Ashes aspirant Abbott snares six wickets
A "very nervous" Sean Abbott has bulldozed Victoria's top order in style, snaring 6-38 to kickstart his Ashes audition and help NSW seize control of the Sheffield Shield clash in Sydney.
Victoria won the toss before crumbling to 199 all out late on day one of the Shield match at Drummoyne Oval, where Nic Maddinson's 87 was the only form of substantial resistance.
NSW will resume at 2-43 on Thursday, having lost openers Daniel Hughes and Matthew Gilkes in an 18-over burst after the change of innings.
Teenage legspinner Tanveer Sangha enjoyed a productive first-class debut for the Blues, finishing with 3-44 from 15 overs as Nathan Lyon (1-59) blew out the cobwebs after a long break.
But it was Abbott, part of Australia's extended Test squad in the 2020-21 series against India, that set the tone for the hosts in eye-catching fashion.
State border closures meant NSW and Victoria spent the past seven weeks in a holding pattern, giving rival states a head start in the race for Test squad berths.
"There were a few of us who mentioned we were quite nervous this morning, having to have to wait so long to play," Abbott said.
"I was very nervous, I didn't quite know where the first ball was going to go."
Abbott will find it hard to dislodge Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc from Australia's first-choice Test attack.
But there are several tight turnarounds during a five-Test series squeezed into six weeks, ensuring rotation will be on the radar of national selectors.
James Pattinson loomed as the obvious frontrunner in Australia's group of reserve pacemen only to last week announce his shock retirement from international cricket.
"I'd be lying if I said I hadn't been thinking about that (Ashes selection)," Abbott said.
"I was in the last couple of Test squads.
"But we've only ever really got what's in front of us ... there's plenty of wickets still to take (before the Test squad is picked)."
Victoria coach and former Test opener Chris Rogers was full of praise for Maddinson's "incredible" knock but also the work of Abbott and Sangha.
"Sean looked like he was a leader out there. He just looks like he's got a knack of taking wickets," Rogers said.
The paceman's first victim was incumbent Test opener Marcus Harris, who fell for nine in the sixth over when he feathered an edge to wicketkeeper Peter Nevill.
Abbott returned to the attack late in the morning session, dismissing former Test batsman Peter Handscomb and opener James Seymour in the shadows of lunch.
The right-armer removed Matt Short, Scott Boland and Maddinson to record the best ever first-class figures at the venue.
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