Time proved to be the enemy of Magellan Ashes hopefuls Matthew Wade and Glenn Maxwell as Tasmania set the foundations for a towering JLT Sheffield Shield win over Victoria.
Former Test batsman Alex Doolan scored an unbeaten double century as the Tigers imposed their dominance on day three at the MCG.
The visitors declared their second innings at 2-424 shortly after tea on Wednesday and had Victoria struggling at 2-67 in reply, requiring 386 for victory. Bad light stopped play in the final over before stumps.
Maxwell was unbeaten on 20 and in a solid position, having spent more than an hour at the crease.
The question is whether it will be too late to make any difference to his chances of batting at No.6 in the Ashes, particularly with rain forecast for Thursday in Melbourne and selectors due to meet on Wednesday afternoon to pick Australia’s squad.
With the team set to be announced on Friday, Maxwell was unsure whether the XI would already be set in stone.
“I have no idea what direction they’re going to go in,” he said.
“We’ve obviously seen Cameron Bancroft perform extremely well over in the west and a few guys put their hands up … I think that’s what (selectors) asked for but who knows what they’re going to do?”
Maxwell has the advantage of incumbency, the backing of several former greats and a recent Test century to his name.
But if he wasn’t already nervous about his prospects, Bancroft’s 228 not out for Western Australia would likely have done the trick.
It is increasingly difficult to see how selectors can overlook the highly-rated Bancroft after his barnstorming Shield campaign.
The No.6 spot is where Bancroft, who usually opens the batting for WA, would most likely slot in, although Test opener Matt Renshaw’s form slump had led to speculation that he might be dropped
Doolan (247no) and Tim Paine (71no) earlier combined to deny Test incumbent Wade a final chance to make runs before the Ashes.
Wade had been due in at No.5 but was forced to watch as Doolan occupied the crease for just short of nine hours.
Doolan faced 380 balls on the way to his second double century in first-class cricket and the highest score of the Shield season.
NSW gloveman Peter Nevill is tipped to be picked for the Ashes ahead of Wade, whose 17 against Queensland is his only score in double figures from five Shield innings.
Victoria: Peter Handscomb (c), Fawad Ahmed, Scott Boland, Dan Christian, Travis Dean, Aaron Finch, Seb Gotch (wk), Marcus Harris, Glenn Maxwell, Peter Siddle, Chris Tremain. Sam Harper 12th.
Tasmania: George Bailey (c), Gabe Bell, Alex Doolan, Jake Doran, James Faulkner, Ben McDermott, Riley Meredith, Tim Paine, Sam Rainbird, Tom Rogers, Jordan Silk, Matthew Wade, Beau Webster (two to be omitted)