Here are my latest Sheffield Shield talking points.
1. What was going on in NSW first innings?
There has been plenty of discussion about all the centuries scored in Adelaide so far this Shield summer and when the Blues won the toss and batted against Tassie, they must have been thinking about adding to the tally. They would not have dreamed of being all out 30 overs later.
In fairness, there was a bit in the track but NSW forgot how to play on pitches that are doing something and paid the price. More than one batsman got out to a poor shot, which highlights why it’s so important we have more sporting pitches for this competition. Yes, it’s great to see batsmen making big scores, but only if they have their techniques thoroughly examined.
And the Blues still managed to win the game!
2. Joe Burns batted himself out of the Test side
I’m confident the selectors would have ignored the comments from the Chappell brothers about choosing Pucovski – that is until this last round of Shield games.
Burns had one final chance to play a convincing innings to show selectors he was worth keeping at the top of the order. Scores of 10 and 11 are simply not enough runs, not when another opener has scored back-to-back double tons, so on that basis, Trevo Hohns and co will no doubt debut a new opening partner for Dave Warner in the first Test.
3. Are cracks appearing in the Marnus machine?
Has anyone noticed Marnus Labuschagne’s last three scores, a pair of ducks and 14? He’s also been out LBW three times in his past four innings, though one of those was after he’d scored his second hundred of the season.
His past 12 months have been simply outstanding so it comes as a bit of a surprise to see Labuschagne making low scores. Touch wood it’s only an aberration and we get to see a lot of the batting we all enjoyed from him last summer.
4. One becomes two
For those of you who might not have seen it, have a look at the highlights package of Josh Inglis second century on the Cricket Australia website. It was a terrific hundred, full of attacking shots all round the ground.
Kudos too for Matthew Renshaw’s first hundred in what seems like forever. He also looked the goods, though I was surprised at how many runs he scored on the legside. It seemed like a big majority were through square leg and mid-wicket, which surprised me as I seem to recall him being more of an offside player.
Nevertheless, it was really good to see him making a ton. Now he needs to build on that.
5. Who’d want to be a lower-order Victorian batsman?
Two matches into the new season and cobwebs would be growing on the batting gear for numbers 7 to 11, such has been the brilliant form of the openers in particular.
Will Pucovski is almost certain to debut in the first Test and Marcus Harris has provided great support, leaving little opportunity for the rest of the batting to do a lot. That may come back to bite them later in the season if guys aren’t getting a hit.
The Vics have a problem with their attack which is, at best, honest. Across two games, they’ve struggled to bowl teams out. Yes, they rolled the Redbacks for 200, but conditions favoured the bowlers that day and they could not repeat the dose in the second innings. They also conceded a first innings lead against WA, which suggests they might be a quality bowler (or two) short.
6. Mitchell Swepson keeps doing it
Another five-for and a swag of economical overs in South Australia’s second innings simply confirms an outstanding start to his Shield summer.
There’s no doubt he will be included in the extended Test squad, but what will he do after the Test series is finished?
At the time of writing Cricket Australia has not released the second part of the Shield schedule, so Swepson is likely to play in the BBL, which I think would be a mistake.
Spin bowling in white-ball cricket is completely different from what’s expected in four-day games and it would be a shame if he lost form as a result of chopping and changing formats.
7. Such a shame we’re having a midseason break in the Shield
I’m sure the players will be delighted to escape the restrictions they’ve been placed under in order to play Shield cricket, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the cricket we’ve seen so far this summer.
I’m also not sure how the break helps guys like Renshaw, Cameron Bancroft and others who were starting to show signs of coming back to their best. Most will go back to play BBL, but again, does that help them when it comes to red-ball form?
8. Call me old-fashioned but…
I’m not missing the hugging and other forms of affection players have been displaying in recent seasons when a wicket falls. Guys this season are getting excited but the celebrations and on-field antics are far more restrained.
And speaking of restraint, it would be good if batsmen could use more self-control when they get out. Burns, Labuschagne and especially Travis Head all demonstrated a lack of this skill and Head yapping at the umpire as he was walking off is simply unacceptable.
9. Vale Callum Ferguson
I hope the Roar author of this comment does not mind (C.K.), but I think he summed up Ferguson’s last Shield innings and career perfectly;
“Gotta feel for him. Out for 97 in your last first-class innings! Can’t get a break. Maybe it sums up his career a bit. Promised a lot, got so close, but never quite made it.”
10. Our first-class cricketers are wusses
Daniel Hughes was the first batsman out in NSW first innings, caught behind off the 35th ball of the innings. Less than 30 seconds after his dismissal, guys were streaming onto the ground with drinks, for both the fielders and the remaining batsman.
Four overs later, the second NSW wicket fell and on came more drinks, towels and so on two overs later another wicket fell and yep…more drinks and that continued until the end of the innings.
I get the need for drinks on very hot days. I’m also sure all of us have played when we wished we could have drinks at the end of each over, but fit, professional athletes needing refreshments after 20 minutes of cricket or nine drinks in a bit over two hours on a pleasant Adelaide day is simply ridiculous.