Shield Season Set For Dramatic Finish
One of the most exciting Sheffield Shield seasons in recent years is set for a dramatic final round as the myFootDr Queensland Bulls host Western Australia at the Gabba starting on Tuesday the 15th of March.
Just six points separate the top four, meaning only WA and Tasmania are out of contention for the final.
NSW could claim the ultimate revenge over Victoria as four teams look to make two in the final round of the Sheffield Shield, starting Tuesday.
Victoria, NSW and Queensland control their own fate, while South Australia will be waiting on results to fall in their favour if they are to claim an unlikely finals berth.
Along with the Bulls clash with the Warriors, another defining game with see first placed Victoria host third-placed NSW in Alice Springs, where the two teams will meet for the first time since their abandoned clash at a slippery SCG in November.
NSW were left fuming when the Bushrangers were awarded all six points after the game in which only 34.2 overs of play was possible across three days.
It meant the Blues were forced to chase results for the remainder of the season, and after winning their past two matches, could take Victoria’s spot in the final with a win.
Such a result would have seemed unthinkable a month ago, but Victoria have squandered a 14-point lead at the top of the table and averaged just 17.6 per wicket with the bat to lose their past two games to Queensland and Tasmania.
“Our batting hasn’t been great, it’s as simple as that,” captain Matt Wade said.
“We’ve only scored over 200 once in our last four hits.
“We’ve got to address that … We’ve got to get some points to play in a Shield final and that’s a great reward to have.”
Even if Victoria aren’t able to arrest their slide against the Blues, they will still qualify for the final if the Bulls fall to WA at the Gabba.
Queensland are placed second and could also be forgiven for thinking about their own revenge after they lost to the Warriors by 24 runs in Perth last month.
A fresh Joel Paris, who was only called into the Warriors squad as cover for Nathan Coulter-Nile on the final day, dismantled Queensland in fading light after the start of day four was delayed due to an overwatered pitch.
A win would have all but wrapped up a finals spot for the Bulls, but after beating Victoria last week they have reclaimed their fate heading into the final round.
Meanwhile, fourth-placed South Australia have to defeat last-placed Tasmania in Glenelg and need Queensland and NSW to lose to clear their path to the top two.
The Redbacks could also sneak in if NSW win, but only if they claim more first innings bonus points than Victoria – not that wicketkeeper Alex Carey recommends his teammates should be monitoring scores.
“If you’re always looking at the results and (if) NSW are going to be beat Victoria then our minds wander and we’re not 100 per cent focussed on the task at hand,” he said.
“We’ll try not to worry about the other games and just play our best cricket.”
SHEFFIELD SHIELD LADDER:
Victoria – 46.62
Queensland – 45.66
NSW – 44.13
South Australia – 40.67
Western Australia – 36.18
Tasmania – 26.59
* Six points are awarded for a second-innings win.
** One point is awarded for a draw, while bonus points are always awarded based on runs scored and wickets taken in first 100 overs of first innings.