Jack Clayton’s 87* guides Queensland in 233 chase from tricky position

Queensland 304 (Peirson 115, Steketee 41, Abbott 5-76) and 5 for 235 (Clayton 87*, Wildermuth 38, Kerr 2-37) beat New South Wales 320 (Gilkes 94, Green 52, Bartlett 4-50) and 216 (Dwarshius 48*, Steketee 3-36, Sinfield 3-46) by five wickets

Emerging batter Jack Clayton led Queensland to a pivotal five-wicket victory in the Sheffield Shield over New South Wales in a tense final-day chase at a gloomy Gabba. With Bulls chasing 233 to close in on second-placed Victoria, the 23-year-old Clayton rescued his side from early trouble with a mature innings of 87 not out from 197 balls.
He fell short of his second century in his 11th first class match, but boosted his burgeoning reputation after having played for a Cricket Australia XI against South Africa earlier in the summer. The No. 4 Clayton played the anchor role, and combined with Max Bryant and Jack Wildermuth for important half-century partnerships to get Queensland over the line in the final session of the fourth day’s play.

The threat of rain loomed ominously as the day wore on, with thick clouds hanging over the ground and the inclement weather arriving just after Wildermuth fell for 38 before tea. There was a delay of almost an hour, but play resumed with Queensland on 5 for 181 and still needing another 52 runs for victory.

But skipper Jimmy Peirson, who had made a century in Queensland’s first innings, was composed and hit a sweet cover drive to the boundary to get off the mark thereafter.

Left-hander Clayton then inched Bulls closer with a couple of belligerent boundaries aided by a misfield in the deep from Ben Dwarshuis. before Peirson struck the winning runs with a boundary down the ground.

But resuming the day at 1 for 35, Queensland had started disastrously when former Australia Test opener Joe Burns and No. 3 Aryan Jain fell early as they slumped to 3 for 43. The naturally-aggressive Bryant then played his shots in a counterattack to steady Queensland’s nerves until he was caught behind off Dwarshuis, a stalwart for Sydney Sixers in the BBL, who has finally made his way into first-class cricket this season.

Wildermuth got off the mark with a boundary and combined in an 86-run partnership with Clayton, who survived a probing spell from quick Chris Tremain. NSW were left aghast when Clayton was twice given not out lbw from Tremain, who slapped the surface in disgust after the second occasion.

With light rain falling before tea, Clayton decided to go on the attack and leg-glanced spinner Chris Green to the boundary to notch his half-century. Queensland appeared to be cruising to victory until Wildermuth was caught in the slips from a rearing delivery from fast bowler Hayden Kerr.

But there was no late twist after the rain delay, with Bulls enjoying a strong bounce-back performance after losing to Victoria at the MCG earlier this season. They host South Australia in the Shield, starting on March 2, even NSW’s loss continues their wretched season, with the once-powerhouse state anchored to the bottom of the ladder without a win from eight matches.