Almanac Cricket – Sheffield Shield Round 3: Last Chance Saloon

First Test aspirants have their final opportunity to impress the national selectors in this weekend’s Round 3 of the 2019/20 Marsh Sheffield Shield season. Some commentators suggest that there are as few as two positions open in the batting line-up with as many as six players fighting for them.


The first game, Tasmanian Tigers v Victorian Bushrangers, started yesterday with 15 wickets falling for just 245 runs. Of the Vics, only Nic Maddinson showed up, contributing 69 of his team’s paltry 127. Marcus Harris got just 13 and Will Pucovski scored only 3. In the Tasmanian reply so far, Matthew Wade did his chances a power of good with a gritty 44* off 120 balls in challenging conditions. Jackson Bird reminded all that he’s far from a spent force and will be a handy back-up in the unlikely scenario that several of the leading fast bowlers suffer injuries.


Today sees the start of the South Australian Redbacks v New South Wales Blues clash at Adelaide Oval. I hope that Kurtis Patterson is fit to play because, in spite of his huge talent, he is in danger of becoming the forgotten man of Australian cricket less than twelve months after breaking into the national team and scoring a century in his last Test. David Warner will also be hoping to get some good time in the middle in red ball cricket.For South Australia, Alex Carey will be looking to consolidate his apparent elevation to the role of Australia’s second choice wicketkeeper and possible new long-term captain. No pressure! Among the bowlers, most interest will centre on Mitchell Starc who took 10 wickets in his last match but is no certainty for the Test starting 11.


Tomorrow, the Queensland Bulls v Western Australia game commences at the Gabba with this game carrying the fortunes of more than a few players. For Queensland, Joe Burns and Usman Khawaja are contenders to partner Warner with both desperately in need of a big score (or two). Matthew Renshaw seems to have dropped out of Test reckoning. Meanwhile, Cameron Bancroft, Shaun Marsh and Marcus Stoinis will hope to keep their names in the discussion.


Even before these three fixtures play out, here’s my courageous selection for the First Test team: David Warner, Joe Burns, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Will Pucovski, Matthew Wade, Tim Paine (c), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon and Josh Hazlewood, James Pattinson (12th man).


Meanwhile, I took my son to the Marsh One-Day Cup game yesterday for his birthday to see the top-of-the-table clash between the Queensland Bulls and Western Australia at Metricon Stadium on the Gold Coast. Admittedly it was a one-dayer but several players had a chance to strut their stuff. It was a fairly standard game with Queensland scoring 268 which most thought was about 30 short of what was needed. Marnus Labuschagne put together a tidy 87, accumulating runs relentlessly rather than smashing the ball. That was left to young Max Bryant (64 0ff 51). Usman Khawaja made a useful 31 but never really looked in control while Joe Burns ran himself out for 1. Marcus Stoinis got the figures with 4/50 but it was spinner Liam O’Connor who was the pick of the bowlers. When the West batted, Shaun Marsh and Cameron Bancroft both looked in good form and had things well under control, scoring 85 and 72 respectively. In such form, you’d have thought that they should both be well in contention for the Test squad. However, both fell to poor shots and then Hilton Cartwright was foolishly run out to trigger an amazing collapse of 7/34 to hand Queensland a win by 26 runs. The game ended with Michael Neser snaffling a screamer of a caught and bowled that had boundary written all over it. Of the bowlers, Xavier Bartlett and Matthew Kuhnemann did well. A good birthday present for Liam and just reward for the six hour round trip drive from Noosa.


Feel free to proffer your thoughts on the team for the Test.


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About Ian Hauser

A relaxed, Noosa-based retiree with a (very) modest sporting CV. A loyal Queenslander, especially when it comes to cricket and rugby league. Enjoys travel, coffee and cake, reading, and has been known to appreciate a glass or three of wine. One of Footy Almanac's online editors who enjoys the occasional editing opportunity to assist aspiring writers.


  1. Oops, I forgot that Warner in playing in the T20 series this week! Will Pucovski missed out again in Victoria’s second innings today. I still think the selectors will pick him as their project for the season with a view to the longer term.

  2. Ian, over here in SA, the usual suspects continue to write about their displeasure about Warner. Obviously they have never made a mistake in their lives. He did the crime and paid an extremely harsh penalty – it’s now time to move on. I for one, hope he and Smith continue to excel.

  3. Luke Reynolds says

    Ian, I’d pick the same 12 as you. Good to see Chad Sayers back in the wickets today too.

    How did you rate Carrara as a cricketing venue? The outfield looked very ordinary on TV.

  4. Luke, I think Sayers is underrated but I fear he doesn’t get much of a look in at a national level because he’s seen as someone more suited to English swing and seam conditions. I think there’s more to him than that. Besides, think back to Alderman and Fleming.

    As for Carrara, a modest stadium in general and the surface looked decidedly patchy in places (particularly near the boundary in front of where we were seated). On one occasion, a WA fieldman looked to have a cut shot to wide third man well covered only for the ball to hit a bare sand patch and skid past him to the boundary, leaving him to look like a bit of a goose even though he was not at fault. Undoubtedly cost his side 3 runs. Sliding fields men tended to cut up the surface far too easily.

    Two big plusses of the facility – the bright, cheery and friendly staff of the stadium who made you feel welcome; the toilets were very clean and well maintained.Also grateful for the absence of so-called ‘entertainment’ in the form of loud music, and no ‘listen to me, I’m your ground announcer’ clown on the microphone. Just a succinct and gentle information service about incoming batsmen, bowling changes and scoring milestones.

    I have a particular liking for Allan Border Field in Brisbane (apart for the all too loud announcers).

  5. I’d be very surprised, though not upset, if S Marsh misses out.

    Yes he’s only passed 50 once in his last 15 test innings, and i like the majority of pundits around the country would not pick him, but we’re not the selectors. He’s made a double ton against Victoria, he made a half century in the Marsh Cup match on Thursday, and was a test incumbent until injured. It would be remiss of me to forget what state he’s from; the same as the Australian coach.

    I’d be happy for Ian’s team to wear the baggy green for the first test, but all will be revealed.


  6. A couple of issues here, Ian.

    There is the very important matter of the Australia A v Pakistan match next weekend, which will be a full-scale dress rehearsal for First Test aspirants. History tells us that selectors tend to place great import on performances in these trial games.

    For me, Marcus Harris (266 @ 53) is well in front of Joe Burns (126 @ 31) in the fight for the other opener’s spot. A one-day game in which he batted at #4 counts for nought.

    Also, it is high time that Cricket Tasmania were brought to heel for the sub-standard green-tops which they produce early every season. The toss should not determine the result of any match. Had the Vics bowled first, the positions would have been reversed.

    If Shaun Marsh is selected in the Test team, the selectors would have failed in their duty to Australian cricket, and should be asked to resign immediately.

  7. Smokie, you make a good point about the Australia A game. A similar thing happened just before the start of the Ashes series. Perhaps I was a tad premature with the use of the phrase ‘last chance saloon’ but there’s nothing like runs on the board whenever you can to keep your name up there for consideration.

    You also make a fair comment about Harris and Burns, the latter not having distinguished himself recently. Perhaps it’s my Bananabender bias coming out but I think Burns has a good temperament and would be a good foil to Warner, plus the left- and right-hander combination at the top.

    As for Shaun Marsh? Current form says ‘pick him’ but at, age 36, he’s a stopgap at best when we need to look to the future, hence my choice of Pucovski (in spite of a poor game this weekend) who will get another chance in the Australia A match.

  8. roger lowrey says

    I am with you Ian albeit with one change. I would have Harris instead of Burns for same reason as Smokie.

  9. Matthew Wade in good form with two half centuries in their win over Victoria.

    Joe Burns made 76 for the ‘banana-benders’, yesterday. Has he timed it ?

    Usman Khawaja is 30 not out at stumps. Can a big score get him a recall?


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