South Australian Tom Cooper struck a classy century against NSW to enhance his status as the Sheffield Shield’s dominant batsman.
Cooper’s superb 121 steered the Redbacks to a 60-run lead against the Blues at stumps on Sunday’s second day of play at Adelaide Oval.
After Redbacks captain Johan Botha took a career-best 6-34 from 32.4 overs to help bowl NSW out for 230, SA were 9-290 with Test quick Mitchell Starc claiming four wickets.
While SA opener Phil Hughes (20) failed to press his Test claims, Cooper’s ton continued his prolific Shield run-making, following scores of 75 and an unbeaten 68 in the season-opener.
The elegant strokeplayer tops the run tally this season. And he was also the Shield’s second-highest scorer last season with 881 runs – five shy of now-retired West Australian Marcus North’s total – at an average of 51.82.
“He has been in really good form, Coops,” SA coach Darren Berry said.
“He and Travis Head put on a partnership that put us in a really strong position … they’re great entertainers.”
Cooper and Head (64) put on 129 runs for the fourth wicket to rescue SA from a wobbly 3-44.
The duo scored 125 of their partnership in just 105 minutes in the middle session to seize momentum for the South Australians.
Their stand came after Hughes fell to Test quick Mitchell Starc, who was menacing all day and finished with 4-64 from 22 overs.
Hughes, seeking to push his claims for selection in Australia’s side for the first Test against India starting December 4, produced a scattered knock.
He struck three crisp boundaries but also a number of inside edges in a 27-ball stay which ended when, playing defensively, he edged to first slip.
Hughes’ opening partner Andrew McDonald (two), Callum Ferguson (15) and middle order bats Tim Ludeman (one) and Botha (six) all failed.
But Cooper remained in command and after support from Head, he also featured in a handy 72-run partnership for the seventh wicket with Joe Mennie (33).