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Opinion

Celebrating the Sheffield Shield: Best ever SA team

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Roar Guru
28th October, 2019
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South Australia were a founding member of the competition, but have been a definite third behind NSW and Victoria with 13 titles.

They have had blocks of success early last century, in the 1930s and again in the late 1960s to early 1970s, but have had limited success over the past 20 years.

Set out below is the state’s greatest ever Shield XI, plus a Second and Third XI. 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.

Check out previous entries in the series here.

Openers

Jack Badcock
1934-1940. 30 matches. 2,473 at 58.88. SA won two titles during his career.

Jack Badcock has the highest Shield average for South Australia outside of Don Bradman. His top score of 325 is the fourth highest for the state and he scored two other double centuries.

Greg Blewett
1991-2006. 117 matches. 9,682 runs at 46.1. 90 wickets at 42.26. SA won one title during his career.

Blewett stands at tenth in the list of most career Shield runs. He topped Shield season runs in both 2000/01 and 2002/03. He scored three double centuries for South Australia.

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Middle order

Ian Chappell
1962-1980. 89 matches. 7,665 runs at 53.22. SA won four titles during his career.

Chappell was one of South Australia’s best captains, leading the state 48 times. He topped the Shield season runs in South Australia’s 1975/76 title win and again five years later in 1979/80. Chappell also took 113 catches and one stumping.

Darren Lehmann
1987-2007. 119 matches. 11,622 runs at 56.97. SA won one title during his career.

Darren Lehmann has scored more Sheffield Shield runs than any other player in history. He also scored the most centuries and the most scores over 50 in history.

Over his 147-game career – the third most appearances in Shield history – Lehmann topped the South Australian season runs in the state’s 1995/96 title win. He also topped the season Shield runs in 2005/06. His top score was 301 not out and he scored seven career double centuries. Lehmann also captained the state 55 times.

Darren Lehmann

(Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

Clem Hill
1894-1923. 68 matches. 6,270 runs at 52.25. SA won three titles during his career.

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Clem Hill was South Australia’s first great player. His 365 not out is the third highest score in Sheffield Shield history and is still the highest score for South Australia more than a century later. Hill scored three double centuries and captained the state 35 times.

Hill topped the Shield season runs in 1897/98, 1898/99, 1900/01 and 1901/02. He later topped the Shield season runs in South Australia’s 1909/10 title win.

Garfield Sobers
1961-1964. 23 matches to just qualify. 2,247 runs at 57.61 and 128 wickets at 24.26. SA won one title during his career.

Sir Garfield Sobers was a wildly successful import for South Australia. In only 23 matches, he had a high score of 251, and in 1963/64, Sobers topped both the Shield season runs and wickets and scored a century and took nine wickets in the state’s must-win final match to win the title.

Wicketkeeper

Graeme Manou
1999-2011. 96 matches. 3,827 runs at 25.68. 308 catches and 21 stumpings. 25 games as captain.

Manou took the seventh most career dismissals in Shield history.

Bowlers

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With Sobers bowling seam up or spin, South Australia has flexibility and will play one specialist spinner.

Clarrie Grimmett
1924-1940. 78 matches. 504 wickets at 25.55 average and 56.1 strike rate. SA won three titles during his career.

The remarkable Clarrie Grimmett holds the record for most career Shield wickets and has done so for around 80 years. His 16 for 289 is the second best match figures. Grimmett took 48 career five-wicket hauls and the next best in history is only 26. Grimmett also has the most career ten-wicket hauls in a match.

Grimmett topped the South Australia season wickets in their 1926/27 title win. He topped the Shield season wickets six times between 1924/25 and 1938/39. In that last season, South Australia won the Shield title.

Geoff Noblet
1946-1953. 38 matches. 190 wickets at 17.87 average and 58.7 strike rate. SA won one title during his career.

Geoff Noblet was one player I hadn’t heard of but he has the second best career average in Shield history (minimum 20 games). Noblet topped the Shield season wickets three times, in 1947/48, 1951/52 and 1952/53, with South Australia winning the Shield title in the last of those seasons.

Chadd Sayers
2011-present. 57 matches. 236 wickets at 24.61 average and 55.8 strike rate. (Current to 21 October 2019)

Chadd Sayers has been a consistent wicket-taking machine in recent years. In 2012/13 he topped the Shield season wickets. He did this again in 2016/17 and took seven wickets in the first innings of the drawn final against Victoria. His 62 series wickets that year were the third most in history.

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Chadd Sayers

(Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Shaun Tait
2002-2008. 182 wickets at 26.08 average and 44.1 strike rate.

With extreme speed that limited his career length, Shaun Tait has the fourth best career strike rate in Shield history (minimum 20 matches). Tait topped the Shield season wickets in 2004/05, his 65 being the second most series wickets in Shield history.

Second XI
1. Michael Klinger. 2008-2014. 56 matches. 4,168 runs at 43.41. 255 high score. Four double centuries. Topped Shield season runs with 1,203 in 2008/09, the ninth most series runs in history.

2. Andrew Hilditch. 1982-1992. 91 matches. 6,504 runs at 43.36. One title. 230 high score. For NSW, topped Shield runs in 1977/78.

3. Victor Richardson. 1919-1937. 77 matches. 6,027 runs at 43.35. One title. 203 high score. 99 catches. 63 matches as captain, ninth most in history. Topped Shield season runs in 1931/32.

4. Les Favell. 1951-1970. 121 matches. 8,269 runs at 38.29. Three titles. 80 matches as captain, the most in Shield history. Topped SA season runs in 1952/53 title win. Topped Shield average runs in 1966/67.

5. David Hookes. 1975-1992. 120 matches. 9,364 runs at 47.77. Two titles. 306 not out high score. Two double centuries. 127 catches. 78 matches as captain, second most in Shield history. Topped Shield season runs in 1976/77 and a decade later in 1987/88. Thirteenth most career Shield runs.

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6. George Giffen. 1892-1903. 38 matches. 2,319 runs at 36.23. 192 wickets at 29.56 average and 60.5 strike rate. One title. 205 high score. Topped both Shield season runs and wickets in 1892/93, the first Sheffield Shield season. Topped season runs in 1893/94 for first SA title win. That year, Giffen scored the first ever Sheffield Shield double century. He topped the Shield season wickets 1894/95. His 16 for 186 are the best ever Shield match figures, and he also has the fifth best. Has the nine most career five-wicket hauls and the third most career ten-wicket hauls in a match.

7. Barry Jarman. 1955-1969. 77 matches. 2,984 runs at 24.86. 192 catches and 58 stumpings. Two titles. Seventeenth most career Sheffield Shield dismissals.

8. Ashley Mallett. 1967-1981. 77 matches. 344 wickets at 23.75 average and 60.9 strike rate. Three titles. Topped SA season wickets in their 1968/69 title win. Topped Shield season wickets 1971/72, 1972/73, 1975/76 (when SA won the Shield title) and 1979/80. Tenth most career Shield wickets and sixth most career five-wicket hauls.

9. Joe Mennie. 2011-present. 64 matches. 237 wickets at 26.56 average and 56.8 strike rate. Topped Shield season wickets in 2015/16. (Current to 21 October 2019)

10. Jason Gillespie. 1995-2008. 202 wickets at 25.34 average and 56.3 strike rate. One title. In 1995/96, topped Shield season wickets and took seven wickets in the Shield final draw to win the title against WA.

Jason Gillespie looks on.

(Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)

11. Rodney Hogg. 1976-1983. 144 wickets at 22.09 average and 46.5 strike rate. Two titles.

Third XI
1. Paul Nobes. 1988-1996. 63 matches. 4,608 runs at 41.89. One title. In 1994/95, scored century in Shield final loss to Queensland. In 1995/96, scored century in Shield final draw to win title against WA.

2. Arthur Richardson. 1919-1927 32 matches. 2,354 runs at 39.23. 74 wickets at 48.97. One title. 232 high score. Topped SA season runs in 1926/27, including scoring 189 in final match to win title.

3. Callum Ferguson. 2004-present. 114 matches. 7,690 runs at 38.64. 213 high score. (Current to 21 October 2019)

4. James Brayshaw. 1991-1996. 52 matches. 3,969 at 46.69. One title. In 1995/96, scored two half centuries in Shield final draw to win title over WA.

5. Jamie Siddons. 1991-2000. 82 matches. 5,940 runs at 42.42. One title. 113 catches. 69 matches as captain, sixth most in history. For Victoria in 1990/91, topped Victoria’s season runs and scored an unbeaten second-innings century to win Shield final. For SA, he topped Shield season runs in 1992/93. Third most career Shield runs. Seventh most career hundreds. Fifth most career scores over 50. 189 career catches, the most in Shield history. In 1990/91 he took 23 season catches, the most in a series.

6. Peter Sleep. 1977-1993. 127 matches. 6,106 runs at 35.09. 254 wickets at 38.90 (fourth most for SA). One title. In 1988/89, scored a century in the Shield final away draw to lose title.

7. Tim Nielsen. 1990-1999. 92 matches. 3,531 runs at 26.15. 257 catches and 29 stumpings. One title. Eleventh most career Sheffield Shield dismissals.

8. Terry Jenner. 1967-1976. 65 matches. 1,816 runs at 20.17. 207 wickets at 30.49. Three titles. Topped SA season wickets in 1970/71 title win.

9. Daniel Worrall. 2012-present. 37 matches. 149 wickets at 28.08 average and 53.4 strike rate. In 2015/16, took six wickets in the first innings of SA’s Shield final home loss to Victoria. (Current to 21 October 2019)

10. Eric Freeman. 1965-1974. 38 matches. 128 wickets at 26.77 average and 58.6 strike rate. Two titles. In 1970/71, took 13 wickets in the must-win final game for SA to win the Shield title.

11. Ernie Jones. 1892-1903. 39 matches. 208 wickets at 26.51 average and 58.3 strike rate. One title. Topped SA season wickets in 1893/94 when they won their first title. Topped Shield season wickets in 1897/98. Has the sixth most career five-wicket hauls in Shield history.

Other notables and one-offs
Ike Travers. In an otherwise unremarkable career between 1896-1906, Travers took 9-30 against Victoria in 1900, the fourth best innings figures in Shield history.

Jack Crawford. 1909-1914. Only 17 games. 1,180 runs at 39.33. 101 wickets at 23.03 average and 45.4 strike rate. Topped SA season wickets in 1909/10 title win. In 1912/13 scored 163 in the first innings, then took eight wickets in the first innings in the must-win final game for SA to win the title. Topped Shield season wickets in 1913/14.

Ernie Mayne. Topped Shield run scorers in 1912/13 title win and scored century in the second innings of must-win final match.

Karl Schneider. 1926-1928 Only 11 matches. 1,008 runs at 53.50. Scored a century in the final match of 1926/27 for SA to win title.

Frank Ward. Topped Shield season wickets in their 1935/36 title win.

Phil Ridings. 1938-1957. 76 matches. 4,501 at 37.82. Two titles. 70 matches as captain, seventh most in history. Topped Shield average runs in 1947/48 and 1951/52.

Neil Hawke. Seventh most career ten-wicket hauls in a match in Shield history.

Barry Richards (South Africa). Only eight matches in 1970/71. Scored 1,101 runs at 100.09 as South Australia won the Shield title. His 356 is the sixth highest Shield score. Richards has the second highest Shield career average in history.

Travis Head. 2012-present. 69 matches. 4,455 runs at 35.92. Has captained South Australia 42 times. In 2016/17, scored a second-innings century in Shield final draw to lose against Victoria. (Current to 21 October 2019)

Alex Carey. 2013-present. A big-match player, Carey scored a half century in SA’s 2015/16 Shield final loss and a half century and 45 in their 2016/17 Shield final draw to lose, both against Victoria. In the 2016/17 season, Carey had 59 dismissals, the most in Shield history.

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