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Opinion

Celebrating the Sheffield Shield: Best ever Tasmania team

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Roar Guru
30th October, 2019
51

Tasmania have only been in the competition since 1977/78, so have the smallest pool of players to choose from for this exercise.

Three titles between 2006/07 and 2012/13 have shown the Apple Isle can match it with the best of teams.

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

Jamie Cox
1987-2005. 161 matches. 10,821 runs at 38.92. 38 matches as captain.

Jamie Cox is Tasmania’s longest serving player and holds the state records for most career runs scored and most centuries.

He has played more Sheffield Shield matches than any other player and is second on the career run-scoring list. He also has the eighth most centuries and seventh most scores of 50 or more in Shield history.

Cox topped the Shield season runs in 1996/97. In the following season, 1997/98, he scored 115 in Tasmania’s Shield final loss to WA.

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Michael Di Venuto
1992-2008. 140 matches. 9,974 runs at 41.73. Tasmania won one title during his career.

Tasmania’s other long-serving opener, Di Venuto topped Tasmania’s season runs in their first ever title-winning year in 2006/07. Earlier Di Venuto had scored a century in the state’s Shield final loss to WA in 1997/98.

Di Venuto played the seventh most career matches in Shield history, for the eighth most career Shield runs, second most career scores of 50 or more and the seventh most career catches (151).

Middle order

David Boon
1978-1999. 119 matches. 8,029 runs at 40.96.

David Boon was the first star of Tasmanian cricket. With over 8,000 runs and 58 matches as captain (the tenth most in Shield history), Boon was the team’s go-to batsman for nearly two decades.

Ricky Ponting
1992-2013. 65 matches. 6,377 runs at 63.13. Three titles during his career.

The great Ricky Ponting made the cut courtesy of topping the Shield season runs in Tasmania’s 2012/13 title win. Ponting has the ninth highest career Shield average in history and the highest since 1971.

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Ricky Ponting of Australia works the ball to leg

(James Knowler/Getty Images)

George Bailey
2004-present. 124 matches. 7,978 runs at 38.35. Two titles. (Current to 21 October 2019)

Seventy-seven matches as captain, third most in Shield history, plus 103 catches.

Shane Watson
2001-2004. 26 matches. 1,802 runs at 42.90 50 wickets at 27.98 average and 45.0 strike rate.

If only they had kept him. An underrated bowler, Watson has the seventh best career strike rate in Shield history (minimum 20 matches). He also has the sixth best batting average in Tasmanian Shield history.

For Queensland in 2005/06, Watson scored a double century in that state’s Shield final win over Victoria.

Wicketkeeper

Roger Woolley
1978-1988. 68 matches. 4,120 runs at 40.79. 110 catches and 13 stumpings.

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Not the current Australian captain, but Woolley’s batting record could not be ignored. He also captained the state 29 times. Has Tasmania’s tenth best career batting average (minimum 20 matches) as a wicketkeeper.

Bowlers

Despite the presence of Shane Watson as a seaming all-rounder, given Tasmania’s historical strengths, they will be fielding only one spinner.

James Faulkner
2008-present. 50 matches. 2,034 runs at 29.47. 156 wickets at 24.71 average and 50.4 strike rate. Two titles. (Current to 21 October 2019)

For someone with such a great bowling record and decent batting, consideration for Test honours unjustly past Faulkner by. In 2010/11 Faulkner scored a half century in Tasmania’s Shield final win over NSW. Then in 2012/13 he scored a second-innings 89 in the drawn Shield final to defeat Queensland.

Luke Butterworth
2007-2015. 69 matches. 2,761 runs at 28.17. 221 wickets at 24.61 average and 53.9 strike rate. Three titles.

Arguably Tasmania’s greatest ever Shield player, Butterworth was criminally underrated throughout his career outside of Tasmania.

In 2006/07, Butterworth scored 66 and 106 and took four wickets in Tasmania’s first ever Shield win over NSW. Then in 2010/11 he topped the Shield season wickets and scored a half century in the state’s Shield final win over NSW.

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In 2011/12 Butterworth took six wickets in Tasmania’s Shield final loss to Queensland. And in 2012/13 he topped Tasmania’s season wickets and scored 86 in first innings of their drawn Shield final to defeat Queensland. There are few who have a better finals record than Luke Butterworth.

Colin Miller
1982-2000. 54 matches. 210 wickets at 31.70.

“Funky” Miller is a bit of a forgotten superstar. Capable of bowling quality off spin or seam up, in 1997/98 Miller broke the record for most wickets in a Shield season with 67, a record he still holds today.

Miller also topped the Shield season wickets in 1993/94. Over his career with Tasmania and South Australia, Miller amassed the 15th most Shield career wickets in history.

Jackson Bird
2011-present. 53 matches. 257 wickets at 20.97 average and 43.5 strike rate. One title. (Current to 21 October 2019)

Bird could be the best current bowler in the Shield. He boasts the fourth best career average and second best career strike rate in Shield history (minimum 20 matches) and has taken the fifth most career ten-wicket hauls in a match.

Bird topped the Shield season wickets in 2011/12.

Second XI
1. Mark Cosgrove. 2010-2014. 39 matches. 2,514 runs at 40.54. Two titles. This underrated batsman topped the Shield season runs in 2010/11 and scored 44 not out in Tasmania’s second-innings chase to win the Shield final over NSW. In 2012/13 he scored a first-innings half century in Tasmania’s drawn Shield final to win the title over Queensland.

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2. Ed Cowan. 2009-2015. 52 matches. 4,079 runs at 44.82. Two titles. In 2010/11, Cowan scored a century in Tasmania’s Shield final win over NSW. In 2011/12 he topped the Shield season runs and scored a second-innings 71 in Tasmania’s Shield final loss to Queensland. On returning to NSW, Cowan again topped the Shield season runs in 2016/17.

3. Alex Doolan. 2009-present. 94 matches. 5,422 runs at 33.06. Two titles. In 2010/11, scored 65 not out in Tasmania’s run chase to win the Shield final over NSW. In 2017/18 he scored a second-innings half century in the state’s Shield final loss to Queensland. (Current to 21 October 2019)

Australia's batsman Alex Doolan

(AP Photo/ Themba Hadebe)

4. Daniel Marsh. 1996-2010. 133 matches. 7,134 runs at 36.21. 153 wickets at 46.52. The batting all-rounder captained Tasmania 50 times, including being captain of Tasmania’s first title-winning squad. Took 172 catches, the fourth most career catches in Shield history.

5. Brian Davison (Zimbabwe). 1979-1988. 41 matches. 3,060 runs at 45.00. 27 matches as captain. Fourth best batting average in Tasmanian history, behind only Michael Bevan, Ponting and Matt Wade.

6. Shaun Young. 1991-2001. 104 matches. 5,565 runs at 37.85. 201 wickets at 39.22. In 1993/94, in Tasmania’s first Shield final, Young top-scored in first innings with 62 and took three first-innings wickets in their loss to NSW.

7. Tim Paine. 2005-present. 77 matches. 3,425 runs at 27.84. 223 catches and six stumpings. Three titles. Finally scored his second first-class century this year. In 2012/13 Paine scored a second-innings 87 in Tasmania’s drawn Shield final to defeat Queensland. (Current to 21 October 2019)

8. Damien Wright. 1997-2007. 64 matches. 1,995 runs at 23.75. 197 wickets at 32.13. One title. In 2006/07 Wright scored 67 in the first innings and took eight wickets in the match of Tasmania’s first ever Shield final win over NSW.

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9. Ben Hilfenhaus. 2005-2015. 68 matches. 262 wickets at 29.54 average and 58.5 strike rate. Three titles. In 2006/07 Hilfenhaus topped the Shield season wickets and took seven wickets in the match in Tasmania’s first ever Shield win, over NSW. His 60 wickets that year were the fourth most ever in a Sheffield Shield season.

10. Brett Geeves. 2004-2010. 40 matches. 975 runs at 21.66. 139 wickets at 33.07 average and 57.5 strike rate. One title.

11. Xavier Doherty. 2001-2015. 66 matches. 153 wickets at 41.15. Three titles.

Third XI
1. Dean Hills. 1991-2001. 100 matches. 6,887 runs at 38.47. Topped the Shield season runs in 1997/98.

2. Jordan Silk. 2013-present. 49 matches. 2,993 runs at 32.53. One title. In his debut year in 2012/13 Silk scored a first-innings century in Tasmania’s drawn Shield final to defeat Queensland. In 2017/18 Silk scored twin half centuries in the state’s Shield final loss to Queensland.

3. Dirk Wellham. 1988-1991. 30 matches. 1,600 runs at 41.02. 30 matches as captain. 77 matches as captain for Tasmania and NSW are the fourth most in Shield history.

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4. Rod Tucker. 1988-1999. 90 matches. 4,611 runs at 35.74. 112 wickets at 40.72. 30 matches as captain.

5. Danny Buckingham. 1983-1994. 75 matches. 4,407 runs at 37.34.

6. Peter Faulkner. 1982-1990. 36 matches. 1,503 runs at 31.31. 61 wickets at 54.52.

7. Sean Clingeleffer. 2000-2007. 74 matches. 2,708 runs at 26.54. 220 catches and 12 stumpings. One title. In 2006/07 Clingeleffer scored a century in Tasmania’s first ever Shield final win, over NSW. Clingeleffer has the 19th most career dismissals in Shield history.

8. Stuart Saunders. 1980-1989. 48 matches. 1,795 runs at 26.39. 58 wickets at 57.50.

9. Peter Clough. 1980-1984. 28 matches. 102 wickets at 28.55 average and 60.2 strike rate.

10. Andrew Fekete. 2013-2018. 31 matches. 108 wickets at 30.3 average and 53.6 strike rate.

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11. Adam Maher. 2010-2013. 20 matches. 65 wickets at 26.0 average and 51.9 strike rate.

Other notables and one-offs
Mark Atkinson. 1992-2000. 84 matches. 2,350 runs at 29.01. 237 catches and 25 stumpings, the 15th most career dismissals in Shield history.

Michael Bevan. Got snapped up by NSW, but for Tasmania from 2004-2006, in only 19 matches Bevan scored 2,109 at 63.90. That’s the best batting average ever for Tasmania.

Ben Dunk. Topped the 2015/16 Shield season runs.

Bert Webster. 2014-present. 38 matches. 1,717 runs at 27.25. 36 wickets at 46.8. 56 catches. In 2016/17, his 23 catches equalled the most ever in a series.

Promising youngsters
Grant Bell. 2017-present. 16 matches. 63 wickets 24.31 average and 48.7 strike rate. Third best average and fourth best strike rate for Tasmania in history (minimum ten matches). (Current to 21 October 2019)

Tom Rogers. 2017-present. 14 matches. 46 wickets at 21.3 average and 40 strike rate. Second best average and best strike rate for Tasmania in history (minimum ten matches). Third best strike rate in all of Shield history (minimum ten matches). (Current to 21 October 2019)