Sheffield Shield final: Queensland vs Tasmania preview and prediction

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    Can Tasmania win the Sheffield Shield away from home against Queensland? (AAP Image/Daniel Munoz)

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    The Queensland Bulls will look to put their minor premiership and home ground advantage to good use when they take on the Tasmania Tigers in the 2017-18 Sheffield Shield final, which gets underway on Friday.

    The fixture will be played at the Allan Border Field in Brisbane with the Gabba (as with many grounds around the country) being out of action for cricket thanks to the beginning of the AFL season.

    The Sheffield Shield final has often been shrouded in controversy, with home teams regularly employing negative tactics. The right of finishing top of the table means the team – the Bulls in this case – only need a draw to take out Australia’s premier domestic competition.

    Of course, the match is played over five days instead of the regular four, but there have only been three visiting teams to win the final this century.

    Victoria were the last in 2015-16 when they beat South Australia in Glenelg by seven wickets. The other two home matches lost were both by Queensland against New South Wales, with the Blues winning in 2003 and 2005 on green tops at the Gabba.

    So while the home team winning by grinding out a big first innings has been the norm, Queensland doesn’t have the greatest memories of hosting the big game.

    Queensland have, however, won the competition five times this century, the last of those in 2012 when they, you guessed it, beat Tasmania by three wickets.

    Tasmania, on the other hand, have won the Sheffield Shield three times since 2000, grabbing it in 2007, 2011 and 2013.

    Two of their victories came against New South Wales, while the last in 2012 saw them draw against Queensland at the Bellerive Oval. They batted a staggering 173.4 overs in their first innings on that occasions, taking Queensland right out of the game.

    They will have to do differently this time of course, and that’s not beyond them. After sneaking into the final with a convincing win over Victoria in their last fixture, the Tigers will be full of confidence.

    The Sheffield Shield was such a closely run competition in 2018 that the two most in-form teams made the final. It’s as simple as that – with three rounds to go, all six teams were still in the hunt with just a handful of points separating the field.

    That form for Tasmania has seen them win three of their last four matches, beating Western Australia, South Australia and the aforementioned match against the Bushrangers, while they also drew with New South Wales on a lifeless deck at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

    The Tigers run to the final can be attributed to their bowling attack, which has been in stunning form. Maybe the only problem heading into the finals is having a four-man pace attack – if a road is prepared at AB field, then there is every chance not having a spin bowler will come back to hurt the Tigers.

    But with Tom Rogers, Andrew Fekete, Sam Rainbird and former Australian quick Jackson Bird all being amongst the wickets during their last four games, the pressure is going to be on the Bulls from ball one.

    Tom Rogers

    (AAP Image/Richard Wainwright)

    Bird’s record speaks for itself and while he is the leader of the attack, Rogers and Fekete have stood up recenty. Fekete claimed ten wickets across the two innings against the Bushrangers, while the Canberra-born Rogers has taken 17 wickets at 16.4 in the last four rounds.

    Rogers had a wow of a Big Bash season leading into the post-Christmas rounds of the Shield, and his form has been a big part of the reason Tasmania have been able to climb into the final.

    While the bowling attack will be able to hold their own, Tasmania need to find a way to score enough runs. One man earmarked for a big future is Jake Doran, with the Fairfield-Liverpool junior moving to Tasmania and struggling during his initial stint.

    He has turned that run on its head though, posing a century and five half-centuries in his last seven matches. While he hasn’t managed to turn them into big scores, Doran has been a consistent force for the Tigers and will need to be again, batting around experience.

    Alex Doolan and George Bailey – both former Test batsmen – need to lead the charge for Tasmania. Playing away in a Shield final means aggression is neccessary at some point, and if the trio mentioned can build a solid platform, it should allow the likes of Matthew Wade and Simon Milenko to make plenty of runs down the order.

    While the synopsis on the Tasmanian team is a positive one, they are going to need to be perfect to beat a Queensland team who are re-invigorated with a former Australian combination at the top of the order.

    Even though the Bulls struggled in their first innings against the Blues in Round 10 of the Shield last week, they picked up a tough win and still bring very good form into the final.

    After being skittled in their first innings last week, first drop Marnus Labuschagne led the way with a big century as Queensland racked up 9 for 438 delcared in their second innings, trying to set up a win.

    With that sort of form and runs being scored, plus not having the pressure of trying to set up a result, Queensland are in an ideal position to grind out a big first innings total whether batting first or second.

    Joe Burns and Matt Renshaw have both previously shown their ability to spend long periods of time at the crease and if the Tigers’ attack can’t get rid of them early, things could go downhill very quickly.

    Both Burns and Renshaw are naturally defensive players who take time to get into their innings. A Shield final plays right into the pair’s hands, with neither forced to bat outside their comfort zone at any point.

    Matt Renshaw bats during a test match against India

    (AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade)

    While they won’t have to play out of their comfort zone, there is a little bit of pressure on the top three. Charlie Hemphrey is likely to win the No.4 spot ahead of Lachlan Pfeffer, but a career batting average of 31.79 across 21 first-class matches isn’t going to fill anyone with great confidence.

    He did score a century against the Warriors in Round 9, but if there’s a rot of wickets at the top, the Bulls won’t want to be relying on their middle order. Sam Heazlett, Jack Wildermuth and Jimmy Pierson are all in solid enough form and have been part of a team winning three and drawing three of their last six, but none have been standouts.

    That role has been reserved for Renshaw, who has made three centuries over the second half of the Shield season.

    Along with Renshaw, the bowling attack have been firing on all cylinders and working as a unit. Michael Neser has led the way for the most part, grabbing 22 wickets in the last five rounds.

    The rest have been shared around, although it’s unclear if Luke Feldman or Brendan Doggett will get the final spot – Doggett has taken nine wickets in three games since Christmas, while Feldman has also been in and out of the side, not pulling quite the same numbers.

    Queensland Bulls beat South Australia Adelaide Oval

    (AAP Image/Mark Brake)

    The real difference maker should Queensland be put under pressure will be Mitchell Swepson. Playing five days instead of four gives the pitch an extra day to deteriorate, and the leg-spinner, who has been included in previous Australian squads has picked up 15 wickets in the final five rounds of Shield action.

    If he can continue that, the Tasmanian batting line-up may well be in all sorts.

    Queensland won both matches between the two sides during the regular season and convincingly so. The first saw them win by seven wickets in Hobart, before the Tasmanian order crumbled twice during Round 6 at the Gabba, with the Bulls winning that one by 206 runs.

    Key game information: Sheffield Shield final

    Dates: Friday March 23 – Tuesday March 27
    First ball: 11am (AEDT) – 10am (local)
    Venue: Allan Border Field, Brisbane
    TV: None
    Online: Live, Cricket Australia website
    Betting: Bulls $1.57, Tigers $2.40
    Umpires: Gerard Abood and Sam Nogajski

    Likely XIs and squads

    Queensland Bulls
    1. Joe Burns
    2. Matthew Renshaw
    3. Marnus Labuschagne
    4. Charlie Hemphrey
    5. Sam Heazlett
    6. Jack Wildermuth
    7. Jimmy Pierson
    8. Michael Neser
    9. Mark Steketee
    10. Mitchell Swepson
    11. Brendan Doggett
    Rest of squad – Lachlan Pfeffer, Luke Feldman

    Tasmania Tigers
    1. Jordan Silk
    2. Alex Doolan
    3. Beau Webster
    4. Jake Doran
    5. George Bailey (c)
    6. Matthew Wade (wk)
    7. Simon Milenko
    8. Tom Rogers
    9. Sam Rainbird
    10. Jackson Bird
    11. Andrew Fekete
    Rest of squad – Hamish Kingston, Riley Meredith, Ben McDermott

    Hours of play

    Start (AEDT) Finish (AEDT) Start (local) Finish (local)
    First session 11:00 AM 1:00 PM 10:00 AM 12:00 PM
    Lunch 1:00 PM 1:40 PM 12:00 PM 12:40 PM
    Second session 1:40 PM 3:40 PM 12:40 PM 2:40 PM
    Tea 3:40 PM 4:00 PM 2:40 PM 3:00 PM
    Third session 4:00 PM 6:00 PM 3:00 PM 5:00 PM

    Prediction

    Home ground advantage in a Sheffield Shield final is so, so important. Queensland have finished the season with a bang and having Renshaw and Burns at the top of the order gives them a big advantage.

    The Tasmanian attack have been in great form and it set up the final spot with a win over Victoria in Hobart, but they will struggle to do so should the pitch be one prepared as expected.

    If it’s prepared with plenty of grass and Tasmania make a good start, they will be a chance. Otherwise, Queensland should get the job done.

    Queensland to win the title.

    Scott Pryde
    Scott Pryde

    One of the mainstays of The Roar, Scott Pryde has written over 2000 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 (51)

    • March 23rd 2018 @ 8:54am
      JohnB said | March 23rd 2018 @ 8:54am | ! Report

      Qld beat NSW by 36 runs in the last round of the Shield.

      Maybe the old joke about Welsh rugby applies to NSW – they’re never beaten, it’s just that sometimes the other team scores more points (runs).

      And what a disgrace that the Gabba (or the MCG or other premier cricket grounds) wouldn’t be available for the Shield final.

      • Roar Guru

        March 23rd 2018 @ 9:14am
        Scott Pryde said | March 23rd 2018 @ 9:14am | ! Report

        G’day John,

        Yep – typo fixed now.

        And agree. Shield season needs to finish earlier to avoid this happening. That our biggest game of the season can’t be on a premier ground is ridiculous.

        • Roar Guru

          March 23rd 2018 @ 9:54am
          Joey Johns said | March 23rd 2018 @ 9:54am | ! Report

          I’d prefer to watch a Sheild game at AB Field sitting on a grassy knoll than at the Gabba where you’re restricted to one section in the baking sun.

          Although I am biased: you’ll see me on the hill all weekend as it’s a five minute walk from home

          • Roar Guru

            March 23rd 2018 @ 10:06am
            Scott Pryde said | March 23rd 2018 @ 10:06am | ! Report

            Look, I hold that attitude for the footy as well – I’d take Kogarah over Homebush any day….

            The final being played at smaller grounds might be better for fans, but really, is it for the players?

            • Roar Guru

              March 23rd 2018 @ 2:38pm
              Joey Johns said | March 23rd 2018 @ 2:38pm | ! Report

              Is it better for the players? I’d probably say yes. Each team still plays at least 5 games a year at test venues.

              Considering our general ineptitude in any conditions that doesn’t resemble a bouncy road; I’d say the more cricket we move away from the Gabba the better.

        • March 23rd 2018 @ 9:58am
          JohnB said | March 23rd 2018 @ 9:58am | ! Report

          Everyone’s entitled to a “typo”.

          Personally I think the more logical thing would be to not schedule AFL games on those grounds until next week.

          • Roar Guru

            March 23rd 2018 @ 10:10am
            Scott Pryde said | March 23rd 2018 @ 10:10am | ! Report

            Yeah, but grounds aren’t going to go…”No, you can’t play AFL here (which gets bigger crowds and more profit) on the off chance that the state is going to host the Shield final – remember, when scheduling is done, it’s a one in six chance basically.

            • March 23rd 2018 @ 11:38am
              JohnB said | March 23rd 2018 @ 11:38am | ! Report

              Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth have no doubt sold out. I honestly don’t see why the Lions and Swans can’t play elsewhere in week 1.

              • March 23rd 2018 @ 2:36pm
                Timmuh said | March 23rd 2018 @ 2:36pm | ! Report

                The AFL try to have one team at home and one away for the four states with two teams.

                As it turns out Sydney are playing somewhere else, Perth. GWS are at “home” but in Canberra.
                Gold Coast are at “home” in Cairns, due to the Commonwealth Games; and the Lions play in Melbourne.

      • March 23rd 2018 @ 2:51pm
        DLKN said | March 23rd 2018 @ 2:51pm | ! Report

        Agreed. It’s the Brisbane Cricket Ground, after all. Not the Brisbane Australian Football Ground.

        Since the State Government took over the ground, money has spoken loudest every time.

        Like last year, when the Lions couldn’t have a home AFLW final because of a pop concert.

        It’s inevitable that drop-in wickets will be next, and the ground’s unique wicket character destroyed, once the AFL flexes its muscle in the post-Kevin Mitchell era.

    • Roar Guru

      March 23rd 2018 @ 9:06am
      Michael Keeffe said | March 23rd 2018 @ 9:06am | ! Report

      Scott – QLD beat NSW by 36 runs in the last round.

      Charlie Hemphrey has made back to back centuries – made one in the last round against NSW as well, I think you might have missed that game.

      Also Feldman and Doggett will both play. Feldman has 33 wickets at 20 from 8 games so hardly in and out of the side. He was rested for the last round to be fresh for the final with QLD already guaranteed a spot before the last round. Steketee has only 11 wickets at 34 from 5 games and will surely be the bowling who carries the drinks with the 3 quicks to be Feldman, Neser and Doggett.

      • Roar Guru

        March 23rd 2018 @ 9:17am
        Scott Pryde said | March 23rd 2018 @ 9:17am | ! Report

        Typo re result Michael,

        And no I saw a large portion of the NSW v QLD game.. at the ground for some of it. While I acknowledge I didn’t mention Hemphrey’s century against the Blues, his track record doesn’t suggest he will be able to do it again, even if he is in strong form. 2 centuries mean be is averaging 31. Not great news really.

        Feldman has played three of the last five rounds. Are we certain he will play? Maybe I’ve read more into it than I should have…

        • Roar Rookie

          March 23rd 2018 @ 9:28am
          Matthew Pearce said | March 23rd 2018 @ 9:28am | ! Report

          Feldman’s our second best bowler. He’s playing.

          • Roar Guru

            March 23rd 2018 @ 9:30am
            Scott Pryde said | March 23rd 2018 @ 9:30am | ! Report

            Fair enough Matthew. It’s going to be a good five days either way.

            • Roar Rookie

              March 23rd 2018 @ 9:33am
              Matthew Pearce said | March 23rd 2018 @ 9:33am | ! Report

              Sure will be. Not to pile it on too much, but Jonus Peirson? Think you mean Jimmy. Easy mistake to make, Bulls and Broncs are similar đŸ˜›

              • Roar Guru

                March 23rd 2018 @ 9:37am
                Scott Pryde said | March 23rd 2018 @ 9:37am | ! Report

                I’m certain I wrote Jimmy last night…

          • Roar Guru

            March 23rd 2018 @ 9:39am
            JamesH said | March 23rd 2018 @ 9:39am | ! Report

            Yeah I was a bit surprised to see Feldman’s place questioned. On top of his great stats this season, his two best matches have been against Tassie. Come to think of it, I’d be pretty happy if he was omitted for Steketee!

            As an aside, Feldman has had to be granted leave from his job as a cop to play some matches this season so maybe that had a bit to do with resting him last round – returning a bit of goodwill to the local police force!

            • Roar Guru

              March 23rd 2018 @ 10:09am
              Scott Pryde said | March 23rd 2018 @ 10:09am | ! Report

              Yeah, look, I’ve probably read too much into it re Feldman. I didn’t realise that about him being a cop though!

              • Roar Rookie

                March 23rd 2018 @ 10:27am
                Matthew Pearce said | March 23rd 2018 @ 10:27am | ! Report

                Felds is a top bloke.

                Just a shame he supports the Cowboys…

    • Roar Guru

      March 23rd 2018 @ 9:41am
      Ryan H said | March 23rd 2018 @ 9:41am | ! Report

      Two vastly inexperienced and underrated attacks going head to head, two teams that not many would’ve tipped to make it to here.
      Really tough one to call for mine, but I think we’ll see a result for sure.

      • Roar Guru

        March 23rd 2018 @ 10:07am
        Scott Pryde said | March 23rd 2018 @ 10:07am | ! Report

        Yeah, I think we will get a result. The only way we won’t see one is if Burns and Renshaw bat the better part of a day at some point during the match or we get rain (which apparently is forecasted today and Tuesday?)

    • March 23rd 2018 @ 9:56am
      JohnB said | March 23rd 2018 @ 9:56am | ! Report

      More experienced than you think. Bird’s a test player. Fekete got picked for the aborted tour to Bangladesh a few years back. Rainbird’s been around a while. Feldman’s an old stager. Neser and Wildermuth have played about 3 seasons worth of games, Swepson 2.5, Steketee 2. Doggett and Rogers are in their first seasons certainly, but they’re the only inexperienced ones.

      • Roar Guru

        March 23rd 2018 @ 10:08am
        Scott Pryde said | March 23rd 2018 @ 10:08am | ! Report

        Agree – And Rogers might be inexperienced, but I reckon he has a good head on his shoulders. Handled the pressure well in the Big Bash and has been good all season for Tassie.

    • Roar Guru

      March 23rd 2018 @ 10:38am
      Scott Pryde said | March 23rd 2018 @ 10:38am | ! Report

      Wet outfield has delayed the toss in Brisbane which is a bit of a bugger. At least, being Day 1, even if we lose play, we can still make up 2 hours across the other four days.

      • Roar Guru

        March 23rd 2018 @ 11:44am
        Rellum said | March 23rd 2018 @ 11:44am | ! Report

        How wet is this outfield? Stream hasn’t started yet and I am working so no Final for me yet.

    • Roar Guru

      March 23rd 2018 @ 11:12am
      Rellum said | March 23rd 2018 @ 11:12am | ! Report

      QLD were written off at the start of the season, even by me. At various times during the season they have been under the pump in a game. In previous seasons we would crumble with huge collapses. That is the real difference under Coach Wade, WE get our selves back into games and don’t collapse like we have for the last 3-4 years.

      People are talking about our batsmen against their bowlers as the key, but If Nesser, Feildman and Doggertt get the ball to swing we are in with a great shot to win it.

      • Roar Guru

        March 23rd 2018 @ 11:45am
        Michael Keeffe said | March 23rd 2018 @ 11:45am | ! Report

        Yeah QLD have had a much tougher look to them this year. Far fewer collapses and for the most part if they’ve had a bad patch in a game they fight back rather than fold like previously. In the end they only lost one game outright this whole summer against NSW back before the Ashes started. They’ve won 6 and drawn 3 games.

        Interestingly for Tasmania two of their three losses this summer have come against QLD and in those four innings they’ve failed to pass 200 on three occasions and when they did it was only to scrape to 219. Having said that it was a while ago and since that second loss to QLD, Tassie have made 4 scores of 350+ so they’ve obviously improved their batting.

        • Roar Guru

          March 23rd 2018 @ 12:22pm
          Rellum said | March 23rd 2018 @ 12:22pm | ! Report

          This is why winning the Shield is such an important part of player development. These QLD players have grown this season because they have put winning as such a high priority, something that has not been really the case for the State comp as a whole over the last 10 years. If you learn how to win in the Shield, you learn how to win for Australia. We just need more media and fan pressure to win the Shield so they learn to deal with that as well, plus show the comp is an important comp for cricket people.

          I bet you Wade Seccombe has instilled a pride in playing for QLD.

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