The Sheffield Shield returned after a two month hiatus for the Big Bash with four rounds to go before the Shield final.
Queensland rebounded from conceding first innings points to pull off the second largest fourth innings run chase in Shield history and defeat South Australia at the Gabba. The Redbacks batted first and, lead by a brilliant 175 by Tom Cooper and 95 to skipper Johan Botha, managed 403. In reply Queensland were shot out for 135 in 50 overs but South Australia didn’t enforce the folwo on in stead batting again for 6/202 declared and set the Bulls a final innings target of 470 to win. By stumps on Day 3 Queensland were 2/170 thanks to 72 to opener Joe Burns. Day 4 began slowly for Queensland with just 45 runs scored in the first session as Peter Forrest crawled to 35 off 155 balls, however the mainstay of the innings was Usman Khawaja who increased his scoring rate through out the day to perfectly time the run chase. He finished on 182 not out and was ably assisted by rapid runs from James Hopes (58 off 63) and wicket keeper Chirs Hartley (48 off 59) as Queensland reached their target with 8 overs to spare.
Victoria capitulated to New South Wales within 3 days. Batting first Victoria were rolled for 218 thanks mainly to 94 off 95 balls to Glen Maxwell. In reply New South Wales ran up 9 for 452 declared with wicket keeper Peter Neville contributing an even 100 and Scott Henry and Kurtis Patterson both contributing 90s. Victoria replied with the worst start to their Shield innings, needing to face a handful of over prior to stumps on Day 2 the Vics managed to be 3 out for 0 runs at the close of play with two nightwatchmen at the crease. The next day it got little better with the Vics sliding to 6 out for 9 before Glen Maxwell fired up with 127 off 102 balls. Maxwell was on 69 when number 11 Clint McKay came to the crease and they shared a 59 run stand of which McKay contributed just 1. The Vics were bowled out for 186 to lose by an innings and 48 runs. Maxwell scored 221 out of Victoria’s 404 runs in the game – 54.7% of the teams total. No other Victorian scored more than 30 in either innings and the Vics recorded 5 ducks in their second innings.
Tasmania batted first against Western Australia at the WACA but could only manage a mediocre 248 built around 71 to Mark Cosgrove and 56 to Luke Butterworth . The Warriors batting effort was lead by 87 to opener Marcus North but first innings points were in the balance with WA at 7/208. Nathan Coulter Nile (34 off 18 balls) and keeper Sam Whiteman (55 off 50 balls) made sure first innings points were secured in quick time and secured a first innings lead of 31. Tasmania’s best bowler was Ben Hilfenhaus with 6 for 82. In their second innings the Tigers managed 286, built around 83 from skipper George Bailey, leaving WA needing 259 for victory. The Warriors, led by a pair of 70s to veterans North and Voges, reached the target with four wickets in hand.
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Ashton Agar was out of the Western Australian team after being suspended for dissent in a Future’s League game in late January. His spot was taken by forgotten spinner, Michael Beer, playing his first Sheffield Shield game since December 2012.
Dave Hussey was once again not in the Victorian team. Instead the Vics prefered to play another allrounder in Marcus Stoinis who was thrown into the number 3 position. The Bushrangers also had a change of plans with their spinners, sending Fawad Ahmed and Jon Holland to the Futures league replaced by recent T20 international leg spinner ,James Muirhead.
Victoria’s team selection has raised questions all year and looks to have taken another turn. After the poor showing and early finish to the Shield match, all Victorian players except John Hastings were sent back to play Premier cricket in Melbourne on Saturday.Young batsmen Peter Handscombe scored a double century for St Kilda and today was named captain of the Victoria 2nd XI team to play a match that overlaps with the next Shield game. Two names that perhaps should have been in the 2nd XI line up but weren’t are Dan Christian and Clint McKay given their bowling figures this season.
Batsmen Chris Lynn was not selected in the Queensland team, despite his recent good T20 form for the Brisbane Heat and the Australian T20 team. In a major milestone, wicket keeper Chris Hartley played his 100th match Sheffield Shield match for Queensland.
Despite playing for Perth Scorchers in the second half of the Big Bash, Pat Cummins looks unlikely to play Shield cricket this season as he continues his recovery from injury.
1. Marcus North (Western Australia)
Scored a pair of half centuries that held together both WA innings. His experience has been invaluable at eh top of the order for the Warriors and he has been in fine form.
2. Joe Burns (Queensland)
In a quiet round for openers Burns laid the platform for Queensland’s successful fourth innings chase with 72.
3. Usman Khawaja (Queensland)
Guided the Bulls home in their huge fourth innings chase with a match winning hand of 182
4. Tom Cooper (South Australia)
Scored 175 in the first innings for South Australia. When Cooper makes hundreds he makes them big – his other century this season was 171 also against Queensland.
5. Kurtis Patterson (New South Wales)
The young up and coming batsmen made 94 in New South Wales crushing victory.
6. Glen Maxwell (Victoria)
Made rapid fire contributions in both innings for Victoria: 94 off 95 balls and 127 off 102 balls as the rest of his teammates struggled.
7. Peter Neville (New South Wales)
Made 100 off 134 balls to lead NSW to a crushing victory over Victoria
8. James Hopes (Queensland)
No spinner put in any performance of note so James Hopes are sloted in as an allrounder. Hopes took 4 wickets for 71 in South Australia’s first innings and contributed a quick fire half century in the Bulls big run chase.
9. Trent Copeland (New South Wales)
The medium fast bowler helped take apart Victoria with 3/50 and 3/24.
10. Ben Hilfenhaus (Tasmania)
The Tasmanian fast bowler took 6 for 82 at the WACA to keep the Warriors in check.
11. Michael Hogan (Western Australia)
Hogan took 4/55 in Tasmania’s first innings.
Tasmania v Queensland, Hobart
Western Australia v New South Wales, Perth
South Australia v Victoria, Adelaide