Following the conclusion of the Big Bash in Australia and a wait for the Australian side to be back playing in India, the Sheffield Shield provides a fantastic platform not only for the end of the season and league conclusion but what could come from it. A successful 4 day campaign and form at the end of the season could grab you a spot on the Australia A tour to England prior to possible selection for the Ashes. A lull in form could see you axed from the squad and out of contention with spots up for grabs for the Ashes tour. Short Leg will pick out players who will be ones to focus on in the final 4 matches of the Australian domestic season.
Matthew Wade (Tasmania) 571 runs @ 63.44 HS: 137 100s: 1 50s: 5
Wade has had an amazing season with the bat after topping the charts so far in the JLT Sheffield Shield amassing 571 runs from 12 innings with 1 century and 5 half tons. He also recently assisted the Hobart Hurricanes to top of the BBL Table before crashing out in the Semi’s with 592 runs in an instrumental top order partnership with Western Australian D’Arcy Short. Wade has been subject of a lot of press since his return to form as his determination to be in the Test squad has received mixed reviews. He made the good point to the coach Justin Langer about scoring runs = place in the side, which he had quoted from Langer from his arrival speech. With a sense of injustice of not being included in the International squad, a good finish to the season for Wade will further strengthen his case and will surely see him in the Australia A tour of England before the Ashes.
Conor McLnerney (South Australia Redbacks) 285 runs @ 25.90 HS: 63 50s: 2 1-57(15.0)
In a somewhat disappointing and poor performance from the South Australia side in the Sheffield Shield, the 24 year old left arm batsman has been a shining light in a dim bulb. Having registered 2 losses and 4 draws, the Redbacks are yet to find the winning formula yet McLnerney has been a mainstay at the top of the order in just his debut season. The born and bred home favourite batsman has shown a good temperament and steadiness at the top of the order alongside fellow experienced players Tom Cooper (501) and Jake Lehmann (461). His strike rate of 39.25 demonstrates his Matthew Renshaw like way of going about playing the Dukes ball early on but has yet to make a big, match winning score which will be his aim coming into the end of the season. A strong finish to a debut campaign and a few more wickets to compliment his status in the side could see him come into a T20 gig or a county stint in England.
Jimmy Peirson (Queensland Bulls) 297 runs @ 37.12 HS: 82NO 50s: 2 22 catches
Peirson has been in exceptional form for Queensland, leading from the front with the bat . His keeping has stayed consistent with some standout catches as well as some ingenious captaincy bringing the Bulls home to victories on occasions. Most notably, he played a typical captain’s innings in the previous Shield match with 75NO alongside Michael Neser 76NO which gave Queensland a brilliant win against Tasmania in a big 414 chase. At 26 years of age, Peirson seems to have been in the Australian domestic setup for a long time and his experience collated from the Big Bash will be invaluable for Queensland in the chase for the finals. A continuation of his early season form could see him in the reckoning for higher honours, a possible replacement for Tim Paine if he is injured?
Matthew Kelly (Western Warriors) 17 wickets @ 29.35 BBI: 5-61 BBM: 6-102 E: 2.79
Kelly’s fiery pace and accurate line and length has seem him go from strength to strength this season after a positive start to the first class life. As well as that, his Big Bash form went under the radar in a dismal display by the Perth Scorchers with his range of variations and genuine line and length gaining him 11 wickets in the 7 games he featured in. Changes have been made for Western Australian from their Big Bash side to their First Class side with regular coach Justin Langer in charge of Australia with former player Adam Voges taking over. Both teams have gone for youth and Kelly at 24 has shown his value to the squad with the age aside, he has shown his know how on many occasions. With 5 players in the squad poised to make debuts due to the unavailability of several Australia ODI squad players, Kelly will be destined to lead the line and with this chance he could possibly force himself into the future international sides.
Alex Pyecroft (Tasmania Tigers) 10 wickets @ 15.50 BBI: 5-28 BBM: 6-103 E: 2.29
What a revelation Pyecroft has been to the Tasmania side. Which ever scout picked him up seems to have found an early gem! I might be slightly bigging him up but taking a five fa in your debut first class match against an experienced Queensland side is no mean feat. His arrival to the crease saw Queensland collapse to 86-8, incidentally in a match the Bulls won. The 26 year old found five outside edges of the batsman in a controlled and rewarding spell of bowling announcing himself on the domestic scene! He has only played the last 2 matches but his introduction seems to have been a boost to the bowling stocks of Tasmania which includes wily bowler Jackson Bird, young gun Gabe Bell and Hobart Hurricanes T20 star Riley Meredith. Sitting in 5th place, the Tigers need some wins to propel them up the table and will be looking at their bowling attack including Pyecroft to compliment their experienced batting of Test captain Tim Paine and Matthew Wade.
Chadd Sayers (South Australia Redbacks) 11 wickets @ 32.36 BBI: 5-101 BBM: 6-155 E: 2.84
The forgotten man of Australian cricket returns with a point to prove! Caught up in the turmoil of the South African tour and the Sandpaper incident of Cape Town, Sayers flew out to the Proteas and performed admirably in the first innings in Johannesburg (final test) bowling 35 overs at an economy of 2.23 with 2 wickets. The recent subsequent test tours for Australia have seen Sayers exiled and return to the domestic scene. Following early injury, Sayers has played 3 matches and started in blistering form with the ball. At the age of 31, Sayers has experience on side and time and his future Australian aspirations seem to be slim. However, he has played 1 Test match for the Baggy Greens which many can say they haven’t and his return to form will be instrumental in his side’s chances of registering a victory in the Shield.
The Shield begins on Saturday evening and should be an exciting season ender with places for future tours and closer tours in the form of the Australia A tour of England and then the Ashes up for grabs. A lot of players will be jumping at the chance to have some late season form which could give them winter opportunities in England for a possible county stint.