The Roar
The Roar



Gambles backfire for Blues as Queensland take charge in Shield final

Autoplay in... 6 (Cancel)
Up Next No more videos! Playlist is empty -
15th April, 2021
1370 Reads

New South Wales rolled the dice several times on Day 1 of the Sheffield Shield final, but it was Queensland’s consistent execution that came up trumps.

The Blues were rolled for just 143 on a surprisingly sporting Allan Border Field pitch before Queensland cut the deficit to double figures with nine wickets still in the sheds.

It was a series of gambles by NSW that failed to materialise on Day 1 that has left them in a difficult position.

First they opted to favour ball over bat at the selection table, a move that backfired considerably.

In picking a five-man bowling attack the Blues were forced to bat all-rounder Sean Abbott at No. 6.

Abbott has had a fine season with the bat, but he is not a top-six player.

The move might have been viable had the experienced Peter Nevill been batting behind him at No. 7, but he wasn’t.

Sports opinion delivered daily 



Instead it was third-gamer Baxter Holt who was thrown into the deep end.

That move inadvertently heaped pressure on Jack Edwards and Jason Sangha at Nos. 4 and 5, who weren’t up to the task.

Sangha himself rolled the dice and similarly failed.

Having watched Daniel Hughes and Kurtis Patterson bogged down early – both took 40-plus deliveries to move beyond five – Sangha opted to counter punch.

He drove from the outset and the aggression forced Usman Khawaja to push the field back.


But Sangha had yet to gather a feel for the tacky surface and spooned an easy caught-and-bowled after attacking his first short ball from the excellent Michael Neser (5-27).

This was a crucial moment in the match and triggered a collapse of 8-67.

He wasn’t the only one to gamble and fail.

Senior statesman Mitchell Starc, so often the contributor of valuable lower-order runs for Australia, opted for aggression when caution was needed.

Queensland all-rounder Michael Neser

Michael Neser has been excellent (Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Starc holed out to long-on at a similarly crucial time, with the Blues at 6-123.

This was a period when 200-plus was still on the cards — a total that might’ve amounted to par given their star-studded bowling outfit.

“I tell you what, I’d be disappointed with Mitchell Starc if I was Abbott,” Symonds said on Fox Cricket immediately after the dismissal.


“I’d be just thinking, ‘Mate, I just need you to play. I didn’t need you to take the game on like that — it’s not that sort of wicket’. I’d be disappointed in the way he’s gone about that.”

The Blues’ 143 was the second-lowest total in the first match innings of a Sheffield Shield final.

Queensland’s 102 in 2004-05 is the lowest.

But while NSW can be criticised for their decision-making on Day 1, credit should be heaped Queensland’s way — in particular a bowling outfit that, as Neser put it at tea, had “bought in” to a plan.

Neser and Jack Wildermuth (4-21) took the spoils, but it was an all-round seamers’ effort that pushed their side into a commanding position.


Brendan Doggett (1-38 off 15) and Xavier Bartlett (0-24 off 12) maintained the pressure and nagging length that overall drew six edges through to the keeper and slips cordon.

Despite Queensland’s Day 1 dominance, NSW are still in the match given their Test-quality attack.

Nathan Lyon drew huge turn on his very first delivery late on Thursday and showed that fourth-innings batting at Allan Border field will be tough.

He also caused early issues to the left-handed Bryce Street (14 not out off 69) – good signs with Usman Khawaja and Matthew Renshaw, two more lefties, to come.

Unsurprisingly, it was Marnus Labuschagne (23 not out off 48) who looked a class above in the centre.

A hundred from the world’s No. 3 Test batter on Friday would ensure Queensland has one hand on the 2020-21 Sheffield Shield.