Queensland take title in tense final
Queensland 276 and 7 for 133 (Townsend 36, Faulkner 3-27) beat Tasmania 241 and 167 (Cowan 71, Hopes 5-61, Harris 3-52) by 3 wickets
Queensland won their seventh Sheffield Shield title after a tense finish to the final against Tasmania at the Gabba. Chasing 133 for victory, the Bulls sneaked home with three wickets in hand and fittingly it was the first-innings heroes Chris Hartley and Steve Magoffin who steered their team to the triumph following some shaky moments through the middle of the chase.
Hartley and Magoffin came together after Queensland had lost five wickets for eight runs, and at the time they were still 45 short of their target, on 7 for 88. James Faulkner and Luke Butterworth had not only sparked a mini-collapse but they also dried up the runs as nerves began to grip the Queensland batsmen, who knew the Bulls had endured more disappointments than successes in their recent Shield finals.
But Magoffin and Hartley steadied the side and survived some nervous moments, including when the Tasmania wicketkeeper Tom Triffitt put down Hartley moving low to his left with 11 runs still required. The remaining runs came gradually; Magoffin pushed the winning single to cover to finish on 36 not out and Hartley was unbeaten on 19, and was Man of the Match following his first-innings hundred.
It was Queensland's first four-day title since 2005-06 and they have now made seven of the past ten finals for two triumphs. The win also capped off an outstanding debut season for the coach Darren Lehmann, while the captain James Hopes led from the front with a half-century in the first innings and a five-wicket haul in the second.
Tasmania began the fourth day with a 101-run lead and Ed Cowan loomed as the key to their hopes of setting a defendable target. But Cowan was caught at slip for 71 off the bowling of Hopes, who also claimed two more lower-order wickets to finish with 5 for 61, while Ryan Harris ended up with 3 for 52 as the Tigers were bowled out for 167.
They had added only 31 to their overnight total and it meant a target of 133 for the Bulls, who stumbled early when Alex Kemp edged Jackson Bird to slip for 6. A solid 61-run stand between Wade Townsend and Andrew Robinson set the chase back on track, although things became shaky when both of those men departed in the 30s.
Robinson was caught at short leg off Jason Krejza's offspin for 31 and he was followed by Joe Burns, who cut Faulkner straight to gully for 8. Townsend was on 36 when he gloved a catch down the leg side off Faulkner and the Bulls were 4 for 88, which soon became 7 for 88 as Hopes, Chris Lynn and Harris all fell in quick succession.
Hopes was dropped third ball by Nick Kruger at gully but drove a catch to Ricky Ponting at mid-off two deliveries later, before a brief rain delay gave both teams time to regroup. No runs had been added on the return when Lynn (4) was caught at slip off Butterworth and two deliveries later Harris shouldered arms and lost his off stump when Butterworth swung the ball back in sharply.
Magoffin inside-edged his first ball just past the stumps for a boundary and luck stayed with him and Hartley, who had put on a valuable 97-run stand in the first innings. Hartley's efforts were all the more impressive given he was ill throughout the match, while for Magoffin it was a fine way to end his first season with his native state Queensland after a career spent at Western Australia.
The Bulls coach Darren Lehmann was fined Aus $2000 for breaching Cricket Australia's code of behaviour during the match. Lehmann was reported on day three for an offence relating to the laws of cricket and spirit of the game: the incident occurred when Lehmann had approached the umpires, Bruce Oxenford and Simon Fry, after they had stopped play due to bad light on day three. At a hearing at the end of the match today, Lehmann had pleaded guilty.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here