In a shift from his regular opening role, Jordan Silk shined in the middle order with a sensational 100* (131) on day two of Tasmania’s Sheffield Shield clash with Queensland.
The century is the side’s second in as many days following a well-crafted innings by 23-year-old opener Tim Ward.
Resuming at 3/285, the Tigers continued to tick the scoreboard over at an adequate rate through the aforementioned Ward and nightwatchman Lawrence Neil-Smith.
With 48 added to the overnight score, both batters fell in quick succession. Just two balls after Neil-Smith (28 from 64) hauled out to deep square leg, Ward was trapped in front by finger spinner Matthew Kuhnemann for a marvellous 144 (343).
The new pairing of Silk and stand-in skipper, Beau Webster made it their aim to ensure a third wicket did not tumble before the luncheon interval. When play resumed at 5/358, the onslaught began.
Just moments after the break, the 29-year old’s tally stood at 15 from 46 balls. From that point he scored at a run a ball, playing freely and contributing 85 of Tasmania’s 142 scored in the second session.
In the final over before tea, Silk reached his hundred with the same single that took his team’s score to a whopping 500. At that point, a declaration was made.
Cameos from Webster (39 from 89) and Mac Wright (25* from 22) ensured that Tasmania made the most of a great start.
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Overall, Silk’s performance is a nod to his versatility as a batsman. This is made all the more clear by the fact that this was just the second time since 2014 that he was not subjected to the new ball in a Sheffield Shield innings.
Speaking to the media at stumps, he went into detail about his experience of the middle order move.
“What was more challenging was probably day one, having to wait around to see if I was going to get a bat or not,” Silk said.
“It was tough yesterday. Then there was the nightwatchman that we sent out so there was even more stress and nerves.
“I haven’t really done that throughout my whole career, so that was a bit unusual.
“(It was) nice to get out there and get a few runs away early in the year.”
Not a complete stranger to the middle order, the Tigers stalwart is accustomed to playing an accelerating role in the white ball formats of the game.
In his opinion, the solid foundation set by the top order allowed him to bat freely on a Karen Rolton Oval pitch made for batting.
“Our top order laid a really great platform for me to just go out there and play the way I want to play down at five,” Silk told.
“I think any time you can walk to the wicket at five or six and come in after 100 overs – your top order’s done a hell of a lot of work to set it up – it’s nice to put a bit of polish on the end of our innings.”
Far from being a change brought up out of the blue, a shift down the batting order has been central to discussions about Silk’s role in the team.
More importantly, it goes hand in hand with taking a senior role in an emerging squad and leadership more generally.
“It’s been brewing for a little bit now. I’ve definitely had some chats with Matthew Wade about it over the last season in particular,” he said.
“He (Wade) identified that as an area where I could potentially play more of a senior role in that middle order later in my career.
“With the likes of Tim Ward and Caleb Jewell, who he sees as potential long-term openers for Tassie, now was probably the right time to pull the trigger.
“Definitely not saying that my opening days are done, but that’s just where he thought the holes needed to be plugged in the short term. I’ve enjoyed it so far.”
In reply to the Tigers, Queensland made a positive start to finish the day at 2/122. The Bulls were dealt a pair of massive blows through the loss of the prized wickets of Joe Burns (26 from 30) and Marnus Labuschange (32 from 29), however.
Hoping to steady the ship for the reigning champions will be Bryce Street (49 from 119) and captain Usman Khawaja (12 from 35), who remain not out heading into day three.
Even with a plethora of runs on the board and key dismissals, Silk and Tasmania remain cognisant of the hard task ahead of them at the halfway point of the match.
“To get two pretty big wickets in Joe and Marnus is really going to help us hopefully going into tomorrow,” he concluded.
“We’ve just got to scrap. Scrap our way for the full day tomorrow.
“We don’t really want to get to a stage where Queensland choose to declare. We want to take 10 wickets first and really dictate how the game goes from here.”
Play will resume on day three in Adelaide at 10:30 am local time.
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