Victoria’s depth was once again in evidence on Friday as the Sheffield Shield leaders and titleholders stormed to a seven-wicket win inside three days over Tasmania at the MCG.
Set an awkward total of 199 to win in a low-scoring encounter, Victoria eased past the competition’s bottom side reaching 3-200 off just 41.4 overs.
An unbeaten 85 from opener Rob Quiney was the cornerstone of the run chase but, otherwise, it was Victoria’s lesser lights who did the damage.
The Bushrangers have five players in New Zealand with Australia’s one-day squad, with James Pattinson and Marcus Stoinis called across the Tasman mid-match.
Yet they were still far too strong for an admittedly inexperienced Tasmania side.
Rookie opener Travis Dean continued a rich vein of form by scoring 50, helping to put on 108 with Quiney for the first wicket.
Perhaps most notable was 19-year-old Sam Harper who, having already become Victoria’s youngest wicketkeeper, claimed the most dismissals (nine) on debut in a Shield match thanks to six second-innings catches. The previous mark of eight had been achieved three times, most recently back in the 1952/53 season.
“To have the last three days that I have just experienced is irreplaceable,” said Harper.
“I think I better thank the bowlers – they are the ones who did all the hard work. But it was nice to get a few nicks early and get in the game.
“I’m loving every opportunity that I have been given and having fun doing what I love on the MCG – it doesn’t get any better than that.”
Unheralded fast bowler Chris Tremain outdid Test paceman Peter Siddle to take 4-37 and a match-high seven wickets.
However, Siddle (2-31) chipped in with the key wickets of second top-scorer Jake Doran (46) and first-innings century-maker Beau Webster.
If there was a bright spot for Tasmania, it was a lone hand from 21-year-old middle-order batsman Ben McDermott, on his Tigers debut, who lifted his side to 228 in their second dig.
With just one previous match for Queensland under his belt, McDermott – son of former Australian paceman Craig McDermott – batted watchfully to score 79 not out for his second 50 of the match.
“For Ben to go out and bat like that against a good Victorian attack was pretty impressive,” said Tasmanian coach Dan Marsh.
“The game was in our hands when we restricted Victoria to 270 if we went out and batted well, but we didn’t.”