Vics’ batting woes continue as Tassie take advantage

Victoria’s horror month in the Marsh Sheffield Shield has continued, with an understrength outfit skittled for just 121 on day one against Tasmania on their return to the MCG.

Sent in by Tigers’ skipper Jordan Silk on a green-tinged pitch under gray skies at their spiritual home, their inexperienced line-up that included two debutants proved perfect fodder for seasoned seamers Jackson Bird (4-13) and Peter Siddle (3- 34).

The veteran new-ball pairing claimed seven wickets between them, with Bird’s four scalps taking him past Stuart MacGill into 13th on the all-time Sheffield Shield wicket-takers list.

“Stuart was a great bowler in the Shield and Test cricket so it’s something I’ll look back on at the end of my career,” Bird told cricket.com.au post play.

“I’m just taking it game by game at the moment, I’ve had a few injuries plagued seasons so I’m just trying to stay on the park and contribute and take some wickets like I did today then I’m happy. “

Bird does light work of Vics’ top order at MCG

After a tough on-and-off season in 2021-22, coupled by a shoulder injury in April while playing for Kent, Bird said he had made some lifestyle changes to try and get through a full summer.

“Last year was really frustrating, I had a really good preseason and then got injured right on the eve of the season and then obviously went to England this offseason and got injured over there again,” he said.

“I had a good chat with our medical staff and they weren’t too concerned that my injuries were career threatening, so I’ve just had a really strong focus on rehab and trying to get my shoulder and my achilles as strong as I possibly could and see where it went from there.

“I’ve been bowling a lot of overs and I feel like the ball has been coming out reasonably well without probably the rewards that I would have liked, so it was nice to get a few today.”

While the Vics did fight back in the final session with four Tasmanian wickets, including the first two to two-metre debutant Sam Elliott who was presented his cap before play by father and Victorian great Matthew, the visitors had erased the deficit to just 19 runs by stumps.

Batting proved tough from the outset on an MCG surface deprived of sunlight over the past few months, with Victoria taking 27 balls to get off the mark and losing Travis Dean in the process.

Ashley Chandrasinghe couldn’t repeat a marathon knock from his own first-class debut against the same opposition two games earlier as he and stand-in skipper Nic Maddinson also fell for single figures.

Matt Short provided a brief reprieve with a counter-attacking 25, but when he was removed by Nathan Ellis (2-22) in his first Shield match in 20 months and the hosts slipped to 5-40, passing their 63 all out from their first innings against Queensland a fortnight ago looked like it could be a challenge.

Young gun Campbell Kellaway, also on first-class debut, hung around for a composed 23, but was out to an incredible low catch by Beau Webster at second slip with score on 81, handing Bird his fourth wicket.

Webster plucks one-handed beauty at second slip

Fergus O’Neill top scored with 31, which included six boundaries, as Victoria’s lower order rallied to at least push them past 100, with Elliott also chipping in with 13 as the host were bowled out just prior to tea.

Elliott got off to a dream start with the ball on debut, with the right-arm quick claiming wickets in his second and third overs with steep bounce that surprised Tasmania’s two in-form openers in Tim Ward and Caleb Jewell.

Veteran Matthew Wade, fresh off a century last week in his first red-ball match of the summer, was at his aggressive best, racing to 33 off 33 which included four glorious drives in his six boundaries that made it look like he was batting on a different surface.

But when he chopped an O’Neill (1-21) delivery back onto his stumps and Cameron McClure also broke through Ben McDermott’s defenses on 23, it opened the door against for Victoria with Silk (24no) and Jake Doran (12no) nursing them to 4-102 at the close of play.

“It was pretty special, I was a bit nervous, I can’t even remember running in for the first ball,” Elliott said after stumps.

“To get my first wicket was unbelievable and it helps that it was caught by Sutho (Will Sutherland) who is one of my good mates … we’ve known each other since we were 10 years old … and he also caught the first wicket I got in one day cricket.

“Today didn’t go the way we wanted but I think we can bounce back tomorrow, and it’s nice having some young and familiar faces out there that you know.”

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