Ashes hero Scott Boland picked up where he left off last summer snaring a wicket second ball and three in his first eight overs in a perfect start to the new season on Friday.
Boland, who took international cricket by storm with an unforgettable 6/7 on debut against England at the MCG last summer, did it with both and ball for Victoria in Adelaide as he combined with century-maker Will Sutherland to put the visitors on top in their opening Sheffield Shield clash despite some resistance from Test stars Travis Head and Alex Carey
Playing his first red-ball game since taking seven-wickets for Australia A in Sri Lanka in June, Boland showed the weaponry which helped him to 18 Ashes wickets as he tore through the Redbacks top-order.
After bashing out an unbeaten 24 in a 50-run final wicket partnership with Jon Holland, Boland took the first three SA wickets and had figures of 3-14 before fellow Ashes hero Travis Head dug in for the home side.
Head, man of the series in the Ashes, was returning to the crease after a horror run in Sri Lanka where he managed just 23 runs in the two Tests in Galle. The left-hander made 76, and put on 83 with Carey, before being dismissed by Victorian debutante Fergus O’Neill.
Boland got back in the action during the final session of play, snaring a fourth wicket but Carey’s dismissal ended the last resistance for the home team and Sutherland cleaned up the tail, taking four wickets himself, to dismissed SA for 230, still 80 behind Victoria’s first innings total of 310.
Victoria’s total came after Sutherland broke through for his maiden first-class century on the opening day and the all-rounder made sure to thank his “amazing” sister, rising Australian star Annabel for the inspiration to go big with the bat.
Annabel has started the season with two one-day hundreds for the Vics.
“I see the work she does on her batting, and the number of balls she faces in the nets and it does provide inspiration,” Will said.
“I scored a hundred for (Premier Cricket Club) Prahran last season, where I bat at number four, so I have been serious about my batting.
“But I look at her and she‘s been amazing”.
A fourth-ball duck was not the Sheffield Shield start batting gun Will Pucovski was after but Will Sutherland made up for the false start with a stirring maiden first-class century for Victoria.
The 22-year-old all-rounder had never passed 50 in his 21 games, which had netted just 304 runs in total, before he belted the South Australian bowlers in Adelaide to rescue his team from the mire and post his breakthrough ton.
Sutherland, who won the Bradman Young Cricketer of the Year award in 2021 was hit in the helmet early in his innings but settled and brought up his 100 in an impressive 166 balls, with three sixes included in his three-figure haul.
He was out two balls later having helped guide the Vics to 9-264 at stumps, having been 5-92, with David Grant and Jordan Buckingham taking three wickets for the home team.
The Sutherland hundred continued a good week for the family, with Will’s younger sister, Annabel, bashing out two one-day centuries for Victoria this week, and making another 68 on Thursday, giving her 319 in her past four innings.
Earlier on former Test opener Marcus Harris fell within sight of a 23rd first-class hundred, out for 85 having been the lone top-order batter to fire in bowler-friendly conditions.
When Harris as out just after tea, having made more than 60 per cent of his team’s total of 6-137, Sutherland stepped up to the plate and stormed past his previous best score of 34 and took the Vics to a score which seemed improbable after an early batting collapse.
Before Sutherland’s century, Harris has played a lone-hand for the visitors, making 68 of his team’s first 100 runs, as five of his teammates fell around him, none managing more than 10 runs each, before he was out in the first over after tea.
After losing his Test spot to Usman Khawaja foe the final Ashes Test last summer, Harris spent the winter playing county cricket in England, ending his stay by making 159 in his final game for Gloucestershire, one of three during his tenure which netted 726 runs in nine games.
Pucovski, who only managed to play the final two Shield games last season due to his battles with a shoulder injury and concussion, could have been out first ball of the game after surviving a strong LBW shout from Harry Conway, playing his first game for SA.
But his reprieve was short and three balls later he was out edging a ball from the former NSW quick to the keeper, making his just fourth ever duck for the Vics.