Forget about Peter Nevill declaring on Mitchell Starc, Callum Ferguson falling three runs short of a century in his final innings is the hard luck hundred-that-never-was story of the Adelaide Shield hub.
In his 147th first-class match and in his 275th innings, Ferguson was lbw to Mark Steketee for 97 as the Redbacks resisted – but lost – at Glenelg on Wednesday.
Steketee’s big inswinger might have been a tad high and might have been missing leg, but there were no histrionics from Ferguson, who left with a smile, striding through a gauntlet of fist taps from generous Queensland opponents.
“I can’t thank the Queensland blokes enough, led by Usman (Khawaja),” Ferguson said after play.
“To honour me with a guard of honour when I walked to the crease and then another guard of honour at the end of the game, well, that was unnecessary but really appreciated.”
Falling three shy of a 21st first-class hundred was unfortunately apt given Ferguson’s luck has often been out, such as when he was dumped after a sole Test in 2016.
But his final day in whites – he’ll continue in 50 and 20 over cricket – wasn’t without honour, as during his innings he passed Les Favell to move into fourth place on SA’s runs list.
Ferg's incredible knock comes to an end on 97. Yet another incredible performance from a true South Australian champion. He never let us down ⭐️ #ThanksFerg pic.twitter.com/LBxazcQctO
Unfortunately, the Redbacks, like Ferguson and his hundred, fell just short of saving the game, defying the Bulls for 158 overs only to be bowled out for 385 late in the day to lose by 62 runs.
“I am enormously proud of this playing group,” Ferguson said after SA almost saved another game with a marathon second innings.
“Every time we’ve had to bat 150-plus overs in the second innings we’ve fought and taken it right down to the wire.”
Ferguson and Harry Nielsen added 218 runs for the fourth wicket to give the Redbacks faint hope of running down the 447 set by Queensland.
When Nielsen fell, also lbw to Steketee, for 113, the customary Redbacks collapse appeared a formality.
But Liam Scott and Chadd Sayers batted with a ton of guts to add 68 in 28 overs to deny the Bulls.
Scott was bowled shouldering arms to Steketee for 28 (110 balls), leaving only the Redbacks bowlers standing in the way of a Queensland win.
It looked like they’d pull it off until Sayers’s 122-ball vigil ended on 46.
Mitchell Swepson spun out the tail to deliver a thrilling win with only minutes remaining in the last session.
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