first was on 37 when he flashed a square drive off Kane Richardson low to gully and Tom Andrews couldn’t hang onto the one-handed chance. The second came after lunch on 61 when he hit a low full toss from Adam Zampa back to the bowler and he spilled the chance moving to his right.
Both men edged Winter in the 70s but both edges fell short of the wicketkeeper Alex Carey. Maddinson should have been stumped off Zampa on 82 but Carey failed to read the sharp spin through the gate.
The Redbacks tried to pepper Maddinson with short balls later in the afternoon and it nearly worked. He edged Richardson on 111 but it flew through a vacant slip cordon as the two catchers were placed in the gully and two more were at short leg and leg gully.
They continued the tactic and Maddinson answered by hooking two massive sixes. He cruised to stumps alongside Will Pucovski putting on an unbeaten century stand to grind the Redbacks into the dirt. Maddinson will resume on day two with a maiden first-class double-century just one blow away.