Western Australia 237 for 2 (Bancroft 121*, Wyllie 94) trail Victoria 256 by 19 runs
Wyllie, 19, fell short of his second first-class century when he was bowled by quick Mitchell Perry, shouldering arms as the ball nipped back to hit the top of middle stump. It was the only wicket on an attritional day, where WA scored 208 runs off 96 overs.
After finishing unbeaten on 121 off 306 balls, Bancroft started his case to replace veteran opener David Warner, who is set to retire from Test cricket this summer. Bancroft has not played Tests since the Ashes in 2019.
With fringe Test opener Marcus Harris not playing due to the birth of his first child, Bancroft seized his opportunity on the back of being the standout batter in the Shield last season.
Even though he scored 289 more runs than second-placed South Australia batter Daniel Drew, Bancroft did not make the Ashes touring squad but issued a reminder of his indefatigable approach.
It was a fitting performance for Bancroft with his mentor Justin Langer, who has acted as his private coach, at the ground.
Resuming at 29 for 1, Bancroft and Wyllie dug in as WA scored just 46 runs in 30 overs during a slow first session.
WA coach Adam Voges recently said domestic teams might consider adopting elements of Bazball, believing England’s aggressive approach would inevitably creep into the Shield, but Bancroft and Wyllie didn’t get the memo.
The first boundary was not struck until 45 minutes into the day’s play as Boland – armed with four slips – relentlessly probed outside the off-stump but without reward.
WA did not cross 100 runs until midway through the day’s play, but Bancroft and Wyllie started to take advantage of a tiring Victoria in warm conditions.
Though a green-tinge was still notable, the pitch flattened under the baking sun as WA eyes a big total with temperatures set to soar on day three.
“I think we’re going to try to bat as long as we can…hopefully bat just once,” Wyllie said.
Disciplined and playing straight, Bancroft and Wyllie batted in contrast to Victoria who were left to rue gifting several wickets late on on the opening day.
Wyllie started last season spectacularly when he famously resisted celebrating his maiden first-class century in the Shield opener against New South Wales.
But his form tailed off, perhaps unsurprisingly given his age, as teams exposed him outside the off stump. Wyllie only scored one half-century for the rest of the season, but WA stuck with him and he was at the crease when their title triumph was complete against Victoria.
Much like at stages last season, Wyllie was similarly bogged down against Victoria’s accurate pace attack but he dug in alongside Bancroft.
The smattering of fans did grow restless, but there were no bronx cheers echoing from the terraces like when Victoria batter Ashley Chandrasinghe produced a painstaking 46 off 280 balls in last season’s final.
With solid defence and powers of endurance, like his idol Rahul Dravid, Wyllie kept his composure and made his move in the second session.
As temperatures approached 30 degrees celsius, sensing Victoria’s attack was flagging, Wyllie put the foot down to reach his half-century amid three boundaries off Boland.
While Wyllie was scoring mostly through boundaries, Bancroft calmly nudged the ball around to pick off the bowling. A rare moment of aggression was against Test offspinner Todd Murphy when Bancroft, an accomplished white-ball batter, hit a reverse sweep to the boundary.
Wyllie also took a liking to Murphy, striking several lusty blows after advancing down the pitch.
After another quiet patch following Bancroft’s century, Wyllie agonisingly fell short of a ton almost exactly a year since his maiden century earned him national prominence.