The final round of the Sheffield Shield season is now done and dusted and the finalists for this season have been decided with New South Wales and Western Australia to play in the final. That game will commence next Friday in Canberra.
That factor having been decided, it is time to look back on the season that was and consider some of the great performances during the season. I have gone over all of the scorecards of the season and all of the highlights of games that I could find and I keep coming up with one name for my player of the year: James Hopes.
Now there are two things that need to be said at the outset:
- Hopes will never receive an award of this type from the powers that be at Cricket Australia. He is too old and he comes from Queensland and both of those factors weigh against him in the minds of James Sutherland and Pat Howard.
- Many will say that I am biased because I am a Queenslander and a James Hopes fan. Read what follows and I will defy you to make that allegation.
This is the season that was for Hopes:
- He captained the Queensland team with passion and showed again that he is one of the best strategic minds in the game by lifting his team to the penultimate game before the final of the Sheffield Shield with an injury ravaged squad (the names Pomersbach, Cutting and Gannon were all missing from that penultimate fixture).
- With the ball he often took the new ball for Queensland and did so after injuries had decimated his team’s bowling stocks. 38 wickets at an average of 24.48 was his return, which was better than any fast bowler in the competition.
- Batting at number 6 in an, at times, batting in order in flux, he was a stabilising influence scoring 389 runs at an average of 32 with four fifties.
- He did all of this after being diagnosed with a stress fracture before round 1 of the Sheffield Shield season.
Now I ask you: was there a better all-round or more courageous effort by any player in the Sheffield Shield this summer? I think any fair-minded supporter would go a long way to try to find one.
Well played this season Hopesy!
Postscript: He is one of the many players in this competition who should have been honoured with a baggy green cap but, for whatever reason, the time was not right (or the selectors went with a southern option). That, in my view, it a travesty.