New South Wales have proven themselves simply too good in the One-Day Cup final – and the tournament for that matter – coming away with a 9-wicket win over South Australia.
Mitchell Starc put South Australia on the back foot from the first over as he bowled Travis Head with a great delivery, while Tim Ludeman would fall soon afterwards.
Tom Cooper and Callum Ferguson then played a brilliant partnership collecting 154 runs between them, with Cooper notching a century.
However when they fell the New South Wales bowlers tore through the remainder of the South Australian batting line up, leaving them all out 221 – Starc and Josh Hazlewood taking three apiece.
Nic Maddinson set the tone for New South Wales with some aggressive stroke-play to start their innings. He was dropped in the second over off the bowling of the hapless Daniel Worrall, but ultimately made just 44 off 29 balls.
From there Steve Smith and Ed Cowan cruised to victory. Smith finished with 84 and Cowan with 88, both going at more than a run per ball.
An underdog win for South Australia would’ve been memorable, but there’s no doubt that New South Wales have been the dominant team in this competition, and deserve their victory.
South Australia all out 221
New South Wales 1/223
Both New South Wales and South Australia are out to win their second One-Day Cup in a decade when they face off in the final at North Sydney Oval. Join The Roar for live scores and commentary from 9:45am (AEDT).
To say this final is a mismatch on paper is an understatement. The previous two seasons have seen NSW finish runners-up in the competition, while South Australia only managed to win one game each season, failing to get off the bottom of the table.
The disparity between the two teams was pronounced, even before it was announced that the tour of Bangladesh was cancelled. NSW had five players return, South Australia none.
It seemed the only consolation South Australia would have this year would be the induction of the Cricket Australia XI, with the new side taking up the role of the tournament’s piñata.
But they achieved much more.
South Australia have won four out of their five games since their loss against NSW early in the tournament. While they were beaten convincingly that day, at the same venue as today’s final, they displayed some quality, at least with the ball in hand.
South Australia will probably be happy if they can once again restrict NSW to 266. Spinners often struggle with the sadistically short boundaries of North Sydney Oval, but Adam Zampa and Tom Andrews more than pulled their weight that day, even if the statistics didn’t fully give them credit for their efforts.
In fact, Andrews and Zampa have comfortably pulled their weight throughout the tournament. Together they have 20 wickets at an average of 30.85, with Jon Holland the only spinner above them on the leading wicket-takers chart. They will be under pressure to bowl well, as South Australia have often only used five bowlers.
However the driving force of the South Australian bowling attack is Kane Richardson. With 14 wickets at 20.21 Richardson has been one of the best bowlers in the tournament. Yet despite his impressive form Richardson was unable to take a wicket when the sides last met.
Richardson needs to rectify that when he opens the bowling in the final, as NSW’s top order have been incredibly consistent.
Steve Smith is clearly the biggest wicket for South Australia. Despite making back-to-back ducks mid-competition, he is averaging 117 with a strike rate above a run a ball.
But there is plenty of strength elsewhere as Ed Cowan’s 44.66 is the lowest average of anyone in the NSW top four. Both Nic Maddinson and Moises Henriques have averages exceeding 60.
However, South Australia will take faith from the way NSW lost wickets at regular intervals once the partnership between Smith and Henriques was ended when the two sides met earlier.
What they won’t take confidence from is the way they lost regular wickets throughout their own innings, ultimately being all out for 110, with their batting line-up torn apart by Mitchell Starc who claimed 4 for 27.
With 23 wickets at an almost incomprehensible average of 7.47, Starc has taken four or more wickets in every game he has played in this tournament. While Victoria still managed to defeat NSW with this occurring, South Australia will likely have to buck the trend to avoid defeat.
They will need their captain Travis Head to survive longer this time around – he was out to Starc the first ball of the game, barring a wide, to a sensational yorker.
Since then – and his double century on the opening day – Head and his opening partner Tim Ludeman have found ways of getting themselves out, a lack of patience often causing their downfall. North Sydney Oval is often kind to those who invest time at the crease, and if they can see off Starc’s first spell, they may well reap the rewards.
Having won their last One-Day Cup almost 10 years ago NSW are well overdue. With one of the strongest teams ever to feature in the competition, they are massive favourites.