With the curtains coming to a close to this season’s Sheffield Shield, the details for the final have been announced.
This season has highlighted the fact that the future of Australian cricket is in good hands with 21-year-old Cameron Green leading the tournament for most runs, with 922, and Will Sutherland (21), Mitch Perry (20), Jarod Freeman (20) and Lance Morris (23) picking up 57 wickets between them.
The final is the perfect stage for a player to step up and make their name prominent in the media and in the minds of Test selectors.
Here is a guide on all the essential information on the 2020-21 Sheffield Shield grand final.
Where is the final being held?
Due to Queensland finishing on the top of the ladder – with 33.17 points (three wins, one loss, two draws) – the final will be held at Allan Border Field in Brisbane.
Who is playing?
Competing against Queensland will be Peter Nevill and Kurtis Patterson’s New South Wales. Due to a loss in the last game of the season for Western Australia against Tasmania, NSW came second, with 31.51 points opposed to WA’s 28.37.
Where and when can I watch the game?
The match is to be played between April 15-19 and begins at 9:30am (AEST) each day, broadcast live on Kayo and Fox Cricket. The match will also be available to listen live on ABC Grandstand, the Cricket Australia app and cricket.com.au.
What are the squads?
With the availability of NSW captain Peter Nevill uncertain due to the birth of his second child, it’s likely that Baxter Holt will be the keeper and Patterson will skipper the side.
James Bazley has been replaced in the Queensland squad for in-form Jack Wildermuth, who missed the last round due to the birth of his first child.
Injury has caused that, once again, the Bulls will play without pace-bowler Mark Steketee. The recent start of the IPL means NSW will be without Steve Smith, David Warner, Pat Cummins and Moises Henriques, but will still have internationals Sean Abbott, Trent Copeland, Patterson, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood (who withdrew himself out of the exclusive tournament earlier this month).
When it comes to internationals, Queensland have the likes of Usman Khawaja, Joe Burns, Marnus Labuschagne, Michael Neser, Matt Renshaw, Billy Stanlake, Mitch Swepson and Jack Wildermith.
Queensland: Usman Khawaja (c), Xavier Bartlett, Joe Burns, Brendan Doggett, Marnus Labuschagne, Michael Neser, Jimmy Peirson, Matthew Renshaw, Billy Stanlake, Bryce Street, Mitchell Swepson, Jack Wildermuth
NSW: Sean Abbott, Harry Conway, Trent Copeland, Jack Edwards, Matthew Gilkes, Josh Hazlewood, Lachlan Hearne, Baxter Holt, Daniel Hughes, Nathan Lyon, Peter Nevill, Kurtis Patterson, Jason Sangha, Tanveer Sangha, Mitchell Starc.
Who to look out for
Due to the consistency of Smith and Labuschagne in Australia’s top order, Khawaja’s Test career appears to be in doubt. However, the New South Welshman turned Queenslander has a chance to play in his first ever Sheffield Shield final win, despite playing in the competition for over a decade.
In the tournament so far, Swepson and Lyon have dominated with the ball and it will be interesting to see how they both perform for their individual teams.
Who are the favourites?
Despite Queensland finishing on top of the ladder and having home advantage, NSW are my favourites.
For the majority of the season, NSW played without their star bowlers Hazlewood (two games) and Starc (six games). Their ability to perform on the big stage has been on show for Australia over the last number of years and they will tip the game.
In saying that, the majority of betting odds around the country have Queensland as the favourites.