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Opinion

Celebrating the Sheffield Shield: Best ever state team and the All-Time XI

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Roar Guru
2nd November, 2019
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For those who may have read my recent articles on best ever Sheffield Shield players and teams, here’s the criteria for selection behind the articles for each team.

After an overwhelming outcry demanding these teams play off to the death (okay, so two people may have mentioned it), set out below is my team order.

And to finish off, I have picked the best composite XI from all the teams selected.

Note: this is based on a mythical season where every team plays each other both home and away.

Sixth place: Tasmania
Team List: Jamie Cox, Michael Di Venuto, David Boon, Ricky Ponting, George Bailey, Shane Watson, Frank Woolley, James Faulkner, Luke Butterworth, Colin Miller, Jackson Bird.

While this team is very strong, with Ponting the standout batsman, the Tasmanians may struggle playing away from the more seamer-friendly pitches at home. Their spinning resources are not on par with the other teams and their attack has a little sameness to it.

On the batting front, Punter is supported by very good, but not great players. There is good batting depth though.

Fifth place: Queensland
Okay, so I have bowed to the masses here and brought in some ringers… Matt Hayden and Alan Border have come into the side.

Team List: Matthew Hayden, Jimmy Maher, Greg Chappell, Martin Love, Stuart Law, Alan Border, Chris Hartley, Andy Bichel, Michael Kasprowicz, Jeff Thomson, Malcolm Franke.

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Similar to the Tasmanian team, Queensland falls down a little with its spinning options. They would be very hard to beat at home with that brilliant pace line-up and although they will suit the two other traditionally strong pace wickets – the WACA and in Tasmania – so will their opposition. Their batting has slightly more firepower than Tasmania’s.

4th place: South Australia

Team List: Jack Badcock, Greg Blewett, Ian Chappell, Darren Lehmann, Clem Hill, Garfield Sobers, Graham Manou, Clarrie Grimmett, Geoff Noblet, Chadd Sayers, Shaun Tait.

This team are elevated above Queensland and Tasmania purely on the basis of Grimmett and Sobers. Grimmett is simply the best bowler in Shield history and Sobers is, well, Sobers. The batting is very solid from number three down and if Barry Richards had played another 12 matches South Australia may well have cracked the top three.

In fact, if those dastardly New South Welshmen hadn’t grabbed The Don, the SA team could have been anything. Also, Tait is the sort of bowler that on his day may have troubled Bradman. The pace bowling is maybe an eight out of ten.

Third place: Victoria
Team List: Bill Ponsford, Matthew Elliott, Jack Ryder, Brad Hodge, Lindsay Hassett, Warwick Armstrong, Darren Berry, Chuck Fleetwood-Smith, Chris Tremain, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle.

A very strong side indeed, but the batting has one out-and-out all-time great in Ponsford and the rest are extremely good to great. The bowling attack is well-served for spin and by their all-rounder, but there is a nagging feeling that the present-day pace unit might not have the answers when facing the truly great batsmen of the past.

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Second place: Western Australia
Team List: Geoff Marsh, Graeme Wood, Justin Langer, Damien Martyn, John Inverarity, Tom Moody, Tim Zoehrer, Tony Lock, Dennis Lillee, Jo Angel, Terry Alderman.

The men from the west have a well-balanced bowling attack that equals any other state and would be threatening in all conditions (bowlers win matches). They could well be unbeatable at home. Tom Moody, their all-rounder, is an underrated beauty. The only question is whether that batting group would hold up against the better attacks.

First place: New South Wales
Team List: Warren Bardsley, Alan Kippax, Don Bradman, Simon Katich, Michael Bevan, MA Noble, Brad Haddin, Richie Benaud, Alan Davidson, Geoff Lawson, Bill O’Reilly.

The batting is extremely good for the most part, but let’s not kid ourselves – they have Bradman. In the bowling stakes, they have some great options although their only possible weakness is fighting fire with fire in the west.

I’m convinced our modern-day batsmen would have no clue how to deal with Tiger O’Reilly and with Alan Davidson coming in from the other end, you have the two most economical bowlers in Australian history.

And, you know, Bradman.

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Australia's best-ever Don Bradman

(Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)

Best composite team
If pushed into it, here is the all-time Sheffield Shield XI. Remember this is the same criteria, not a Test best.

Bill Ponsford
Alan Kippax
Don Bradman
Martin Love
Michael Bevan
Monty Noble
Brad Haddin
Clarrie Grimmett
Dennis Lillee
Alan Davidson
Bill O’Reilly

Very hard to leave out Darren Lehmann, Greg Chappell, Ricky Ponting, Warwick Armstrong, Chuck Fleetwood-Smith, Tony Lock, Richie Benaud, Michael Kasprowicz, Andy Bichel, Warren Bardsley, Chris Hartley, Lindsay Hassett, Matthew Elliott and Clem Hill.

So there you have it, the Sheffield Shield, the cornerstone of Australian cricketing success. Let’s hope this is remembered the next time someone wants to double the size of the BBL.