Rocchiccioli takes four as Western Australia dominate

Rocchiccioli takes four as Western Australia dominate

western australia 1 by 67 (Whiteman 37*, Freeman 1-10) trail tasmania 179 (Ward 44, Rocchiccioli 4-31, Stobo 3-28) for 112 runs

Offspinner Corey Rocchiccioli claimed four wickets on the pace-friendly WACA surface as defending Sheffield Shield champions Western Australia continued their dominance over Tasmania after a dominating performance on day one.

Rocchiccioli equaled his best first-class figures of 4 for 31 to edge past Tasmania who were bowled out for 179 after winning the toss.

In response, WA went 1 for 67 on stumps as they went for victory to secure a home final for the second year in a row.

Opener Cameron Bancroft, the Shield’s leading run scorer this season, looked with excellent touch before pushing midfielder Jarrod Freeman to short leg in 28.

With the rain pouring down, a rarity in Perth at this time of year, there was a 20 minute delay at the end of the final session, but Sam Whiteman turned his attention back to the restart along with night watchman Rocchiccioli to round out the solid day of WA opening.

With their hopes of qualifying for the final on the line, Tasmania were desperate to make amends after taking a 383-run thrashing to WA at home last week.

The Jordan Silk skipper chose to bowl in wet and cloudy conditions. He looked like a risk on a green-tinted surface and with seam bowling dominating the bat in ground matches earlier in the season.

But in the Shield’s first WACA match in almost three months, the surface looked benign with Tasmanian openers Tim Ward and Caleb Jewell relatively quiet in a 72-run partnership.

They came close to batting through the opening session until Jewell went down just before lunch for 40 after being brilliantly caught by Mitchell Marsh slipping off Rocchiccioli’s bowling.

Number 3 Jake Doran caught a breather moments later when Bancroft left him on the slip as Tasmania arrived for lunch at 1 for 80.

Having played within themselves in the first session, WA’s attack was ignited with an impressive one-handed return to the ground from the speedy Charlie Stobo to remove Ward for 44.

It triggered a collapse for Tasmania, who lost 3 for 11 with Doran and Mac Wright falling to the brilliant line and long bowling of Stobo and Matt Kelly.

But Silk and Tim Paine steadied the ship with a wrestling partnership to thwart an attacking attempt by WA to open up the lower order.

Marsh, who impressed with his rotation of bowlers, delivered a masterstroke by bringing back the little-used Rocchiccioli just before tea. Once again, the offspinner caught a wicket before half-time as he bowled out Silk for 18.

As the threat of a thunderstorm loomed, the Tasmanian lower order were impressed after Paine holed out for 17. They lost their last six wickets for 30 to ensure Tasmania failed to reach 200 runs for the third successive innings against WA .

Rocchiccioli finished with the spoils having retained his place in the side as all-rounder Ashton Agar, who was sent home from Australia’s tour of India after being passed over for selection, focuses on white-ball cricket .

Agar is set to play in the Marsh Cup Over 50 final between WA and South Australia on March 8 before heading back to India for the ODI leg of the tour.

Marsh, meanwhile, stepped up his preparation for the ODI series having recently returned from a three-month layoff through injury. The all-rounder will play specialist hitter in his first Shield game in two years.

Tasmania dropped wicketkeeper batsman Ben McDermott, a former Australia ODI and T20I player who has struggled this domestic season, while veteran Peter Siddle was rested.

Tristan Lavalette is a Perth-based journalist.