AAP Other sport

Shield runs aplenty for Aussie Test bats

By AAP Newswire

Australia's top-order batsmen have found some much-needed form in a Sheffield Shield opening round where runs proved all too easy to come by.

Incumbent Test openers David Warner and Marcus Harris were among eight century-makers in their first red-ball hitouts since the Ashes.

Warner's first-innings 125 was arguably the best of the lot given he was the only batsman to reach triple figures in NSW's five-wicket win over Queensland at the Gabba, although he followed it up with a golden duck in the second dig.

The left-hander was coming off a disastrous Ashes series in which he averaged just 9.50 and was terrorised by England paceman Stuart Broad.

Harris had a similarly dismal time in the UK but scored a timely 116 in Victoria's stupefying draw with South Australia at Junction Oval.

Just 12 wickets fell for the match on a lifeless deck that sparked tensions between opposing captains Peter Handscomb and Travis Head.

The pair were unable to reach an agreement on a sporting declaration to set up a final-day run chase and the match descended into farce, Tom Cooper scoring a mammoth 271 not out before play was finally called off with SA on 6-671.

Test skipper Tim Paine also reached triple figures in the first innings of Tasmania's draw with Western Australia at the WACA Ground.

The 34-year-old played down his second first-class century in 13 years, saying the achievement "meant nothing to him".

But it was a timely knock amid debate about whether Steve Smith should return to the captaincy when his leadership ban expires next March.

After averaging 110 during a phenomenal Ashes series, Smith was the worst-performed of Australia's Test batsmen in the opening Shield round.

Smith fell for a fifth-ball duck in the first innings at the Gabba and made 21 in the second dig.

His NSW teammate Mitchell Starc also failed to fire in his return from an Ashes series where he was overlooked for all but one Test.

Starc went wicketless in the first innings and finished the second with figures of 1-87.

The news was even worse for incumbent No.6 Mitch Marsh, who injured his bowling hand after punching a dressing-room wall at the WACA.

Marsh will have scans on his right hand after reacting angrily to being dismissed for 53 in the first over of play on Sunday.

Older brother Shaun compiled a classy 85 in the same innings.

Young guns Will Pucovski (123) and Alex Carey (117) both cashed in on the flat Junction Oval deck while incumbent No.3 Marnus Labuschagne was impressive for Queensland, scoring 69 and 52 and ending Warner's century knock.