NSW v WA, Sheffield Shield final, Canberra, 3rd day March 23, 2014

Hazlewood's six puts NSW on path toward title


New South Wales 447 and 2 for 46 lead Western Australia 180 (M Marsh 92*, Hazlewood 6-50) by 313 runs

Josh Hazlewood's six-wicket haul kept New South Wales firmly in control of the Sheffield Shield final, despite Mitchell Marsh's efforts to drag Western Australia back into the contest with an unbeaten 92. By the close of the third day's play, New South Wales were 2 for 46 in their second innings, with Steven Smith on 21 and Ben Rohrer on 24, and the 313-run advantage was a pleasing buffer for a side needing only to draw the match to lift the Shield.

Two wickets in the first two overs gave Western Australia a slight hope of running through the Blues and setting themselves a target, albeit a hefty one, but Smith and Rohrer steadied after Jason Behrendorff trapped Ryan Carters lbw first ball and Nic Maddinson edged Ryan Duffield to second slip. The innings began with the Warriors needing a cricketing miracle after only three of their batsmen reached double figures in their total of 180.

Most of the day was a grind for the players and spectators as Western Australia tried to recover from their overnight total of 4 for 15. That became 5 for 23 early in the day when the nightwatchman Duffield edged behind off Hazlewood but the Marsh brothers made life a little tougher for the New South Wales attack, although notably their occupation of the crease did not hurt the Blues significantly on the scorecard.

Western Australia needed victory to win the Sheffield Shield but Shaun Marsh and Mitchell Marsh decided the best way forward was to build the runs slowly, and dot balls and maidens piled up during their 98-run partnership which took 43.5 overs. The occasional half chance was all that was offered until Shaun Marsh, on 40, was lbw from his 161st delivery when Moises Henriques found some reverse swing.

Ironically given the lack of scoring intent, Mitchell Marsh nearly fell to a run-out chance in the last over before tea when a mix-up with his new partner Sam Whiteman left Marsh stranded in the middle of the pitch when Carters failed to collect a throw cleanly at the bowler's end. Marsh survived to push on after the break but the wickets began to fall at the other end.

Hazlewood completed his maiden five-wicket haul in a first-class match when he pushed one across Whiteman, who on 12 edged behind to Peter Nevill; despite having been part of a Test squad before, Hazlewood's best first-class bowling before this was 4 for 14. He bowled with good pace and found some swing and made it six wickets when Ashton Agar's agonising 2 from 32 ended with a wild slash outside off that was snapped up by the wicketkeeper.

Steve O'Keefe chipped in for his first wicket when Behrendorff pushed at a ball that spun away just enough and was caught behind by Nevill, and Mitchell Marsh decided his tempo had to lift if he had any chance of reaching a century. A cleanly struck six down the ground got him close but he was left stuck on 92 when Trent Copeland finished off the innings by bowling the No.11 Michael Hogan for a duck.

It was fitting that Copeland managed to pick up a wicket, for his accurate and miserly work was key to building the pressure that brought wickets at the other end for much of the innings. Hazlewood was the man who claimed the rewards with 6 for 50 but it was a strong bowling performance all round from the Blues. And it moved them one step closer to their first Shield title for six seasons.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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  • Guy on March 24, 2014, 4:21 GMT

    @Ken McCarron, you are quite right about Silk, Cazzulino and Hastings. Incidentally, Behrendorff is from the ACT too... but personally I don't think a 'Comets' team would be strong enough to regularly compete in the Shield. Six teams is probably still the right number to balance developing depth with quality of teams.

  • Nicholas on March 23, 2014, 22:37 GMT

    Smith really showing his class. Impressed with young Josh considering this is he final and as others have said it is well deserved.

    @pvck - I think SOK will get the nod for UAE. Brilliant summer and hopefully can hold on to top spot (41) in the shield. Behrendorff is looking like the better odds at the moment.

    NSW deserve this shield.. And without Abbott and Bollinger.

    Henriques also played a cracking 1st inn ton.

  • Dummy4 on March 23, 2014, 22:37 GMT

    I don't like the idea of NSW having to only draw the final to win the Sheffield Shield. If this is to reward NSW for finishing on top of the table, then why not go back to the pre 1983 system and give the shield to the team that finishes on top?

    If a final is to be played, it should be a timeless match. Whoever wins the final wins the Shield. The saddest part of the Final (and the Sheffiedld Shield season as a whole), is the total lack of spectator support. Even with free admission, there crowds are pitiful. A lot of people say that they are interested in the Shield, but very few of them make the effort to attend matches!

  • Dummy4 on March 23, 2014, 19:06 GMT

    @Moppa, It's true about the exports plus you have Jordan Silk (Penrith) and Steven Cazzulino (St George) from the Tasmanian side plus the Victorian John Hastings who hails from Sydney's Hawkesbury club. We could hand back Shane Watson and still field two sides. Maybe time to bring in the ACT with Lyon, Carters, Haddin et al from around that part of the countryside. Better quality in those three than what many other states are producing!

  • Dummy4 on March 23, 2014, 9:41 GMT

    Lack of positive intent costing the Warriors ... Marsh is developing very impressively .. In a couple of years, Whiteman shud slot at 6 and Marsh at 7 for Aus ! A couple of quick wickets will make it very interesting tomo ! Looking forward to watch Patterson bat

  • Guy on March 23, 2014, 9:35 GMT

    @Velayudham Akshay, the pitch is slow and hard work for the bowlers. NSW could have enforced the follow on but it would've been a massive slog. They're a good batting session tomorrow morning from basically securing the Shield. @pvck, agreed, M.Marsh showed good maturity and deserved a century. @Frankie_Stubbs and @Ken McCarron, agreed, despite all the bashers, NSW keeps delivering quality players. You could easily imagine a Shield final between NSW and the NSW exports. NSW exports XI (you'll spot the one retired player I needed to draft in): Cowan, Hughes, Khawaja, Forrest, Cooper, Christian, Gilchrist, Zampa, Mennie, Bird, Hogan.

  • Peter on March 23, 2014, 9:12 GMT

    Hazelwood is a "nice type" as Jack dyrer used to say.

    Slow and steady wins the race - he has taken a while to perform well at 1st class level but that is OK - time to give the guy a go at test level now. I have a feeling he will be another McGrath

  • Dummy4 on March 23, 2014, 9:09 GMT

    It's good to see Hazelwood is performing well. And now NSW are in a fantastic position. Given the kind of attack 400 will be a tough one to chase. With still two days to go I think NSW should win the Sheffield Shield title.

    Also why didn't Steve Smith enforce the follow on? The surface was good for bowling.

  • rob on March 23, 2014, 8:34 GMT

    I'm really pleased for Josh Hazlewood. He's from my neck of the woods. Tamworth, yeah ha. I don't know him but I played against his dad. If Josh is anything like big Trev, he'll be a tower of strength for years to come. And a gentleman to boot.

  • David on March 23, 2014, 8:21 GMT

    And as is generally the case, if NSW is going well then so is Australia. And good to see Hazelwood's body holding up and delivering the rewards he's been working for since his FC debut.

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