The Sheffield Shield final has had four draws in the last six years, and Cricket Australia have tinkered with the rules to avoid a repeat when the 2018-19 final gets underway on Thursday between Victoria and New South Wales at the Junction Oval.
Glenn Maxwell hasn’t given up hope of playing in the Ashes after scoring his maiden first-class double century against NSW.
After being dropped from Australia’s side for the first Test, Maxwell was told by chief selector Trevor Hohns to go back to the Sheffield Shield and score centuries to force his way into the side.
And he did just that on Friday at North Sydney Oval, as he went to stumps on 213 not out with Victoria strongly placed at 3-365.
Albeit without their Test bowlers, the Blues’ attack of Doug Bollinger, Trent Copeland, Stephen O’Keefe, Sean Abbott and Moises Henriques have represented Australia in some form of the game.
But Maxwell was comfortable from the outset. He pulled Bollinger for four to get off the mark, repeated the dose to bring up his century and, late in the day, drove Copeland down the ground to bring up his 200 from 226 balls.
All that, while Australia’s top order lost 4-69 to England at the Gabba.
“I hope I play some part in it (the Ashes) at some stage,” Maxwell said.
“But also that only comes if someone is out of ‘kick’ or gets injured, and I don’t wish that on anyone.
“If something happens along the way where I get picked, hopefully I can replicate exactly what I’m doing at the moment – at the higher level.”
Maxwell’s dominance against NSW was highlighted by the fact that when Travis Dean (36) was the second Bushranger dismissed at 2-162, Maxwell was already on 115.
He combined in a 148-run stand with Aaron Finch (76), while Cameron White was unbeaten on 24 at stumps.
But while Maxwell struck 30 boundaries, perhaps the most important stat will be that he batted for more than six hours – something he didn’t recall doing before.
“Today was a giant step forward for me in this format,” Maxwell said.
“My technique is starting to become a lot more repeatable which I think, going back a year, it wasn’t.
“I was probably looser and didn’t switch on for as long … I feel like I’ve really tightened that up.”
However there was still some of the Maxwell attacking flair he had become renowned for.
Just a day after flying back from Brisbane from being a late Ashes reserve, he was especially dominant on the drive and pull.
The 29-year-old twice hit Copeland back over his head for six, and launched one massive pull shot over the mid-wicket fence from Henriques.
The knock followed on from his two half-centuries earlier this month against South Australia, which weren’t enough to earn him the national No.6 spot after he played in the most-recent tours of India and Bangladesh.