The decision to rest Scott Boland in a quick test following a plea from national selectors to keep him fresh ahead of a big international summer has hit Victoria hard ahead of a special moment in the clash against Western Australia in Melbourne.
Boland, who began his season in Victoria’s Sheffield Shield opener, will play the next two games for Vic before likely being included in Australia’s Test squad against West Indies and South Africa this summer .
In his absence, the Victorian attack featured 31-year-old Rawanta Kelepota, who played first-class cricket for Sri Lanka in 2013 and became the first international since Fawad Ahmed to play for the Vics.
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The WA batsmen took advantage of a relatively inexperienced local attack as Test opener Cameron Bancroft collected his 20th first-class century in dominant form.
But then Bancroft, who was playing the last of his 10 Tests during the 2019 Ashes in England, became the first wicket of Kalaopta, who reached a four-ball 100 in the deadlock after reaching his century.
The visitors remained in the lead at stumps but after Teague Willey, who became the youngest player in more than 30 years to score a Shield century in his last game, scored 49 and Sam Wightman made 82, the Vics fell behind at the end and WA were 5-290.
Before the start of the game at the Junction Oval, Kelapoto received his new Victorian cap, returning to first-class cricket almost a decade after the last of his 20 matches in Sri Lanka.
Spinninger moved to Australia 10 years ago and after playing suburban cricket with clubs including Berwick, found his way to premiership club Casey South Melbourne last summer.
He has already earned a Big Bash deal as an overseas replacement player for the Melbourne Renegades for next season and now has a wicket for Victoria.
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Kelapoto, who also has a class-leading century with the bat, dominated his first season of first-class cricket, leading the wicket-taking with 37 at an average of just under 16 to lead Casey to the grand final in March, putting him on the radar state selectors.
“He’s been picked because of what he’s done in major cricket,” Victorian captain Peter Handscomb said of the first-rounder.
“He averages 16 with the ball, which is impressive for a spinner. It just keeps him going.”
The match at Junction Oval also marked the return of former Test quick Jay Richardson with the red ball for the first time since the second Ashes Test in Adelaide last December.
Meanwhile in Adelaide, Tim Paine continued to struggle with the bat after being dismissed cheaply again, but Tasmania are in a strong position to claim victory in the Sheffield Shield against South Australia.
On Monday, the former Test captain was out for two, caught by Henry Hunt when Ben Mananti (2-34) was bowling.
It continues Paine’s torrid trend since his return to first-class cricket following the sexting scandal that ended his tenure as Australia’s captain.
In the return match against Queensland earlier this month, the wicket-keeper scored six and made 29 not out and his lean streak with the bat continued when he fell to a good catch near the wicket, facing five deliveries.
It was a mixed day for the Tasmanians, who took a strong position after veterans Jackson Bird (4-51) and Peter Siddle (4-51) combined to bowl out the hosts for 227 on day one.
The visitors were made toil in the run chase with Tim Ward (82) the only batsman to break 50 as they limped past the total with two wickets in hand before eventually pulling away with an 18-run lead.
Wes Agar (4-34) was the pick of the bowlers and credit can be given to Manenti, who latched onto his second innings screamer at second slip to get rid of Jackson Bird.
But Tasmania finished the day in style when Siddle removed Henry Hunt and nightwatchman Harry Conway in three deliveries and the Redbacks conceded 2/21 at stumps by just three runs.