Bancroft returns to spotlight with stunning century
WESTERN Australia's Cameron Bancroft took another step on the road to redemption by scoring an unbeaten 138, but NSW boast a narrow advantage at the midway point of their Sheffield Shield match at Bankstown Oval.
Second-placed NSW reached 3-188 at the close of play on Sunday to be 91 runs in arrears of the visitors.
Recently capped Test batsman Kurtis Patterson led the way with a patient unbeaten 57 while youngster Jason Sangha is not out on 20.
There were starts for Daniel Hughes (30), Nick Larkin (36) and Moises Henriques (30), though each fell just as NSW looked likely to build a large partnership.
But the focus was all on Bancroft in his Shield return following his nine-month ban for using sandpaper on the ball during the Test series in South Africa last March.
WA resumed at 5-183 with Bancroft on 73 after a rain-affected opening day that saw the opener record a strike-rate of just 30.
After fellow opener Sam Whiteman contributed 66 on day one, and with no other batsman passing 10, it was left to Bancroft to hold the innings together and demonstrate that his powers of concentration have not wavered.
After bringing up his ton off 270 balls, Bancroft eventually carried his bat for the third time in his career in a marathon 358-ball innings.
It is the first of four Shield matches for the 26-year-old to make an impression ahead of squad selection for this year's Ashes series.
NSW were best served by fast bowler Trent Copeland (4-81) and spinner Steve O'Keefe (4-78). - AAP
HARRIS FALLS SHORT OF SHIELD CENTURY
Marcus Harris felt like "slogging one" as the clock moved closer to stumps at the Junction Oval and he was within reach of another Sheffield Shield century.
But he had the words of Victorian coach Andrew McDonald, who preaches team goals before individual ones, ringing in his ears so instead the left-hander tried to be cautious.
That caution, and a dud umpiring decision brought him undone and he was out for 95 seven minutes before the end of play, caught behind off spinner Mitchell Swepson.
Harris was adamant he hit his back pad, not the ball, to be dismissed in the 90s for the first time in seven seasons of Shield cricket.
But while he didn't get to three figures, facing 155 balls was more than he had since the final Test against India in Sydney, which was the positive he had to take.
"I've had a quiet little patch so it was good to get some runs, good to spend some time in the middle, and put us in a decent position," Harris said.
"I got a not out in the 90s but I haven't been out, it's crap because you have so many bad days and to get that close and not get it is disappointing.
"I was thinking about slogging one, but with how close it was to stumps, and Andrew McDonald writes on the whiteboard "put the team in front of yourself".
"I didn't hit it. I hit my back pad. But it is what it is."
Harris has 596 runs at 74.50 for the Shield season and having spent the summer jumping from Test cricket to Big Bash, is happy for a prolonged stint of red-ball cricket with three more matches for Victoria after this one, plus the potential of playing in the final.
It's all against the English Dukes ball too, which Harris is hopeful he'll be facing in the Ashes later this year.
"It's good preparations for that. it's obviously different conditions to what you face in England, but to face a ball that swings a lot more is good preparation," he said.
"A hundred today would have been good in that sense, but if I keep batting like that, it should look after itself."
Victoria ended day two 3-184, having dismissed Queensland for 441 earlier in the day after all-rounder Michael Neser pounded 75 off just 87 balls for his team.
Will Pucovski's average for the Shield season dropped to just 83.25 after he was caught behind for 22, trying to hook a short ball from Mark Steketee.
Stand-in Victorian skipper Travis Dean also continued a lean trot this season, out for just 26, taking his season total to just 217 runs in his 11 innings. - Russell Gould
WADE WAKES UP SLUGGISH TASSIE
Meanwhile, after an extraordinarily slow opening session which delivered just 42 runs for Tasmania, acting captain Matthew Wade immediately picked up the pace to hit a quickfire half-century.
At stumps on Sunday, Tasmania reached 3-238 in hot conditions, in reply to South Australia's 257 - with Wade falling for 77 after sparking the innings.
No.3 Charlie Wakim has impressed on debut to be not out on 79 with Tasmania trailing by 19 runs.