Startling images have emerged of the damage that was done to the ball during the Sheffield Shield run-fest between Victoria and South Australia.
Try as they might, neither side could find a way to contrive a result in their drawn season-opener, with the stupefying stalemate probably a fair reflection of the lifeless Junction Oval pitch.
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Tensions ran high with Victoria skipper Peter Handscomb and South Australia counterpart Travis Head unable to reach an agreement on a sporting declaration to set up a final-day run chase.
The flat, slow wicket saw a combined total of 1,287 runs scored for the loss of just 12 wickets before the match was mercifully called off half an hour before the scheduled tea break on the final day.
After winning the toss on Thursday, Handscomb declared at 6-616 about 40 minutes before tea on day two, clearly hoping the ageing pitch would help the Vics bowl the visitors out twice.
But SA found the going just as easy on the road-like surface, progressing to 6-671, their highest score against the Vics and their third-highest ever, before play finished.
Handscomb felt Head didn't do enough to give either side a chance at a win.
"I'm just annoyed the game is dead," Handscomb said on Saturday evening.
"We'll shake hands at tea (on Sunday) and tell everyone 'thanks for coming, sorry for such a boring game of Shield cricket'."
A matter of 30 runs proved the sticking point, with Handscomb keen to set the visitors a target of 350 from 80 overs and Head only willing to chase 320.
"We tried but both teams didn't want to budge," said Head, who admitted to being annoyed by aspects of Handscomb's tirade.
"... (But) we're fine, we'll have a good chat, we'll have a beer a bit later.
"We want to win the game, Victoria want to win the game but in round one you don't want to give points up.
"Both teams aren't always going to be happy but there's no bad blood - we just couldn't come to a decision."
Startling images of the second ball that was used during South Australia’s innings have since emerged online, showing an incredible amount of damage.
How good to see cricket played on a pitch, mid-October in Melbourne. First Class Cricket needs First Class nurturing of the deck and outfield. That is what was served up at @StKildaCricket .— Teddy (@Teddy88367023) October 13, 2019
Are you sure you did’nt find that ball at the Harry Trott???#turf
Wouldn't even give it to my bin.— Adam Paul Haase. (@APH1991) October 13, 2019
That's pretty yuck.
Looks like a dog has played with it— Ships (@SKVSTAV) October 13, 2019
That's rubbish.— Sami Dowd (@samidowd) October 13, 2019
Pretty disgusting— Harry the Bunbury (@BunburyHarry) October 13, 2019
What a shambles of a match— Taylor Jones (@Taylor__Jones) October 13, 2019
Anger over farcical scenes
The match descended into farce soon after tea on day three when it became clear SA would keep batting rather than declare.
Handscomb bowled himself and fellow trundler Marcus Harris for 18 meaningless overs, while paceman James Pattinson bowled off-spin for the first time in his first-class career.
"Both teams are entitled to play cricket the way that they want to play it, so full respect for what they did and respect for the way our guys kept toiling," Victoria coach Andrew McDonald said, taking a more diplomatic approach.
"You feel for the ground staff. There was a lot of (wet) weather leading into the game and it's not an exact science."
Test incumbent Harris and several hopefuls made runs, but it will be up to national selectors to decide how much weight is placed on big scores made on such a batsman-friendly deck.
Harris gave his chances of holding onto a Test opener's spot a shot in the arm with a well-made 116, while Nic Maddinson hit a career-high 224 and young gun Will Pucovski impressed with 123.
For SA, Tom Cooper was unbeaten on a career-high 271, Alex Carey made a polished 117 and Tom Andrews (101) broke through for maiden first-class century.
Maddinson (bruised finger) and Aaron Finch (back spasms) left the match with injury concerns.
I agree mate but that #SheffieldShield game in Victoria at the moment is a disgrace— Peter Sloss (@PeteSloss) October 12, 2019
This is pretty embarrassing stuff @cricketvictoria as you probably now realise.— Neil Baker 🐑🐑🐑 (@Bakes500) October 12, 2019
If Handscomb wanted a game of it why didn’t he declare on 400 rather than 600+? Bit hypocritical— Mitch Ward (@mitchward19) October 12, 2019
Sounds like a petulant dummy spit to me. Vics make 600+ & can't bundle SA out, so it's now SA's fault a contrived outright win is beyond Victoria? As for bowling 'joke bowlers' and quicks bowling spin.. that's showing a lack of respect.— I C H (@IseeICH) October 12, 2019
Absolutely Pathetic from Victoria and Pattinson bowling spin showed a complete lack of respect to the game.— Chris Lomas (@clomas88) October 12, 2019