Sheffield Shield Final Day 5- Easy Ride For Bushrangers

Peter Handscomb & Matthew Wade embrace as Victoria win it's 30th Sheffield Shield tile.

Peter Handscomb & Matthew Wade embrace as Victoria win it’s 30th Sheffield Shield tile.

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My mate ‘Disgusted’ of Medindie couldn’t have put it better.
A splendid hard-fought Sheffield Shield final was tossed away in the first over of the last day when South Australian captain Travis Head opened the attack from the northern end of the Glenelg Oval.
With Victoria 2-95 overnight 98 runs were required to win. For us to have any sniff of a victory – I write as a Croweater – we had to make early breakthroughs.
Arriving early I ordered a flat white from Kath in the footy club bar, chewed over a couple of the best croissants in town (from Canelle’s at Stepney), and considered our options in discussion with a handful of old stagers.
A couple of wickets in the first over would be nice.
Cricket captaincy is not that hard.
As a fielding skipper if you’re going to create pressure you use your best bowlers. If I had a 10 year-old daughter I’m sure she would’ve said, ‘Open with Worrall and Mennie’. Worrall had taken career-best figures of 6 for 96 in the first innings and Mennie, with 51 wickets for the season (the most in the competition), had bowled brilliantly throughout the match with little reward. With Sayers injured, Worrall and Mennie should bowl at least the first three quarters of an hour; longer if they were taking wickets.
People around me asked what was Head doing? I can’t answer because it defied belief. A part-time off-spinner, surely he didn’t have such delusions of grandeur that he thought he was Jim Laker operating on an absolute turner. He was never going to run through the Victorian batting lineup.
His first over must have told him so as Stoinis and Handscomb silently registered a ‘thanks very much’ in adding easy singles. And his second over (which went for 11 runs) should definitely have caused his removal from the bowling crease. But, no.
Mennie was steady in his spell of five overs for 8 runs and Head’s overall figures of 0 for 22 off six were respectable. In another moment of another game this sort of bowling might’ve been OK. But we didn’t want respectability we wanted threat and we wanted it early.
After ten overs 29 runs had been added without fuss and the Bushrangers were assuming control at 2-124. Now came the heavy assault. In Head’s seventh over Handscomb took a single off the first ball and then watched his partner slam 2,6,6,6,6 from the next five. Stoinis, who had been remarkably subdued in reaching 27 from 114 balls, flew past his half-century.
The game was as good as over as Worrall replaced Mennie at the southern end and could be forgiven for giving away 12 runs first up as he had no target to bowl at. No one would’ve thought Head would continue bowling but he did. And Stoinis helped himself to four more boundaries. Three overs yielded 55 runs.
Opie came on at the northern end with just 11 runs remaining. ‘Gutless’ someone called. The suggestion seemed to be that Head should take the final medicine himself. Fittingly, the change brought an immediate result as Opie had Stoinis caught on the square-leg boundary from his first ball.
Five minutes later batsmen Handscomb and Wade were embracing in a victory hug followed by the whole side. The Vics deserved their win but the final hour was as easy a ride as the Bushrangers could’ve hoped for.

About Bernard Whimpress

Freelance historian (mainly sport) who has just written his 40th book. Will accept writing commissions with reasonable pay. Among his most recent books are George Giffen: A Biography, The Towns: 100 Years of Glory 1919-2018, Joe Darling: Cricketer, Farmer, Politician and Family Man (with Graeme Ryan) and The MCC Official Ashes Treasures (5th edition).


  1. F*ed in the Head?

  2. bob.speechley says

    Travis obviously lost his head. Inexplicable IMHO. From what I’ve seen I consider Worrall to be an outstanding bowler and Mennie’s figures speak for themselves. Pressure was needed from both ends.

    A cricket match isn’t over until the last ball is bowled but Trav determined otherwise and I imagine his team mates would not have been impressed.

  3. Wippasnapper says

    Latest scoop on Mick Lewis is that he was wiping gull shit off the ball. That Adelaide gull shit really sticks to a kookaburra no thanks to all the pie floaters Adelaide gulls scavenge. Watch this space!

  4. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Incompetent and bewildering blame must go on the whole SA coaching contingent as surely they worked out there plans together not just,Head.A bewildering game in so many aspects from,Lewis ball tampering
    to Handscomb belting the ball and the umpires seemingly deciding what should happen not re the rules of the game the umpiring in general was very poor any 1 against using technology in test cricket to get the correct decision didn’t watch this game as it was desperately needed

  5. bernard whimpress says

    Peter, Bob, Wippa

    Nice take guys, especially yours Bob about the inner feelings of team-mates plus an inventive excuse for Mick Lewis.

  6. bernard whimpress says

    I have to say Malcolm that I thought the umpires made the correct call in the Handscomb incident as the throw at the stumps was intimidatory. As for Lewis what could be done? Perhaps abandon the game at that point and award it to us. I did ring a mate at the end of day four and suggest we meet at the ground at midnight with a 44 gallon drum of oil and a rotary hoe to do our worst ala the Save George Davis committee (Headingley, 1975). That would certainly have ensured a draw and the Shield for us!

  7. 30 Shields now !!!

    That horrible two decades to finish the twentieth century is now almost a blur. The consecutive triumphs of 78-79 & 80-81 , followed by the 91-92 victory in Jamie Siddons farewell are wonderful memories, but in the context of the latter part of the 20th century they’re like diamonds in the sludge.

    The 21st century is a whole new ball game, with Victoria enjoying triumph in all forms of the game. Congratulations to the members of the winning team. Good onyas !!


  8. John Butler says

    Was Head protesting the decision not to pick a specialist spinner? Or was he just thinking about his next T20 commitment?

    Lewis’ action was just bizarre, seeing as it would so obviously be noticed. Probably fuels to the old cliche about fast bowlers in positions that require thinking. Every time someone like Gillespie bucks the trend, someone else revives it.

    Sounds like it was an interesting tussle. Pity it was virtually invisible to Victorian eyes.

  9. bernard whimpress says

    Thanks John, the point regarding a Head protest about non-selection of a spinner was raised among the cognoscenti yesterday but quickly dismissed. Your remark on Gillespie is apt. He was an intelligent cricketer from the beginning, a superb bowler who took over 250 Test wickets without the need for verbal intimidation.

  10. Paul Buxton says

    What about Siddons before the game proclaiming all out attack? History of these games is if you win the toss, you bat for 3 days a la Boycott and make 900 odd.

  11. Well done Victoria.

    Nothing is straightforward, BW.
    T20, scheduling, Victoria’s abandoned fixture with NSW back before Christmas…
    General hysteria around picking up a ball, umpiring…
    And now this strange captaincy from Sth Australia.
    Too much is made of the value of attacking. There is a time and place for everything.

    And so, it’s an outright win away from home to win the Shield Final.
    Well done Victoria.

  12. Thesaurus Rex says

    General failure of the SA batting also contributed to the outcome. Far too much falling on the shoulders of just two batters – Weatherald (who did exceptionally well) & Ross.

  13. bernard whimpress says

    So right Paul and ER

    We didn’t want all out attack. We wanted a big hundred supported by gritty 60s and 70s in four hours. Day 4 was an excellent day’s play yet only 209 runs were scored. I was concerned about the pre-match comment. I attended and wrote about the previous win, stating that Siddons played the most out-of-character innings in the history of the game on the last day. Siddons was a glorious stroke player but hampered by a thigh injury he made 4 (a single cover drive) from 135 balls in around about three hours. It wasn’t pretty but it was a magnificent contribution to SA’s valiant draw and title win.

  14. bernard whimpress says

    Thesaurus and others

    I agree there were many reasons why Victoria won and we lost. I’m only arguing that we made no attempt to win on the final morning. All the batting sides have been vulnerable at times – Vics 5-59 in second innings in Alice Springs. If we’d made a couple of strikes and you’d been 4-110 who knows? The least to expect is that we make you fight.

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