The day didn’t start and end with Chris Tremain for Victoria. Problem was, it could have. Had Sam Harper scored a single or a three off the penultimate ball of the day, it would have been Tremain on strike. And it wasn’t as if Victoria had been batting for more than two sessions.
Indeed, Tremain and his fellow quicks, Peter Siddle and Scott Boland, had to toil for a whole session before Peter Handscomb gave them a cut out via the spin of Jon Holland and Matt Short. It wasn’t hard to see how that had happened: he clearly saw the quicks as the best options to take wickets, and Siddle and Boland struck against Matthew Wade and Alex Pyecroft just as it seemed that he may turn to the alternative. Victoria’s 12th man was also waved off just before the lunch break as he was running onto the field with shin pads, possibly in anticipation for a short leg fielder for the off-spin of Short from the Church Street End because there wasn’t enough time to ensure an over if they took too much time to get ready. But as reasonable in delaying the entry of spin was, it was made to look worse than what it actually was when Holland struck in just his second over, bowling Jake Doran.
The second new ball took just 2.5 overs to see off Jackson Bird, who had given Doran valuable aid, and Riley Meredith, Bird’s replacement at the crease. Marcus Harris looked determined to reduce the deficit of 99 as soon as possible, hitting three boundaries in Gabe Bell’s second over to bring his tally to 19 off 16, but Bird went around him to slow the scoring rate, dismissing Travis Dean for just 1. The run rate only really stayed at a consistent level after the fall of Will Pucovski, as Peter Handscomb and Harris took Victoria to tea and beyond.
Wade had gone through all his primary options to end the partnership, and tried them from different ends, when he turned to the first of his secondary options: Beau Webster. Webster immediately rewarded Wade for his decision, bowling Handscomb for 52 off the last ball of his first over. 36 overs had now been bowled, with the score on 3-119. But while the lead was now 20, Victoria were never again able to find a partnership that matched the 90-run Union for the third wicket. The fourth wicket stand was only nine runs old when Meredith removed the other link of the Harris-Handscomb link, and it took even less time to remove Short. By the time he did, Victoria were 5-134 and staring right down the barrel once again with a lead of just 35.
Nic Maddinson, who could have been forgiven for feeling a sense of deja vu, was able to handle the short ball when it was the staple ball from Meredith, but not when it was a surprise from Bird, gloving through to Doran to make it 6-150. No other wickets fell for the rest of the day, but that it took another seven overs for Sam Harper and Tremain to make the additional 12 runs that the Victorians scored on day two was illuminating. Tomorrow will start with Tremain, that’s for sure. Much is now left for Victoria to make sure that if day three also ends with Tremain, it is not because he bowls the ball from which the winning runs are hit.