Sheffield Shield a race between three as Blues crumble, Tigers and Bushrangers win thrillers

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    The Queensland Bulls have all but secured hosting rights to the Sheffield Shield final after a crushing victory Western Australia, while the other spot will be fought out in a winner takes all duel. These are all the key points from Round 9 of the competition.

    Queensland book hosting rights to Shield final
    With just a single match remaining for all six states, the Queensland Bulls have more than an eight-point lead at the top of the competition.

    Given there are six points for a win to go with bonus points (which Queensland should get regardless of result), it is almost unthinkable Queensland would not host the final at this point.

    It follows another crushing win, with the Bulls finishing the season in fantastic form. They overcame the Western Australia Warriors by 211 runs in the second last round of the season, knocking them over for just 93 in the final innings of the match.

    While their first innings effort wasn’t so convincing, setting up the match through another big Matt Renshaw tonne was.

    Youngster Charlie Hemphrey was also impressive for the Bulls, scoring a not out century in the first and then 68 in the second dig.

    In short, the Bulls seem like a team in form and with home ground advantage all but secured for the final, must be red-hot favourites to win the competition.

    Victoria and Tasmania set to play knockout match in Hobart
    While the Bulls have their spot secured in the final, the other will be battled out in Hobart.

    Tasmania and Victoria, running second and third will face off during the final round of competition, with the two sides separated by just .18 of a point.

    It’s incredibly tight and given Blundstone Arena is a result wicket more often than not, it seems only rain could stop either of these sides qualifying.

    Even then, like the Bulls, they have an eight-point gap back to the next team on the table, being the fourth-placed New South Wales Blues who have no guarantee of beating the league-leading Bulls anyway.

    Obviously, whoever wins, goes to the final. If it was to be drawn, then it will come down to bonus points, so every run over 200 and wicket in the first innings is going to be absolutely crucial for both sides in the pursuit for the final if weather does intervene.

    Both sides have been in good form, claiming close wins in Round 9. The Tigers beat South Australia by just 16 runs, while the Victorians beat New South Wales by 23.

    Matt Renshaw strikes again
    The turn around in form of former Australian opener Matt Renshaw has been startling over the second half of the Shield season.

    The first half was a disaster, but since he began to score runs, his scores have been 4, 51 not out, 56, 32, 170, 0, 112, 12, 3 and 143 not out. It means he has 583 runs at 72.87 in his last five matches.

    While some not outs help to distort the average slightly, Renshaw has three centuries and another two half-centuries in that space of time and no matter what attacks he is facing, it’s clear the break from cricket over the New Year period has done him the world of good.

    His form has been superb and if Queensland are to win the competition, Renshaw must play a major role – which, to be fair, I’ve said three weeks in a row, but he just continues to drive the point home, heaping pressure on other openers with Australian aspirations.

    New South Wales Test aspirants don’t cut it
    While the Blues have a heap of players in South Africa, their performances since they left just haven’t cut it.

    This is a team with plenty of players who would love to be donning the Baggy Green, yet a team who can’t even beat Victoria at the Junction Oval.

    While it came down to the wire, the Blues should have been further ahead. Regular wickets when batting though, combined with an attack lacking any sort of penetration have killed them in their pursuit to play in Australia’s biggest domestic match for the season.

    While Steven O’Keefe was strong, taking match figures of 10 for 152 from 64.1 overs, he received no support with the ball. While there were plenty of starts with the bat from the likes of Daniel Hughes, Kurtis Patterson, Ed Cowan, Kurtis Patterson and Moises Henriques, no one could go on with it and in the end, it was the difference. On the other hand, Marcus Harris in the first and then Travis Dean in the second made centuries for the visitors.

    Could Travis Head ever have a Test cricket career?
    There are times gone by when calls have been made for South Australian captain and middle order batsman Travis Head to be considered for the national team.

    Head is an expert white ball player – something we have seen in both the international ODI and T20 arenas, yet, he hasn’t quite made the switch to performing consistently in the Shield as yet.

    The 24-year-old has a career first-class average of just 36.07, which is never going to land you in the Australian Test team.

    A good 85 against Queensland last round, as well as 145 against Tasmania in Round 9 has put Head in some very solid form. He doesn’t appear to be on the radar for national selection at the moment, and without a Sheffield Shield final to aim at, there is nothing to play for except more runs in the final match.

    Head’s natural aggression makes him a perfect fit down the order, while his part time off spin also adds versatility to any team he plays in.

    Despite that, he needs to focus on the red ball side of the game and have a big season in 2018-19, because at his age, the window of opportunity for a Baggy Green – barring any Mike Hussey like form runs – is running out.

    Here is all the key information you need to know heading into Round 10.

    Sheffield Shield ladder
    1. Queensland Bulls – 47.87
    2. Tasmania Tigers – 39.29
    3. Victoria Bushrangers – 39.11
    4. New South Wales Blues – 31.79
    5. Western Australia – 28.54
    6. South Australia – 28.03

    Round 10 fixtures (times AEDT)
    Wednesday March 14 – Saturday March 17: Tasmania vs Victoria at Blundstone Arena, Hobart
    Wednesday March 14 – Saturday March 17: New South Wales vs Queensland at North Dalton Park, Wollongong
    Wednesday March 14 – Saturday March 17: South Australia vs Western Australia at Gilderol Stadium, Glenelg

    The Sheffield Shield grand final will begin on Friday, March 23.

    Roarers, what did you make of Round 9? Drop a comment and let us know.

    Scott Pryde
    Scott Pryde

    One of the mainstays of The Roar, Scott Pryde has written over 1200 articles covering everything from rugby league to basketball, from tennis to cricket. You can follow him on Twitter @sk_pryde.

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    The Crowd Says (38)

    • March 11th 2018 @ 9:19am
      George said | March 11th 2018 @ 9:19am | ! Report

      Assuming you’re referring to recent round – NSW played VIC in Melbourne.

    • March 11th 2018 @ 9:54am
      Don Freo said | March 11th 2018 @ 9:54am | ! Report

      Remember Tassie’s start to the year…and their results in previous years? Their turn around is a real testament to Adam Griffith’s coaching.

      BTW, Charlie Hemphrey is no ‘youngster’. He is a 28yo Pom.

    • March 11th 2018 @ 10:14am
      no one in particular said | March 11th 2018 @ 10:14am | ! Report

      Victoria weren’t the vistors, and how many Kurtis Pattersons are there?

    • Roar Guru

      March 11th 2018 @ 10:17am
      Rellum said | March 11th 2018 @ 10:17am | ! Report

      What a great win by the Bulls. That was an outright in 2 and half days after all the rain against a team that still was a strong batting line up. We really smashed them to pieces on the last day.

      The pitch did offer a bit for the bowlers if you bowled well. Hemphrey and Renshaw played so well to score the way they did but WA bowled poorly at times. Then our unheralded bowling unit did the rest. The question now is will Monty Burns come back and will he regain the form he showed and which of Steketee or Doggett will get the third seamers spot for the final.

      Interesting to note, 3 of the top 6 run scores this season are from SA and yet they are doing so poorly.

      • March 11th 2018 @ 10:30am
        JohnB said | March 11th 2018 @ 10:30am | ! Report

        Play your home games in Adelaide and you’re a fair chance of making some runs. Their game v Qld in Cairns was also on a flat pitch, presumably their game in Melbourne also was and judging by the scores their game in Perth that was as well. So all good for run-making, less so for scoring points in the comp.

        • Roar Guru

          March 11th 2018 @ 6:20pm
          Rellum said | March 11th 2018 @ 6:20pm | ! Report

          It says more to me how Sayer’s form dropped off a bit. Their bowlers usually did enough with the ball to take 20 wickets at Adelaide.

      • Roar Rookie

        March 12th 2018 @ 1:51pm
        Brissie Boy said | March 12th 2018 @ 1:51pm | ! Report

        which of Steketee or Doggett will get the third seamers spot for the final.

        Would think Doggett would be a clear in for the Final ahead of Steketee, who Peirson seemed a bit reluctant to throw the ball to in the second innings, even when Wildermuth came off injured.

        Steketee wouldn’t be a terrible option but Doggett has been consistently the better bowler in his debut season.

        • Roar Guru

          March 12th 2018 @ 2:36pm
          Rellum said | March 12th 2018 @ 2:36pm | ! Report

          I would be picking Doggertt, I have a feeling the QLD hierarchy may go with experience, assuming they get a say.

    • March 11th 2018 @ 10:20am
      JohnB said | March 11th 2018 @ 10:20am | ! Report

      It was a great ton by Charlie Hemphrey in difficult batting conditions – but he’s 28, not a youngster. Stunning collapse by WA on the last day given Qld had cruised to 2-250 odd immediately before it, and even taking into account that WA had to try to chase the runs.

      On a similar note, Travis Head has been around for ages, but is still only 24. At 24 time is not running out for you as a possible test batsman. His overall FC average remains underwhelming, but when you’re looking at someone who started as a 19 year old, you have to look past the career average. I think he needs to do more to get in the test side than he has done (for example, make runs when the pitch isn’t flat or when you’re not playing a virtual one day knock in a big 4th innings chase when the pressure is a bit off because your team isn’t expected to win) but career average is of limited relevance. Michael Clarke started in FC cricket at about the same age as Head, and was going on 24 when he made his test debut – and had a FC average of about 36 at the time.

    • March 11th 2018 @ 11:29am
      RM said | March 11th 2018 @ 11:29am | ! Report

      That was a champion performance from a young Bulls side. Sent in to bat on a green seamer, 5/110 in the 1st innings but scrapped their way to 263 which turned out to be a match-winning total. From that point on, they absolutely dominated every facet of the game.
      I love that they didn’t just let the game meander into a draw on day 4 as well. They could have easily just banked those points, increased their lead on top of the ladder and then looked ahead to the next game. Instead they backed themselves to go for the win,then came out and blew WA away. That is a team that truly believes they’re the best in the competition, and the ladder backs them up on that. Astonishing after I had them down for the wooden spoon. Just didn’t have any faith at all in the bowling attack. I think the Duke ball has helped bowlers like Neser and Wildermuth after the Christmas break.
      Hopefully they can keep that momentum going, and not get too far ahead of themselves. Still a game against NSW to go and I don’t want them already thinking ahead to the Final.
      On a final note – great to see Renshaw in particular grinding the WA aspirations into the dirt in that game. Must have been satisfying after Justin Langer campaigned so hard to get him replaced in the Test team.

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