Vics keeper Harper smashes third-fastest Shield century

Victorian wicketkeeper Sam Harper has belted an extraordinary rearguard century late on day one of the Sheffield Shield clash with South Australia.

SAM HARPER of the Renegades hits the ball of the Big Bash League match between the Melbourne Renegades and the Perth Scorchers at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne, Australia.
SAM HARPER of the Renegades hits the ball of the Big Bash League match between the Melbourne Renegades and the Perth Scorchers at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne, Australia. Picture: Michael Dodge/Getty Images

Wicketkeeper Sam Harper has smashed the third-fastest century in Sheffield Shield history, dragging Victoria out of early trouble with an extraordinary knock against South Australia.

Forced to bat first after losing the toss on Tuesday, the Vics crumbled to 4-29 in tricky, overcast batting conditions at the Adelaide Oval.

But as batting became slightly easier, Harper launched an aggressive rear-guard assault against the Redbacks to help Victoria reach 5-187 by stumps.

It was Harper's third first-class century in his 44th game, bringing up the milestone in just 64 balls in a knock that included six sixes.

In one over Harper took Redbacks bowler Nathan McAndrew for 26 after belting three sixes and two fours with only one dot ball.

Only David Hookes (34 balls, playing for South Australia) and Luke Ronchi (51 balls, Western Australia) have scored faster Shield centuries.

The 26-year-old will resume on Wednesday unbeaten on 101 after combining with Campbell Kellaway (38 no) for a 120-run partnership.

Just 43 overs on Tuesday were bowled as rain and a wet outfield delayed play significantly.

The most controversial moment of the match, and possibly the season, came when star Victoria batter Peter Handscomb refused to leave the crease after being caught by Redbacks captain Jake Lehmann in the slips.

Handscomb edged a ball off Brendan Doggett's bowling but the 32-year-old seemed uncertain Lehmann had correctly held the catch.

After a discussion with the umpires the fringe Test batter finally walked off, dismissed for seven.

First-change bowler Doggett claimed 2-45 but it was Wes Agar (3-25) who did the bulk of the damage by ripping through openers Travis Dean and Test aspirant Marcus Harris to have Victoria reeling at 2-4.

The teams are ranked third and fourth on the ladder, making it a crunch final match before the Shield pauses for a long break until February during the Big Bash League window.