The Sheffield Shield Final: Cricket Australia has gotten this spectatularly wrong!

In case you have missed it, the Sheffield Shield season is drawing to a close with Victoria winning the right to host Western Australia in the final.

Unfortunately for the Victorians, the MCG is not available due to World Cup duties and their attempts to hold the final at an alternate venue has fallen to the requirement that the game be held at a venue suitable for a first class fixture.  

In this context one turns to the the Sheffield Shield’s 2014/15 Conditions of Play which state: 

The team that finished first on the points table at the conclusion of the preliminary matches shall earn the right to host the final at a suitable first class venue within its state, provided that this venue is acceptable to Cricket Australia.  Should the team waive this right, the choice shall be offered to the team that finished second.  Otherwise the decision shall be made by Cricket Australia.

That should mean that the Victorians, having not been able to source a qualifying ground within its state (my emphasis added), have waived their rights to host the final and the Western Australian ought to have the right to host the final offered to them. 

Instead, Cricket Australia has decided, unilaterally it would seem, to host the final at the Bellerive Oval in Tasmania without first offering the final to the West Australian cricket team to host. 

This is an absolute travesty on two counts: 

  1. The playing conditions clearly state that the game should have been offered to West Australia to host; and 
  2. Cricket Australia knew at the start of the summer that there was a three in six chance of this problem, potentially arising, given that Adelaide and Sydney are also hosting World Cup games over the next two weeks, and still they included the playing condition they have now ignored. 

The failure to comply with the playing conditions is astonishing.  If the Victoria Cricket Association can not host the final, or did not plan to host the final and thus did not prepare a second ground, they have no one to blame but themselves and they should not benefit from Cricket Australia now trying to, seemingly, right this perceived wrong.

This game should be being played in Perth as the playing conditions allows: simple.  To play it elsewhere is just another indication of how little importance Cricket Australia places on the traditions of the first  class game in this country and the rules it itself has set.  

The best cricket news of 2014

It has been reported today that Sean Abbott is back bowling again and has been named in the New South Wales team to play Queensland in the Sheffield Shield game kicking off tomorrow.  To me, in the aftermath of Phil Hughes’ passing, this is the best cricket news I have heard this year.  It would have been very simple for Sean Abbott to not play this game but the fact that he is is heartening and a first step in what will, no doubt, be a long process of dealing with Phil Hughes’ passing.

I hope New South Wales win the toss and bowl first and hand the new ball to Abbott to help him get straight into the game and go some way to get through the inevitable nerves he is going to have.

Regardless of how he plays and how he bowls, I say already “Well Played young man!” because all that matters is that he is  playing.

Bring on Tuesday!

Cricket: 2014/15 Queensland Bulls Squad Named

Queensland Cricket has today announced its squad for the 2014/15 season.  The squad is:

Cameron BOYCE

Nick BUCHANAN

Joe BURNS

Ben CUTTING

Luke FELDMAN

Jason FLOROS

Peter FORREST

Cameron GANNON

Ryan HARRIS (Cricket Australia)

Chris HARTLEY

James HOPES

Usman KHAWAJA

Chris LYNN

Alister McDERMOTT

Michael NESER

James PEIRSON

Nathan REARDON

Mark STEKETEE

Nick STEVENS

 Rookies

James BAZLEY

Ben McDERMOTT

Ronan McDONALD

Matthew RENSHAW

Billy STANLAKE

Jack WILDERMUTH

Interestingly, Nathan Hauritz has been left out of the squad and will need to make any return to the Queensland Bulls top XI through club cricket.

No annoucement has yet been made about the schedule for first class / short form domestic cricket in Australia this summer however this squad looks a strong chance to defend its Ryobi Cup title from last season and again challenge for the Sheffield Shield.

Sheffield Shield 2013/14: Player of the Year

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.

Cricket: Sheffield Shield points table right now …

At lunch on day 3 of the final round of games in the Sheffield Shield the points table (for those teams still in the running) looks like this:

New South Wales               28 points

Western Australia              26 points

South Australia                   26 points

Queensland                        24 points

South Australia will not add to its points tally.  There are a number of possible outcomes that could still arise:

  • If New South Wales win outright: they will go to 34 points and Western Australia will remain on 26 points.
  • If Western Australia win outright: they will go to 32 points and New South Wales will remain on 28 points.
  • If New South Wales and Western Australia end up drawing there will be no change to the points from this game.
  • If Queensland win outright: they will go to 30 points.
  • If Queensland lose outright or draw againt Victoria: they will stay on 24 points.

That being the case, the finals could end up looking this way:

  • If Queensland do not win outright: the final will be between New South Wales and Western Australia with the only issue in dispute in Canberra being the venue.
  • If New South Wales and Queensland win outright, the final will be in New South Wales (likely Canberra) between New South Wales and Queensland.
  • If Western Australia and Queensland win outright, the final will be Western Australia between Western Australia and Queensland.

The regular session is reaching an exciting crescendo with all eyes on Canberra and Melbourne for the next moves made by the teams.

Cricket: The Sheffield Shield finalists are becoming clearer

We are half way through Round 10 of the Sheffield Shield and, despite some of the bizarre play we have seen already, the identity of the combatants for the final are now much clearer.

In Canberra, the chances of the Western Australians were blown away in just 8 overs.  At 5-15 there was no recovery possible against the pace of the New South Welshmen and they were bundle out for 82.  As matters stand at the start of day 3, Western Australia lead by 34 runs with 5 second innings wickets in hand.  New South Wales are the short priced favourites for outright victory which would see them host the final.

At Bellerive Oval, the Tasmanians have played the South Australians out of a finals berth.  Only able to bat for 55 overs in the face of some excellent bowling from Jackson Bird, playing his first red ball game in 9 months, the South Australians have spent the better part of a day and half in the field.  They are almost 300 behind with ttwo days to go.  The prospect of the outright victory the South Australians need to secure a finals spot looks very remote.

The final match of the round sees Queensland on top of the Victorians at the MCG in a fixture they need to win outright to play in the finals.  That said they will be heartened by both what is going on at the field with the Bulls leading by 73 runs with 5 wickets in hand and also the fact that South Australia now look out of contention and Western Australia unlikely to secure any points from the game in Canberra. His efforts have received none of the plaudits of those from south of the border, but Queensland’s position has been set up by the bowling of James Hopes.  6 for 40 from the Queensland captain bowling with a stress fracture in his back is the epitome of a “captain’s knock”. Day 3 is “D” day for Queensland.  A lead of 150 / 200 and some early wickets will see them in the box seat.

New South Wales is in the box seat to host the final.  The other combatant looks likely to be Queensland however if they do not best the Victorians the finalist will be Western Australia.  Today will be a very interesting day of cricket.  It kicks off in a couple of hours. The live stream is available on foxsports.com.au.