Making a return to cricket for the first time since July, Tasmania’s Riley Meredith played a crucial role in his sides’ four wicket win over Western Australia at the WACA Ground on Friday.
After losing the toss and being sent into field, the Tigers got off to a dream start with the ball on a bowler friendly wicket, full of green tinges.
Veteran swing bowler Sam Rainbird set the tone early, trapping Josh Philippe (0 from 7) leg before wicket with the score on two. Eight balls later, Meredith joined the party, dismissing Sam Whiteman (3 from 10) via the same mode of dismissal.
Wickets kept tumbling for the home side and by the time 18 overs had been completed, the crucial scalps of Cameron Green (5 from 10), Shaun Marsh (15 from 27) and D’Arcy Short (5 from 7) had also been claimed, for a team total of 5/58.
Playing the role of chief destroyer with 3/12 from his first five overs (3/41 from 10 to finish), Meredith bowled free of any ill-effects of the side strain that kept him out of Australia’s tour of Bangladesh in August. His trademark pace and bounce were well and truly on full display again.
In all, the opening spell was a very encouraging performance for the 25-year-old, who admitted post-match that he was full of nervous energy before the game.
“I was a little bit nervous beforehand, I obviously haven’t played a game for a while,” Meredith told the media.
“A few cobwebs felt like they were out there, but I felt in good rhythm. The ball came out nice which was a good result.
“I changed my run-up about six times during the break so I didn’t really know how it would unfold, but it went pretty well in the end.”
Not willing to lie down and accept defeat, Western Australian captain, Ashton Turner put up a mighty rear-guard effort with a fighting century (100 from 121).
With the score advancing to 7/81 at the halfway point of the innings, Turner partnered with tail enders Andrew Tye (44 from 31) and Jason Behrendorff (23 from 38). The fast bowling tandem toiled hard with their skipper to help the team finish with a total of 218 from 47.1 overs.
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In reply, Tasmania’s start to their chase was far from ideal. The losses of Caleb Jewell (9 from 12) and Mac Wright (0 from 4) with the score at 22, led to experienced campaigners Ben McDermott and skipper Jordan Silk joining forces at the crease.
The pair steadied the ship with a solid 78 run stand, built mainly on an aggressive half century from McDermott (57 from 63). Ultimately, his stroke play led to his demise when a loose shot outside off from the bowling of Tye found the hands of backward point.
Soon after, the game was placed in the balance when Jake Doran (1 from 6) was caught behind.
Up to the task though, Silk and all-rounder Beau Webster (39 from 59) formed a partnership of 80 that swung the momentum back in Tasmania’s favour.
Two more wickets to Tye (4/39 from 10) threatened to re-open the contest, but Silk held his nerve to finish on a well-made 90* (99). A handy hard-hitting cameo from finger-spinner Tom Andrews (14* from 16) helped seal the four wicket victory.
Full of praise for the captain’s knock was Riley Meredith, who touched on Silk’s glistening form.
“It was a bloody good knock from ‘Silky’ in the end,” he surmised.
“Silky’s batting really well at the moment. He’s been a really good white-ball player for probably, the last two or three years.
“We think he’s an unbelievable player, hopefully not too far away from an Aussie cap.
“I think he’s just such a good, adaptable player. He does it in all formats and he can change his game to the situation of the match really well.”
The praise did not stop there, with applause heaped on the determination of the Tigers to secure a win at the WACA. Meredith was particularly cognisant of the experience of the Western Australian side and their ability to consistently win at home.
“It’s huge for us. We were saying in the changerooms that it’s very rare for us to get a win here, especially a one day one,” he told.
“The boys played really well.”
All eyes now turn to Sunday where the two sides will meet again in the Sheffield Shield. Despite making it through the one day match unscathed, Meredith will miss the four day fixture as the team continue to manage his health.
While he will be missed on field, the frontline paceman is confident that his teammates will continue their solid start to the domestic season.
“The body’s feeling fine at the moment. I’m not playing the Shield game unfortunately, just load wise we’re managing it a bit.” Meredith concluded.
“Hopefully I’ll be back for the next Shield game.
“Anytime you beat WA, they’ve got a lot of international experience – so many unbelievable players. Whatever team they roll out, you know it’s good quality.
“It gives you so much confidence going forward, knowing that you can compete with the best teams and anyone really on their day.”
Tasmania return to action against Western Australia in the Sheffield Shield on Sunday October 17 at the WACA Ground from 1:30pm AEDT.
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