Four ways to improve the Sheffield Shield
After sitting back and watching the first three ashes Test matches, it has become known that England prepared to put the national side first in terms of Test matches.
It has taken years to develop players of Test silk through a strong first class base.
Keep in mind England were the creators of T20 cricket 10 years ago but this didn’t stop them.
There were hard times but a side doesn’t transform completely for the better in a month.
Professionalism has helped but having enough county sides to form two divisions has been crucial in developing quality.
The best of the best have come through and having international players being able to play for county sides has helped players at the lower level.
Look at Ricky Ponting having a stint for example.
Here are my four suggestions to make Shield cricket stronger here in Australia.
1. Have pitches represent what they are like in Tests for the whole season
The worrying trend for last summer was the result based type of pitches produced, teams were getting bowled out for not much and not many batsmen were putting their hands up for selection with runs on the board.
There used to be a time when names such as Stuart Law, Brad Hodge, Jimmy Maher, David Hussey and Darren Lehmann were consistently scoring runs in the mid 2000s.
However, not one player was able to score over 1000 runs last season.
Players will be better prepared for a call up if they play on wickets that represent Test conditions every single match.
2. Schedule first class matches in time with the international season as much as possible
I know the Big Bash has taken over the prime part of the summer but instead of having a one-day fest to start off the season it would be better to play red ball cricket from the start of October until the middle of December.
Then we could have the Big Bash, then the one-day tournament, so that players are in form in the red ball game when Test matches will be played.
3. Encourage sides to sign at least one overseas international player for some of the season
Once again if you can get international standard players over here to play against state teams other than in the Big Bash, it will provide new challenges playing against them but it will benefit playing with them as well.
Look at South Australia. They have got Johan Botha. He has tried to establish a culture and after years of being the easy beats they became more competitive.
Imagine Tino Best of West Indies playing for Western Australia on the WACA steaming in, or Dinesh Chandimal of Sri Lanka opening the batting for New South Wales and playing against spinners which will present new challenges for those bowling to him.
4. Encourage sides to play at least one proper spin bowler
After watching Australia get bamboozled against India earlier in the year and recently by Graeme Swann, it is clear that in order to be successful in all parts of the globe then you must play spin well enough.
There has been a lack of spin bowlers being produced and nurtured for the future and spinners should be encouraged even when they are getting hammered. This will happen to all bowlers at some point.
Currently, only Michael Clarke can play spin well in the Test side and remember he debuted in 2004. It’s not something that a batsmen can turn around in a week in the nets it takes time.
Glenn Mitchell’s Fourth Test preview