Tasmania secure second Shield title
Tasmania 453 (Cowan 133, Copeland 4-124) and 3 for 203 (Doolan 65*, Cosgrove 44*, Coyte 1-37) beat New South Wales 440 (Hughes 138, Doherty 3-67) and 5 for 215 declared (Jaques 94, Hughes 93) by seven wickets
Tasmania has claimed the second Sheffield Shield title in their history, outlasting a brave New South Wales side to win by seven wickets. The Blues gave themselves every chance with an early and surprising declaration late on the fourth evening but they will rue three missed chances last night as Tasmania played patiently and with great discipline to overhaul the 203-run target before tea on the final day.
The day five strip in Hobart was as hard as concrete and it took its toll on a tired Blues attack. The new ball played a few tricks early but Tasmania's openers withstood the barrage to compile 53 for the first wicket. Ed Cowan, who was named Man of the Match for his outstanding 133 in the first innings, made the first mistake of the day miscuing Scott Coyte to mid-on where Phil Jaques was able to redeem himself for dropping the left-hander the previous evening.
Nick Kruger stuck to his task before gifting the Blues the second wicket on 31, clipping Trent Copeland straight to square leg where Steve O'Keefe needed to two bites to clutch the catch to his chest. It was nice reward for the tireless Copeland. He bowled 79.2 overs in this final, the most by any player in history, surpassing Stuart MacGill's effort at Bellerive four years ago.
At Kruger's departure Alex Doolan was just 8 from 55 deliveries, showing how miserly the Blues had been and how much pressure there was in this run chase. But Doolan was rewarded for his patience. He put on 60 for the third wicket with his captain George Bailey. The skipper played some cracking trademark pull shots in his 25 before running himself out. Pat Cummins knocked out two stumps from mid-on after Bailey drove straight to him and ran.
The 17-year-old Cummins delivered a monumental 65 overs for the match and deserved better than his figures of 3 for 165 read. But if his body can survive such punishment on a wicket as hard as this, greater rewards will fall his way in the years ahead.
Doolan flourished with victory in sight. He and Mark Cosgrove added the 72 required in less than 20 overs after Bailey's dismissal. Doolan finished 65 not out from three hours of grind. Cosgrove's 44 not out took a typically brisk 66 deliveries and featured a six and five fours, including the winning blow off O'Keefe.
The Blues may well rue their misses last night but can hold their head high in defeat. There have been no less experienced attacks than theirs in any previous Shield Final and their efforts must be applauded.
But it was Tasmania's day to celebrate. They were the dominant side all year. With just three players present from the side that claimed their first title four years earlier the small Apple Isle continues to set an extraordinary standard in Australian Domestic Cricket.