Blues, Warriors to fight for Sheffield Shield glory

20 Mar 2014


The dust has settled from an action-packed final round of matches and Canberra’s Manuka Oval will play host to the Sheffield Shield final for the very first time, after New South Wales earned the right to host Western Australia.

Four states were all in the running for an appearance heading into the final day's play, but results favoured both of the finalists' way, paving the way for an intriguing five days ahead.

New South Wales staked their claim to top spot with a thrilling three-wicket victory over WA at the same venue last week.

Both sides experienced their periods of control throughout the four-day epic, but it was the hosts who managed to hold on tight in the latter stages to flex their muscles before the big show this weekend.

Click here to see the full scorecard.

A true Manuka wicket means we can expect to see much of what we witnessed at the ground last week, with a hell of a lot hanging on the coin toss.

If history's anything to go by, Western Australia hold a slender 3-2 lead in Shield finals played between the two States.

The infamous 1991-92 final saw the Warriors defeat a quality Blues outfit by 44 runs, following a nail-biting finish on the fourth day.

New South Wales

There is daylight between New South Wales and the next best state when it comes to Sheffield Shield titles. The Blues have held the Shield aloft a whopping 45 times, while rivals Victoria sit second with 28 to their name.

Their last title came in the 2007-08 season when they cruised to a 258-run over Victoria, thanks to a massive second innings total of 8-563. Not one player in the 13-man New South Wales squad lined up in that match.

Michael Clarke has been forced to withdraw from the final with a fractured shoulder, while Doug Bollinger's call-up to the Australian World T20 squad leaves the Blues without two of their biggest names.

On a better note, Moises Henriques returns to the team after touching back down in Sydney from his stint with the Australian team in South Africa.

Yesterday Ryan Carters and Stephen O’Keefe were named in the ACA Four-Day All*Star Team of the Year and will be hoping to continue their stellar seasons by playing a big part in the final.

New South Wales skipper Steve Smith has been in great touch, returning from South Africa with 269 runs, before he posted scores of 48 and 89 during last week’s Shield fixture.

NSW 13-man squad: Steve Smith (c), Sean Abbott, Ryan Carters, Trent Copeland, Josh Hazlewood, Moises Henriques, Nathan Lyon, Nic Maddinson, Peter Nevill, Steve O’Keefe, Kurtis Patterson, Ben Rohrer, Gurinder Sandhu

Western Australia

Western Australia chase their 16th title after spending 15 years in the Sheffield Shield wilderness.

They shocked everyone back in 1999 when they managed to topple Queensland at the Gabba – a task that had never been done in a final previously. Since then, they’ve been the only State to fail to qualify for a final.

The innings and 31-run victory came on the back of a century to an exuberant Simon Katich in the early stages of an outstanding first-class career.

The young Warriors will be led into the final by in-form veterans Marcus North and Adam Voges. Their seasons were celebrated on Wednesday when they were handed the captaincy duties for the ACA All*Star Four-Day Team of the Tear, with North selected as skipper.

Five Warriors make up the All*Star XI, with Sam Whiteman, Michael Hogan and Jason Behrendorff all being rewarded for great seasons.

Back in February they proved they were more than capable of taking home their first piece of silverware in a decade when they ran out eight-wicket winners over New South Wales. Behrendorff starred with nine wickets and will be hoping to make his mark in the biggest game of his career.

WA 14-man squad: Adam Voges (c), Ashton Agar, Cameron Bancroft, Jason Behrendorff, Ryan Duffield, Marcus Harris, Michael Hogan, Simon Mackin, Mitch Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Marcus North, Nathan Rimmington, Ashton Turner, Sam Whiteman