The stars are aligning for Western Australia.
After a Sheffield Shield season that included four consecutive losses to open their campaign and a battle to produce sufficient top order runs, the Warriors are preparing to push for next week’s final against Victoria in Alice Springs.
WA’s sound position against NSW and helpful results in the matches in Brisbane and Hobart have opened the door for the Warriors to reach their third final in four years.
Adam Voges was denied a fairytale century in his final appearance at the WACA Ground, falling for 72 as he sought the quick runs required to prompt the declaration at 9-436, but his bowlers extracted the powerful NSW top order to set up a push for victory.
Run machine Ed Cowan and opener Daniel Hughes were both trapped lbw for 69 as the Blues were held to 5-242 at stumps.
If NSW reach 5-348 by the end of the 100th over today, or a total 10 runs higher for each further wicket lost, they will earn enough bonus points to knock the Warriors out of the shield race. But they will have just 25.2 overs to make a minimum 106 more runs with Moises Henriques (35 not out) shouldering a burden as their last recognised batsman after Peter Nevill fell to Jason Behrendorff on the last ball of the day.
WA’s case is well served by the plight of fellow contenders SA and Queensland. The Redbacks face a tough battle to beat last-placed Tasmania, who led by 39 runs at Blundstone Arena after scoring 333 in their first innings.
SA were 0-69 in the second innings and need a win to have any chance of displacing either NSW or WA in second place.
And Victoria have done the right thing by the Warriors by reaching 6-201 in reply to Queensland’s 208 at Allan Border Field. There is no compulsion for the Bushrangers to make the running in the match, while rain is forecast at both games over the weekend.
The WA attack probed relentlessly on a pitch that has turned out to be more of a featherbed than a surface required to produce a result with the four wickets falling to different bowlers.
Rising star Cam Green struggled for rhythm and impact in his third match, bowling 10 no-balls in eight overs and being warned for a beamer at Henriques, but his colleagues maintained considerable pressure.
Hilton Cartwright made the crucial breakthrough when he snared Cowan in his first over while Simon Mackin provoked considerable angst in the NSW camp when he trapped Hughes.
Voges and Josh Inglis (54) compiled the third century stand of the innings, the first time in nine years a WA innings featured three triple-figure partnerships, but the tail vanished as Doug Bollinger claimed his 400th first-class wicket.