Almanac Cricket – A comeback for the Sheffield Shield?

Peter Handscomb & Matthew Wade embrace as Victoria win their 30th Sheffield Shield tile.

 

Five cricket seasons ago, ‘Swish’ Schwerdt lamented the demise of the once proud Sheffield Shield competition. Go back and read his incisive questions by clicking HERE.

 

Fast forward to the start of the 2019/20 Shield season and interest hasn’t been this high for ages. How come? It seems that at least the first three Rounds of the competition leading into the Test series against Pakistan will draw a lot of  interest around the country even if attendances are likely to be modest (to put it politely).

 

It’s all about a Test team desperately seeking form batsmen.

 

General opinion has it that only Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne are dead set for spots in the top six. Given his batting average in Tests on home soil, it’s hard to see David Warner missing out, so that leaves three spots up for grabs. Matthew Wade scored a ton in the final Ashes Test but wouldn’t be the first batsman dropped after achieving this feat.

 

The first Round of the Shield threw up any number of possibilities. What do we make of the run feast between Victoria and South Australia in Melbourne? A couple double centuries, a few centuries – but what were they worth on what was clearly a road of a wicket? They weren’t the highest scorers in that game, but probably the most important innings were those of Marcus Harris and Will Pucovski. Harris had a lousy Ashes series (along with a few others) but this will keep his name under consideration; Pucovski may well be ‘the future’ and the series against Pakistan might be a good opportunity to blood the youngster. Alex Carey? Still seen as predominantly a white ball player at international level? But his score will keep his name in conversations, too.

 

Over in Perth, Tim Paine got among them and did his confidence no harm. Hopefully the precursor of a good home season with the bat. Mitch Marsh! What do you say? More self-inflicted damage in more ways than one. Possibly the best form to come out of that game was the unsung Jackson Bird – not one of the first names to come to mind for a Test spot but not out of the question either.

 

At the Gabba it was more like a case of blokes playing themselves down the pecking order. Matthew Renshaw and Unman Khawaja did themselves no favours whatsoever while Joe Burns was solid without going on with it. Daniel Hughes showed a bit of class in NSW’s second dig to get them home but, after his first innings century, Warner was back to his off stump foibles the second time round and put question marks back in his (and our) minds. Harry Conway looked as good as any of the bowlers and followed up on his menace from the one-dayer at Alan Border Field a few weeks ago. Keep his name in the back of your brain.

 

Overall, I’d say that we came away from last weekend’s Round with just as many questions as we started. So there’s all to play for when the second Round gets underway on Friday. NSW takes on Tasmania at Drummoyne Oval in Sydney, Queensland hosts South Australia at the Gabba, and Western Australia play Victoria at the WACA.

 

As the summer progresses, we’ll see if interest in the Shield competition is maintained. It might depend on how the Test team fares and how willing the selectors are to chop and change underperforming players.

 

And can anyone please give me an ‘idiot’s guide’ explanation to the points scoring rules for the Shield? It bemuses me that two teams who took first innings points in drawn matches can come away from the weekend with fewer points than the teams they bested. Passing strange.

 

 

Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.

 

 

About Ian Hauser

A relaxed, Noosa-based retiree with a (very) modest sporting CV. A Queenslander through and through, especially when it comes to cricket and rugby league. I enjoy travel, good coffee and cake, reading, and have been known to appreciate a glass or three of wine. As well as being one of Footy Almanac's online editors, I moonlight as an editor for hire - check me out at www.writerightediting.com.au

Comments

  1. Luke Reynolds says

    Ian, disappointing pitch at the Junction. Not what first-class cricket should be.

    Great to see Paine get a ton. Love being able to watch parts of all 3 games on the Cricket Australia app and on YouTube.

    I have no idea how the confusing points system works, which is not good to keep interest in a competition.
    What was wrong with the old system of 2 points for first innings & 6 points for outright? Why did we need to change?

  2. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    That’s a very useful summary Ian. Thanks.

    I just hope that Barrie Robran can force his way back into the Redbacks side.

  3. Luke, I’m with you with regard to points allocated – keep to the KISS principle. At least everyone understands it!

    ‘Swish’ – ah, Barrie Robran! At his peak during my years as a resident in the City of Churches’. Simply the best I ever saw in the flesh.

  4. I’ll admit I’m not across the details, but SA goes past Vic in a four day, two innings match and receives about half the points. Explain it to me in the morning, or when I’ve had eleven beers.

  5. I was rather surprised that our blokes didn’t perform too well, Ian, especially in that first innings. Was really hoping Joe Burns would get a big one, to impress the selectors. Looking forward to seeing them at the G in a few weeks. I love the shield.

  6. Good summary, Ian.
    I wouldn’t get to hung up on asking too many questions after one round. Let’s see what the next two rounds bring.
    I reckon Tim Paine’s 100 was as significant an innings as any in the three matches, particularly as it came when many other Tassie bats were struggling. It really puts a full-stop to any talk of replacing him in the short-term, I believe. Carey just has to keep making runs and wait his turn, as heaps of keepers have had to do throughout the decades. At least he will be playing for Australia in the short-forms.

  7. I hope this doesn’t come off as whistler blowing, and cost someone their job, but the gate lady at last week’s junction oval shield game kidded my mates and me that our gold coin donation upon entry would go to the Carlton football club. Understandably, I snapped shut my wallet and violently shoved it back into the deepest part of my pocket, before commenting, ‘You’re costing the shield millions with that! I suggest you get a new line.”

    We were a having a fun ole time on the Sunday arvo when they abruptly called the game off 30 minutes before tea. I can’t say I was ropeable, as there wasn’t much goin on out in the middle, but it did upset the rhythm of our day. We, and it seemed the other 500 odd folks there, were calibrated for a bit more coziness on the sun bathed grassy surrounds and it felt a little jarring having our arvo euthanized so suddenly. I reckon cricket’s gotta do better than that.

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