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Celebrating the Sheffield Shield: Best ever NSW team

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Roar Guru
23rd October, 2019
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12547 Reads

NSW have been the most successful Shield team by some distance with 46 titles.

They have had many eras of sustained success and their depth is truly amazing. I could have picked six or more competitive teams and narrowing down a top 11 took some doing.

Set out below is the state’s greatest ever Shield XI, plus a second and third side. See my previous article for the rules of selection.

Remember that selection is solely based on a player’s career performance in the Sheffield Shield. So, there are numerous surprises – no Waughs for a start and no room for Keith Miller.

Openers

Warren Bardsley
1906-1926, 47 matches, 4,171 runs at 60.44. NSW won nine titles during his career.

Bardsley was, along with Victor Trumper and Clem Hill, one of the premier batsmen in the country during the pre-war golden era of Australian cricket. Bardsley was the highest run-scorer in the competition in the 1910-11 and 1920-21 seasons, with NSW winning the title on both occasions.

He also scored 192 in the state’s must-win game to claim the 1908-09 title.

Alan Kippax
1919-35, 61 matches, 6,096 runs at 70.88. NSW won seven titles during his career.

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Alan Kippax was a colossus for NSW in the pre-Bradman era and is one of only four players to have a career Shield average over 70, which is remarkable for a career of more than 60 matches across 16 years.

Kippax had a high score of 315 not out made in 1927 and also captained the state 34 times.

In the 1922-23 season Kippax was the highest run-scorer for NSW and scored a century in their must-win final game to clinch the title. He also was the highest run-scorer for the competition in 1925-26.

Middle order

Don Bradman
1927-1934, 31 matches, 4,633 runs at 107.74. NSW won three titles during his career.

Was there ever any doubt? Actually there was, because Bradman also played 31 matches for South Australia – the exact same number – and was there for a similar period of time. In the end, Bradman scored marginally more runs in the sky blue and also is the Boy from Bowral, so here he is.

Bradman holds numerous Shield records, including:
– The highest ever Sheffield Shield average
– The first, fifth and ninth-highest scores in Shield history, the highest being 452 not out
– Third-most Shield hundreds
– Seventeenth-most career Shield runs
– Highest run-scorer in a Shield season eight times

And in 1928-29, Bradman scored a second-innings 175 in the final game of the season to help NSW win the title.

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Australia's best-ever Don Bradman

(Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)

Simon Katich
2002-2012, 58 matches, 5,309 runs at 61.73, 35 wickets at 26.48 average and 49.6 strike rate. NSW won three titles during his career.

Simon Katich is one of the Shield’s greatest modern-day players. In 2008, he set the current record for most runs in a season with 1,506. This was no flash in the pan as these following statistics show.

Before joining NSW, in 1998-99, Katich topped Western Australia’s run-scoring charts and scored a century in their away Shield final win over Queensland.

On joining NSW in 2002-03, Katich scored 82 and 36 and took three wickets in an away Shield final win over the Bulls.

In 2007-08, he scored 306, and was the highest run-scorer in the competition and scored half-centuries in each innings of NSW’s Shield final win over Victoria.

Then in 2010-11, Katich scored 96 in NSW’s Shield final loss to Tasmania.

Katich captained NSW 38 times and scored the 19th-most career runs in Sheffield Shield history.

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Michael Bevan
1990-2004, 93 matches, 8,174 runs at 61.92. NSW won four titles during his career.

Michael Bevan holds the following career records:
– Fourth-most career Shield runs
– Tenth highest career batting average
– Second-most career hundreds
– Third-most career scores of 50 and over

Bevan scored 1,240 runs in 1993/94, which was NSW’s highest season aggregate until it was broken by Simon Katich and remains the sixth-highest in Shield history. That year, Bevan was the highest run scorer in the competition and scored a century in NSW’s Shield final win over Tasmania.

Later on Bevan moved to Tasmania and again was the highest run scorer in the competition in 2004-05. His 1,464 runs that season surpassed his previous best and remains the second-most series runs in history.

Monty Noble
1895-1909, 51 matches, 4,896 runs at 68.00, 159 wickets at 22.55 average and 55.8 strike rate. NSW won ten titles during his career.

Monty Noble was arguably the greatest all-round Australian cricketer of his age. A great batsman and a top-class medium-pace bowler, Noble was also a winner.

In 1896/97, Noble topped the NSW run scoring for the season as they took out the title.

In 1899/1900, Noble had one of the all-time great seasons. He was both the highest run scorer and highest wicket taker in the competition for the season as NSW won the title. Noble scored 155 and took six wickets in the second innings of the winner-takes-all final match versus Victoria to clinch the title.

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Noble was again the highest run scorer in the competition in 1904-05, when NSW took the title, and 1907-08.

To highlight his all-round skills, Noble also took the most season wickets for NSW in their 1906-07 title win.

Noble topped NSW’s run scoring in their 1908-09 title win, including 213 in their must-win final game.

Noble has the fifth-highest career batting average in Sheffield Shield history.

Wicketkeeper

Brad Haddin
1999-2014, 94 matches, 5,712 runs at 42, 284 catches and 24 stumpings. NSW won four titles during his career.

Brad Haddin was a tough competitor over a long period for NSW. He has the tenth-most dismissals in Sheffield Shield history.

Haddin’s big match temperament could be seen in 2004-05, when in a low-scoring Shield final playing away against Queensland, he top scored in both innings with 68 not out and 41 in NSW’s one-wicket win.

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In 2007-08 Haddin also scored a half century in NSW’s Shield final win over Victoria.

Bowlers

With Monty Noble providing an excellent third medium-pace option, and given the historical characteristics of the SCG, NSW fields two front-line spinners.

Richie Benaud
1948-1964, 73 matches, 3,749 runs at 39.05, 266 wickets at 26.96 average and 68.0 strike rate, 92 catches. NSW won 12 titles during his career.

The great leg-spinning all-rounder in 1953/54 topped NSW’s run scoring and wickets, and took nine wickets in their must-win final match to win the title. In the following years, Benaud topped NSW’s wicket-taking tallies in each of 1956/57, 1958/59 and 1961/62 to win titles for his state.

Richie-Benaud

(AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

Alan Davidson
1949-1963, 62 matches, 2,360 runs at 32.32, 246 wickets at 21.11 average and 54.5 strike rate. NSW won 11 titles during his career.

The great left-arm pace bowling all-rounder has the fifth best career average in Shield history (20 matches minimum). In 1954/55, Davidson took nine wickets in a must-win match against Victoria to win the title for NSW.

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Geoff Lawson
1978-1992, 103 matches, 367 wickets at 23.63 average and 57.0 strike rate. NSW won four titles during his career.

This was desperately tight but Lawson wins due to his longevity. Lawson took the seventh-most career wickets in Shield history. In addition to his bowling, Lawson captained his state 36 times.

In 1982/83 he took seven wickets in NSW’s away Shield final win against WA.

Bill O’Reilly
1927-1940, 33 matches, 203 wickets at 17.1 average and 52.9 strike rate. NSW won five titles during his career.

NSW field a second leg-spinner in Bill ‘Tiger’ O’Reilly, arguably NSW’s greatest ever bowler of any type. O’Reilly holds numerous records, including:
– The best career bowling average in Sheffield Shield history (20 matches minimum)
– Third-most career ten wickets in a match
– Ninth-most career five wickets in an innings
– Best match figures of 14 for 45, the seventh best in Shield history
– Best innings figures of nine for 41, the seventh best in Shield history.

O’Reilly twice topped the Shield season wickets in NSW title wins, in 1937/38 and 1939/40. In the latter year, he took eight wickets in the final must-win match against Victoria for NSW to win the title.

O’Reilly also took the most season wickets for NSW in 1931/32 and 1932/33 in their title wins.

To generate some discussion and showcase the depth of the Shield competition, here are my second and third XIs.

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Second XI

1. Arthur Morris: 1946-1955, 37 matches, 3,517 runs at 63.94, three titles. Seventh highest career batting average. Topped Shield season runs in their 1948/49 title win. Topped NSW season runs in their 1951/52 title win.

2. Bob Simpson: 1953-1978, 57 matches, 4,399 runs at 52.36, four titles. Scored 359, the fourth highest Shield score in history. Topped NSW season runs in their 1961/62 title win.

3. Stan McCabe: 1928-1940, 37 matches, 3,031 runs at 55.10, five titles. In the 1931/32 Shield title win he scored 438 runs in three innings for only once out to top NSW’s season runs. In 1939/40, he topped NSW’s season runs and scored a second-innings century in a must-win match against Victoria to win the title.

4. Norm O’Neill: 1955-1967, 61 matches. 4,749 runs at 50.52. 41 wickets at 34.82, nine titles. Topped Shield season runs and NSW season wickets in their 1957/58 title win.

5. Mark Waugh: 1985-2004, 93 matches, 7,232 runs at 51.65, 51 wickets at 41.6, six titles. Topped Shield season runs 1989/90. In 1991/92, scored 163 in NSW’s Shield final loss to WA.

6. Keith Miller: 1947-1956, 42 matches, 2,838 runs at 55.64, 99 wickets at 26.32 average, six titles. In 1954/55, he took five second-innings wickets in a must-win match against Victoria to win the title. Also for Victoria in 1946/47 Miller topped the Shield season runs to win them the title.

7. Peter Nevill: 2009-present, 83 matches, 4,326 runs at 40.81, 257 catches and 20 stumpings, one title. Thirteenth-most career Shield dismissals (as at 21 October 2019).

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Australia's wicketkeeper Peter Nevill arrives for training

(AFP PHOTO/PAUL ELLIS)

8. Greg Matthews: 1982-1997, 116 matches, 5,567 runs at 37.11, 363 wickets at 28.97 average, six titles. Eighth-most career Shield wickets. Sixth-most career five-wicket hauls in an innings. Seventh-most career ten-wicket hauls in a match. In 1989/90, he topped NSW’s season wickets and took eight wickets in Shield final win. Topped Shield season wickets in 1991/92. In 1992/93, he top scored with 78 and took three first-innings wickets in the Shield final win over Queensland.

9. Ray Lindwall: 1946-1954, 34 matches, 139 wickets at 20.89 average and 51 strike rate, four titles.

10. Albert Cotter: 1902-1919, 29 matches, 773 runs at 20.89, 131 wickets at 23.54 average and 43.2 strike rate, ten titles. Best Shield career strike rate in history (20 matches minimum). Topped NSW’s season wickets in 1904-05 and 1908-09 title wins and topped Shield season wickets in their 1911-12 title win. In 1911-12 took five wickets in the second innings of the must-win final game versus Victoria.

11. Stuart MacGill: 1996-2008, 86 matches, 328 wickets at 34.26 average and 58.5 strike rate, three titles. Twelfth-most career wickets. In 2002-03, he topped Shield season wickets and took five for 16 in the Shield final first innings and eight wickets in the match in NSW’s away win over Queensland. Topped NSW season wickets in their 2004-05 title win – his 54 wickets that seasons was the tenth-most in Shield history.

Third XI

1. Victor Trumper: 1895-1914, 46 matches, 3,627 runs at 48.36, 13 titles.

2. Phillip Hughes: 2007-2012, 37 matches, 3,288 runs at 53.03, one title. In 2008-09, he scored a century in NSW’s Shield final win over Victoria. In 2010-11 he scored a century and 94 in their Shield final loss to Tasmania.

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3. Reg Duff: 1898-1907, 26 matches, 2,149 runs at 49.97, seven titles. Topped Shield season runs in 1902-03 and 1903-04 in NSW title wins.

4. Steve Smith: 2008-present, 40 matches, 3,288 runs at 50.58, two titles. In 2013/14, he scored a first-innings half century and a second-innings century in the Shield final draw that secured the title against WA.

Steve Smith

(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

5. Steve Waugh: 1984-2004, 85 matches, 6,609 runs at 49.69, 85 wickets at 30.78, six titles. In 1991/92, he scored 113 and 68 in NSW’s Shield final loss to WA. In 2002-03, he scored 56 in the second innings of the away Shield final win over Queensland.

6. Doug Walters: 1962-1981, 91 matches, 5,602 runs at 39.17, three titles. In 1964/65, he topped NSW’s season wickets in a Shield title win and scored a half century, took seven wickets and remained not out in the second innings chase of the must-win final match to clinch the title. Also topped the Shield season runs in 1972/73.

7. Phil Emery: 1988-1999, 109 matches, 3,081 runs at 25.67, 298 catches and 41 stumpings, three titles. Sixth-most career Shield dismissals.

8. Stephen O’Keefe: 2005-present, 67 matches, 1,886 runs at 25.14, 210 wickets at 25.26, three titles. In 2013/14 he topped the Shield season wickets in a title win.

9. Trent Copeland: 2010-present, 73 matches, 1,534 runs at 17.83, 288 wickets at 25.81 average and 60.7 strike rate, one title. In 2010-11 he topped the Shield season wickets. In 2018-19 he took eight wickets in a Shield final loss to Victoria.

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10. Alan Walker: 1948-1953, 23 matches, 93 wickets at 21.17 average and 57.1 strike rate, three titles. Sixth best career average (20 matches minimum). Topped Shield season wickets in 1948/49 title win. Topped NSW season wickets in 1951/52 title win.

11. Johnny Martin: 1956-1968, 70 matches, 2,497 runs at 27.74, 263 wickets at 30.22, nine titles. Topped Shield season wickets in 1959/60 title win. Topped NSW season wickets in 1960/61 and 1965/66 title wins.

Other notables and one-offs

Tom McKibbon played between 1895-1899, only 18 matches, 137 wickets at 20.83 average and 41.7 strike rate. Five career ten-fors in only 18 matches (the fifth-most in Shield history). Top season wicket taker in both 1895/96 and 1896/97 when NSW won their first two titles. McKibbon’s best of 15 for 125 is the fourth best match figures in Shield history, and he also has the 11th best.

Ray Minnett had one great season in 1911-12. He topped NSW’s season runs and scored the only century in their must-win final match versus Victoria. Averaged 199 for the season.

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Archie Jackson’s figures read 1926-30, 23 matches, 1,858 runs at 54.64, two titles. A career and life cut short.

Syd Barnes, in 1939/40, hit a second-innings century in NSW’s final must-win match against Victoria to win the title.

Ronald Briggs represented NSW from 1952-1955, in only 13 matches. In 1953/54, Briggs scored 136 in the state’s final must-win match to win the title. In 1954/55 he topped the NSW season runs in their title win.

Pat Crawford played only 12 matches due to injury. Took 61 wickets at 18.09. Topped Shield season wickets in 1954/55 and 1955/56 to win titles for NSW.

Trevor Chappell took 51 wickets at 21.05, the eighth best career bowling average in Shield history. In 1982/83, Chappell took seven wickets in an away Shield final to defeat WA.

Imran Khan made a guest appearance in 1984/85. He played only six games, taking 25 wickets at 19.52. He took nine wickets in NSW’s one-wicket Shield final win over Queensland.

Dirk Wellham skippered 40 matches, the most for NSW. In 1982/83, he topped NSW’s runs and scored a half century in an away Shield final win against WA. In 1985/86, he scored an unbeaten half century in the Shield final to draw the game eight wickets down and win the title. He gets a gig in the Tasmanian thirds later on, too.

Peter Clifford wore the blue cap between 1984-1986, 23 matches, 1,682 runs at 52.56. In 1984/85, he topped Shield season runs and scored an unbeaten second-innings 83 in NSW’s one-wicket Shield final win against Queensland.

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Mike Whitney claimed 251 career wickets. He topped NSW’s season wickets in their 1982/83 title win. In 1985/96, Whitney took six wickets in the first innings of NSW’s Shield final win. In 1991/92, he took seven wickets in the second innings of NSW’s Shield final loss to WA.

Mark Taylor scored over 6,000 career runs and in 1989/90 scored a century in each innings of NSW’s Shield final win.

Wayne Holdsworth, in 1992/93, topped the Shield season wickets and took seven wickets in the second innings and nine in the match as NSW defeated Queensland in the Shield final.

Michael Slater, in 2002-03, topped NSW’s season runs and scored a ton in their Shield final away win over Queensland.

Nathan Bracken, in 2004-05, took six wickets in the first innings and eight in the match of NSW’s one-wicket away Shield final win over Queensland, plus scored 11 not out in the last-wicket partnership to win.

Brett Lee, in 2007-08, scored 97 and took five wickets in a Shield final win over Victoria.