Victoria v Western Australia, Bellerive Oval, Hobart
Western Australia won the toss and batted and were lead by none other than skipper Adam Voges who made another century with 107. Openers Marcus Harris and Cam Bancroft both made half centuires as did keeper Sam Whiteman but the Warriors tail subsided quickly as they were dismissed for 421. Fawad Ahmed was outsanding for Victoria returning the best ever bowling figures in a Shield final 8/89 off 40 overs.
In reply Victoria were cruising at stumps on Day 2 at 0/135. Chris Rogers made 112, his 72nd first class hundred, in what is likely to be his last appearance for the Vics. However from 2/259 the Vics couldn’t capitalise on starts and were all out for 381. Ashton Agar and Nathan Rimmington were the pick of the WA bowlers with 3 wickets apiece.
With a lead of 60 Western Australia went about setting Victoria a target whilst leaving themselves enough time to bowl the Vics out. Marcus Harris showed how it was done, making 158 not out off 153 balls including 16 fours as the Warriors scored at the merry clip of 5.3 runs per over. Adam Voges picked up another 36* runs for the season and after adding 53 runs in the first 6 overs of Day 5 declared the innings giving the Vics a target of 334 or, more likely, the rest of the day to survive to secure the Shield. Voges decision to bat on Day 5 is one that can be debated, given that WA needed to give themselves maximum time to bowl out Victoria if they were to win the Shield.
The Bushrangers decided not to chase the target and settled on batting out for a draw. Rob Quiney got things off to the right start with a 4 hour 163 ball 53. But he was positively lightning compared to the retiring Dave Hussey’s 37* off 169 balls in 1 minutes shy of 4 hours but neither were a patch on Matthew Wade. Wade made 9 not out in just under 2 hours off 99 balls – missing out by 1 ball on possibly the greatest ever Cowan century (100 balls faced).
Victoria had secured the 37th Sheffield Shield title with a draw.
Greg Shippherd bowed out victorious after 11 years of coaching the Vics and has decided to retire his lucky green towel which brought him so much success.
The Shield final
With the Shield final shunted away from the home team’s home venue for the second year in a row and the result of the final a rather staid draw, there is once again speculation about the future of the final.
With all of the main cricket venues in each state except the WACA used for football and cricket (and other events in between) it does not make sense to have six venues on stand by for the Shield final when only 1 will be used. For the Shield final to continue it needs have a venue set when the fixtures are released. The best option would appear to be a neutral venue of suitable standard such as Canberra’s Manuka Oval.
The issue of draws in the Shield final is not going away however I believe the Shield final should remain in it’s current format – played over 5 days and with the top team needing only to draw. It is said to be as close as you can get to Test match cricket, with Shield final performances noted by national selectors and it provides a fitting finale to the first class season. Draws happen in cricket, it’s a fact, move on.
The season low
South Australia all out 45 v Tamania.
Set 359 for victory South Australia were abysmal collapsing to 4/5 as Ben Hilfenhaus ripped through the top order taking 3 for 0 in 4 overs. Hilfenhaus finished with bowling figures of 14-11-11-5 as South Australia were routed for 45 all out in 39 overs. Callum Ferguson top scored for the Redbacks with 11 off 94 balls in an innings containing 5 ducks.
The season highs
Doug Bollinger took a hatrick against Victoria at Robertson’s Oval in Wagga Wagga. He dismissed a trio of fast bowlers in Peter Siddle, Chris Tremain and Scott Boland.
Chris Lynn returned to the Queensland side post BBL after a shoulder injury. In his first match back he made 250 batting throughout Day 2 of the match against Victoria at the Gabba. Lynn finished the season with 439 runs from 5 matches. . At 25 years old he is a name to watch.
Michael Klinger ran up his 2nd 1000 run Shield season and showed he is still at the top of his game batting at number 3 for his new state WA.
Adam Voges had a memorable season. He made 1358 runs the 4th highest ever total of runs in a Shield season. The Shield final was his 100th Sheffield Shield match and he put himself in elite company by scoreing a century in his 100th match. He was also named Shield player of the year and has now been called up to the Test squad for the tours of the Caribbean and the Ashes.
The best names in Shield cricket
Sam Rainbird (Tasmania)
Cameron Brimblecombe (Queensland)
Marcus Labushagne (Queensland)
The 2014/15 Sheffield Shield XI
1. Ed Cowan (Tasmania)
Cowan was in rare form pre-BBL and finished the seasson with 815 and 4 centuries from 9 matches for Tasmania. In a team that performed dismally with the bat all season, Cowan was a beacon and his runs at the top ofthe order will be sorely missed by the Tigers.
2. Cam Bancroft (Western Australia)
Bancroft scored 2 centuries and 460 runs pre-BBL but endured a lean spell post-BBL. However he roared back into form with a double century in the last match of the home and away season and followed up with a half century in the final. In total he scored 896 runs with 3 centuries.
3. Michael Klinger (Western Australia)
South Australia must be kicking themselves for farewelling Michael Klinger, he scored over 1000 runs in the season including centuries for Western Australia. He could possibly have been a better option than Kelvin Smith opening the batting for the Redbacks.
4. Adam Voges (Western Australia)
A season like no other for the Warriors captain.
5. Cal Ferguson (South Australia)
Ferguson took on the responsibility of batting at number 3 for SA and delivered with 836 runs including 4 centuries.
6. Peter Neville (New South Wales) +
Peter Neville continued to impress as a wicket keeper batsmen. He claimed dismissals and made 764 runs, placing him 7th on the season’s run scorers list. Neville also scored his maiden double century when he made 235 not out against Tasmania.
7. Steve O’Keefe (New South Wales) – James Hopes
After his one test against Pakistan in the UAE in October, Steve O’keefe returned to domestic cricket to do what he does best – take bulk Shield wickets. From 9 matches the left arm orthodox spinner took 28 wickets at an average of 23.
He also scored 329 runs at an average of 36 with a top score of 99.
8. Nathan Rimmington (Western Australia)
Veteran paceman Rimmington proved to be a constant for Western Australia in a season where their key fast bowlers were struck down with injury. Jason Behrendorf, Joel Paris, and Nathan Coulter Nile all missed parts of the season. Rimmington played 10 of WA’s 11 matches and took 35 wickets at an average of 24.
9. Peter Siddle (Victoria)
Peter Siddle handled his omission from the test team by taking a swag of Shield wickets. In 7 matches he took 28 wickets at an average of 20 including the best figures of the summer, 8 for 54 against South Australia.
10. Andrew Fekete (Tasmania)
Fekete was a shining light for Tasmania with the ball this summer. The fast bowler was a model of consistency picking up 37 wickets at an average of 24 including two 5 wicket hauls.
11. Fawad Ahmed (Victoria)
The leg spinner was the leading wicket taker in Shield cricket with 48 wickets at an average of 25. He also returned the best ever figures in a Shield final with 8/89 off 40 overs.
James Hopes (Queensland)
The veteran keep’s getting the job done with both bat and ball at age 36.
The saddest of footnotes to the 2014/15 Sheffield Shield season cannot go unmentioned.
I hope there is a fitting tribute at Sheffield Shield level, perhaps a Phillip Hughes medal for the man of the match in games between NSW and SA at the SCG so the memory of this unique batsmen is not forgotten.
Matthew Wade showed his own tribute to Phil Hughes during the Shield final.
According to UK newspaper The Telegraph,
The image shows Hughes’ face, along with the Sydney Cricket Ground clock face, the scene of where Hughes was struck on the neck. In the finer detail, the clock can be seen to read 4:08, the Test number awarded to Hughes when he made his debut in February 2009.