The Roar
The Roar


The history of Australian domestic limited-overs cricket: Part 3 (1993 to 2001)

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Roar Guru
30th January, 2023

The summer of 1992/93 saw a new sponsor for the domestic limited over competition and a shake up to the format.

Instead of two pools, all sides were included in a single round robin competition. The number of matches each season exploded from just 9 in 1991/92 to 17 the following year and eventually up to 31 matches by 2000/01. Australia’s success in 50 overs cricket on the world stage saw Cricket Australia flood the market with limited overs matches.

In 1997/98 Canberra became the first new side to the join the competition since its inception, introducing the public to future stars such as Brad Haddin and Anthony Stuart. Others to top Canberra’s runs or wickets during their short stay were Rod Tucker, Jason Voros, Stuart Karppinen, Graeme Cunningham and Lea Hansen. The side was gone again by 2000/01.

Also in 1997/98 the competition brought in a rule to play 12 players per side, although only 11 could bat or be on the field at one time. This was to allow a team to substitute in a 5th bowler or additional batsman during the game. This innovation lasted until 2002/03.

05 Oct 1999: The captains of the Mercantile Mutual cup teams from (L-R) Michael Bevan of NSW Blues,Jamie Cox of Tasmanian Tigers,Darren Lehamann of Southern Redbacks, Paul Reiffel of VIC Bushrangers,Adam Gilchrist of Western Warriors,Rod Tucker of Canberra Comets and Stuart Law of QLD Bulls huddle around the Mercantile Mutual trophy at the launch of the 1999/2000 Mercantile Lutual Cup season at North Sydney Oval,Sydney Australia. Mandatory Credit: Tony Feder/ALLSPORT

The captains of the Mercantile Mutual Cup teams in 1999 from (L-R) Michael Bevan of NSW Blues ,Jamie Cox of Tasmanian Tigers, Darren Lehamann of Southern Redbacks, Paul Reiffel of VIC Bushrangers, Adam Gilchrist of Western Warriors, Rod Tucker of Canberra Comets and Stuart Law of QLD Bulls huddle around the Mercantile Mutual trophy at the launch of the 1999/2000 Mercantile Mutual Cup (Photo:  Tony Feder/ALLSPORT)

NSW were the dominant side of the Mercantile Mutual Cup’s 9 season run, winning three titles. Ironically they achieved a hat trick of titles at the beginning of this era (1991/92 to 1993/94) and again at the end (2000/01 to 2002/03). They were also runners up twice. QLD, Victoria and WA won two titles each, leaving Tasmania, SA and Canberra without a victory. Tasmania and Canberra did not feature in any grand finals.

The era started with NSW on a roll. They won in 1992/93 and again in 1993/94, over Victoria and WA respectively.

Year by Year


In 1992/93 Steve Waugh topped the competition runs for a second consecutive year (269), but it was the unheralded Brad McNamara who was player of the match in the final. McNamara took 3 for 27 to restrict Victoria to 186, dismissing Victoria’s two premier batsmen Dean Jones and Darren Lehmann for a combined four runs. NSW won with four wickets and just two balls to spare, thanks to half centuries by Michael Slater and Michael Bevan. In the semi finals, Dean Jones propelled Victoria into the final with a superb 90 not out to defeat WA, with no other player from either team passing 20. Most series wickets: Brendon Julian (WA) 11.

1993/94 saw NSW cult hero Richard Chee Quee dominate the final with 131 runs, a record for a domestic final, as the Blues ran out comfortable winners over WA. For the first time (that I know of) the authorities crowned a player of the series and it was Queenslander Stuart Law. Law hit three centuries, including 159, and became the first player to score over 350 runs for the series (384). Chee Quee did it too, finishing with 357 runs. Most series wickets: Brad McNamara (NSW) 9.

NSW’s three year stranglehold was broken in 1994/95, with Victoria defeating SA in the final to win their first title since way back in 1980. SA had a great season with Darren Lehmann scoring 421 runs and Shane George taking 18 wickets to each break the all-time series records. SA reached the final courtesy of an epic chase of 280 in the elimination final against WA. After being reduced to 2 for 5 and with Darren Lehmann back in the pavilion, Paul Nobes (140) and Daniel Marsh (55) shared an unbroken 86 run partnership to get SA home with one ball to spare.

In the final the little known Victorian duo of Troy Corbett and Jason Bakker took four wickets each to bowl SA out for just 169. Corbett took the first four wickets to fall, including Lehmann, Nobes and Jamie Siddons. Despite some wobbles caused by Shane George and Joe Scuderi, Victoria got home with 4 wickets to spare, thanks to some dogged batting by Rohan Larkin and a young Matthew Elliott.

In 1995/96 and 1996/97 QLD and WA appeared in consecutive finals and swapped titles. After some high scoring years, 1995/96 was harder on batsmen with only three centuries for the entire season and only three teams making scores over 250. The final was another low scoring affair with WA succumbing for just 166 – Scott Prestwidge and Geoff Foley sharing 6 wickets between them. Trevor Barsby scored 50 in the successful chase and in the usual fashion it was the batsman who was given man of the match. Queensland’s Geoff Foley took 7 wickets across the semi final and grand final. Most series runs: Mark Lavender (WA) 238. Most series wickets: Brendon Julian (WA) and Scott Prestwidge (QLD) 13.

In 1996/97 WA turned the tables in emphatic fashion, chasing down a modest target of 148 with 8 wickets and 90 balls to spare. Mark Atkinson was the pick of the bowlers with 3 for 33 and only Geoff Foley (34 not out) handled the WA pace attack (Foley had earlier scored 66 in QLD’s semi final to underline his importance to a star-studded side, despite his lower profile). WA opener Ryan Campbell put the issue beyond doubt with a blistering 50 from 45 balls to win the player of the match. This followed 50 from just 34 balls in their semi final win over Victoria. WA’s Kade Harvey was the stand out bowler for the series, equaling the series record with 18 wickets. Harvey topped the wicket taking charts again the following season. Most series runs: Jimmy Maher (QLD) 335.

It was QLD again in 1997/98, stumbling over the line against NSW by just two wickets with 13 balls remaining. QLD’s bowling all-rounders won the day in another low scoring affair. Andy Bichel scored 30 and took 3 for 25, while man of the match Scott Prestwidge took 3 for 25 and was there at the end with 42 not out chasing NSW’s modest 166. A QLD top order of Matt Hayden, Jimmy Maher, Martin Love, Stuart Law and Geoff Foley had been dismissed for just 40 before the lower order scrapped their way to victory. WA had a great year, spearheaded by Damien Martyn’s record 494 series runs and three man of the match awards, but were knocked out in the semi final when Queensland chased down 283 with three overs to spare. This season also saw the introduction of the Canberra Comets and a young Brad Haddin announced himself with a man of the match 89 from 91 balls vs. Victoria. Most series wickets: Kade Harvey (WA) 16.


In 1998/99 Victoria won their second title of the decade with a 39 run victory over NSW. In a close match, the difference was Ian Harvey, with 57 runs in Victoria’s 231 all out. An even bowling performance saw NSW restricted to 192. Harvey had shown his all-round abilities in Victoria’s semi final win over South Australia taking 4 wickets. Queensland’s Matt Hayden was awarded player of the series for his 474 runs, even though Ian Harvey was the only player to receive 3 man of the match awards. Most series wickets: Scott Prestwidge (QLD) 15.

In 1999/2000 WA defeated QLD by 45 runs to take the title. A mammoth score of 6 for 301 was spearheaded by Ryan Campbell’s 108 from just 85 balls, although the man of the match went to Brad Hogg, with 40 not out and 2 wickets for just 20 runs. This came on the back of Hogg’s 36 not out and 3 for 37 in their semi-final. QLD got themselves in good position in the chase with opening batsmen Martin Love and Jimmy Maher putting on 186 in just 26 overs, but fell away badly. Matt Hayden was player of the series for the second season running, this time scoring a record 532 runs. In a high scoring year, no less than 16 centuries were scored but no bowler took more wickets than Michael Kasprowicz’s modest total of 12.

2000/2001 saw a change in format, with Canberra removed from the competition, semi finals cut and the top two teams playing off for the title. Canberra star Brad Haddin made his debut for NSW who went on to win their first title since 1993/94 and their first of three in succession. In the final, despite fine performances by Tom Moody (78) and Michael Hussey (84 not out from 68 balls), NSW got home with 10 balls to spare as Michael Bevan put on one of his chasing masterclasses, finishing not out on 135. Tasmania’s Shaun Young and SA’s Darren Lehmann shared the man of the series honours, despite WA’s Murray Goodwin’s 534 runs breaking Matt Hayden’s series record set just a year ago. Stuart MacGill’s 18 wickets also equalled the series record, which he would go on to break the following season.

Other Stand out Performances

As the number of matches rose, so too did the number of big performances, especially since the national squad players still turned up a fair bit to play in this era



Steve Waugh (NSW) 131 out of 252 and 3 for 50 vs. QLD to win by 11 runs. The next best score for NSW was only 28, plus Waugh took the most wickets as well.


Stuart Law (QLD) 114 from 109 balls and 4 wickets for 33 runs vs. WA. A brilliant all round performance by the captain, setting a target of 283 and then clean bowling Geoff Marsh (on 95) and Tim Zoehrer (30) on the way to four wickets and a 29 run win.


Paul Reiffel (VIC) 4 wickets for 14 runs from 10 overs vs. Tasmania. Victoria had posted a middling 234 thanks to Dean Jones’ 113 (next highest just 37), but Reiffel made it look like a mountainous score, taking the top four wickets of Michael Di Venuto, Jamie Cox, Ricky Ponting and Shaun Young with only 35 on the board and giving up just 1.4 runs per over.


Josh Marquet (TAS) 5 wickets for 23 runs vs. QLD. The Tasmanians didn’t have a lot to cheer about during the 1990’s in one day cricket, but this was an exception. Tasmania managed only 175 from their 50 overs against a very strong QLD attack. The chase should have been a gimme for this batting line up: Trevor Barsby, Martin Love, Stuart Law, Andrew Symonds, Jimmy Maher, Allan Border and Ian Healy. Instead, unheralded Josh Marquest took out Love, Law and Symonds to send QLD from 1 for 23 to 4 for 29 before returning to help wrap up the tail and secure an unlikely 17 run victory.


Dean Jones (VIC) 121 not out vs. Tasmania. On a difficult pitch Jones came in at 2 for 13 and guided the Victorians to 218 and a 43 run victory. Apart from Matthew Elliott’s 64, no other player from either side passed 35.


Brad McNamara (NSW) 6 for 25 vs. Tasmania. In a comprehensive win, McNamara was the standout, dismissing three top order batsmen and then coming back to take the final three wickets for just 2 runs. They were the best bowling figures in the competition since 1989.

Tom Moody (WA) 102 not out and 4 for 30 vs. South Australia. Western Australia were in real trouble at 4 down for just 24. Moody scored 102 with Adam Gilchrist’s 37 being the only other score above 15. 210 was not looking like enough until Moody took 4 wickets as well in a fine all round performance.


Damien Martyn (WA) 93 runs and 2 wickets for 36 runs vs. QLD. Martyn took two valuable wickets as WA restricted QLD to just 209. However, the target proved challenging with WA falling from 2 for 81 to 6 for 96 and then 8 for 152. Through it all Martyn stood firm as the only player to score over 30, only falling as the ninth wicket with the scores level, allowing Jamie Stewart to scramble the winning run for a one wicket victory.



Brad Haddin (Canberra) 133 from 124 balls vs. Victoria. Chasing 226, Haddin dominated the chase with only two other batsmen reaching double figures.

Matt Hayden (QLD) 152 not out vs. Victoria. Hayden batted through the innings of 278 with the next best contribution just 38. Victoria still chased down the total thanks to half centuries from Matt Elliott and Ian Harvey.


Shane Lee (NSW) 112 from 97 balls and 3 wickets for 45 runs vs. QLD. Lee dismissed Jimmy Maher, Stuart Law and Geoff Foley to help restrict QLD to 247, before coming in at 3 for 49 and leaving at 4 for 229 enabling NSW to reach their target in 46 overs.

Mike Hussey (WA) 100 not out and 3 wickets for 52 runs vs. Victoria. Hussey anchored a middling total of 239, but then with Victoria cruising bowled opener Graeme Vimpani for 87 and then mopped up the tail with his part timer seamers.


Murray Goodwin (WA) 167 from 138 balls vs. NSW. This effort against the eventual champions broke the record for the highest score in the competition’s history, held by NSW’s Rick McCosker since way back in 1981.


Don Nash (NSW) 61 not out from just 28 balls and 2 wickets for 39 runs vs. Western Australia. Coming in at 8 for 214 in the 42nd over. Nash smashed 6 sixes in an 88 run partnership for the 9th wicket in just over 7 overs. He then dismissed Ryan Campbell and Murray Goodwin as NSW won by 60 runs.

Darren Lehmann (SA) 119 not out from 88 balls, 3 wickets for 25 runs vs. Victoria. Victoria scored a very competitive 277 despite Lehmann coming on as the eighth bowler used and taking 3 wickets in 5 economical overs. He then blitzed the chase from number 4, remaining not out as SA reached their target with 3 overs to spare.

Next time we head into the 2000’s where the competition enjoyed an unprecedented period of stability, but by the end of the decade the cracks in the format and the lack of star power were beginning to show.