Philippe ton takes Aus A to parity after openers falter |

WA wicketkeeper’s third first-class century rescues Australia A after slipping to 4-65 against the Kiwis

Philippe, McSweeney dig Aus A out of trouble on day two

Australia A’s plethora of openers have missed another opportunity to move up the queue to replace David Warner amid a first-innings top-order collapse against the pink ball in Mackay.

West Australian wicketkeeper-batter Josh Philippe (105) and captain Nathan McSweeney (56) saved Australia A’s blushes after the hosts slipped to 4-65 on day two in reply to the Kiwis 277.

Openers Cameron Bancroft (7) and Caleb Jewell (4) failed to reach double figures, while Tim Ward – who opens alongside Jewell in Tasmania’s Marsh Sheffield Shield side – could only manage 13 as the visitors made light work of the Aussie Test hopefuls.

After Warner announced his intention to retire from the longest format following the three-match series against Pakistan this summer, the Australia A trio are part of a lengthy list of in-form Shield openers waiting in the wings.

But after three hits each against New Zealand A, only Jewell has passed 50 in the first innings of last week’s series opener in Brisbane, and none have done enough to climb above Ashes squad members Marcus Harris and Matthew Renshaw in the pecking order.

The hosts were staring down the barrel of a hefty first-innings deficit until Philippe’s attacking 114-ball knock that featured 17 boundaries, including a fierce pull shot over wide mid-on to reach triple figures.

The 26-year-old’s third first-class century comes almost two years after his second and breaks a streak of 15 innings without passing 50 in the format stretching back to last year’s ‘A’ tour of Sri Lanka.

“It’s very satisfying, a lot of work has gone into that (innings),” Philippe said at stumps.

“I play my best when I’m positive, so I was just looking to score and take it to the opposition, and it worked.”

Philippe’s timely third first-class ton rescues Australia A

Philippe replaced Jimmy Peirson in the Aussie XI for the second of two four-day matches against New Zealand A and although the Queenslander remains firmly entrenched behind Alex Carey and Josh Inglis in Australia’s ‘keeping hierarchy, Philippe’s return to form comes at an important time for WA who appear likely to be without Inglis for the first half of the domestic season due to the ODI World Cup in India.

“It’s been pretty similar for the last few seasons. I’m really confident with where I’m at, especially with my batting and ‘keeping so I look forward to going out there and trying to do as well as I can and then if he (Inglis) comes back, hopefully I’m in the team as a batter,” Philippe said.

McSweeney started the resistance with seven boundaries in a fluent 96-ball half-century – his third in his past five innings against NZ A – before Will O’Rourke (2-48) got a delivery to rear from a length and take the shoulder of South Australian’s blade on the way through to Tom Bruce at second slip.

Dwarshuis bludgeons three sixes in crucial fifty

That started a mini collapse of 3-13 as Sean Solia (2-33) claimed Nathan McAndrew and Mitch Perry in consecutive overs to leave the hosts 7-150.

But Philippe found an ally in Ben Dwarshuis (50) as the pair put on 74 for the eighth wicket to reduce the deficit to under 100.

Philippe was caught a slip off a no ball on 86 when the umpire ruled Jacob Duffy (2-46) had overstepped, before the right-hander brought up the milestone from the 109th ball he faced.

He was caught by Bruce at slip again four balls later and this time the dismissal counted as O’Rourke broke a significant partnership for the second time in the innings.

However, by that stage the damage was done as Dwarshuis and Matthew Kuhnemann (18) swung the willow freely as the dew set in under lights at Great Barrier Reef Arena to take Australia A to almost parity when the last wicket fell on 275.

New Zealand’s openers Henry Cooper and Solia survived a tricky 20-minute period to close day two with the visitors to resume tomorrow 0-20 with a lead of 22.

“We’re in a pretty good spot now. It was a bit concerning early doors today but pretty happy we got even with their score,” Philippe said.

“A few wickets tomorrow and hopefully we’re not chasing too many (to win) at the end of day three and four.”

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