Australia news March 10, 2014

Manuka Oval could host Sheffield Shield final

ESPNcricinfo staff

The Sheffield Shield final may be held at Manuka Oval in Canberra or Gliderol Stadium in Glenelg after both New South Wales and South Australia were forced to find alternatives to their main venues. The last round of matches begins on Tuesday and will determine the finalists, with South Australia, New South Wales and Western Australia all equal on 26 points at the top of the table and Queensland also in contention on 22 points.

South Australia had already advised that if they were to host the final it would be held in Glenelg instead of at Adelaide Oval due to a Rolling Stones concert, and New South Wales have also had to come up with another plan. The SCG will be in use for Major League Baseball matches between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks, and Cricket New South Wales has nominated Manuka Oval as its final venue.

The Blues will play Western Australia at Manuka Oval in the final round in a match that will go a long way to determining the make-up of the final, although South Australia's match in Hobart against Tasmania will also be important. Last year's runners-up, Queensland, could also catapult themselves into the decider if they beat Victoria at the MCG.

All three of the top sides will benefit from the return of Test players from the tour of South Africa, with Steven Smith to captain New South Wales, who also gain Nathan Lyon. Shaun Marsh is likely to rejoin the Western Australia outfit, perhaps as a replacement for his brother Mitchell, who suffered a side strain in last week's match.

Phillip Hughes will make his return for South Australia but the Redbacks will be without their captain Johan Botha, who was suspended for one match for a bizarre incident in last week's match against New South Wales. Botha was believed to have called for the new ball during the New South Wales innings and then rubbed the old ball on his boot spikes before throwing it off the ground.

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