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New era for Sheffield Shield

Daniel Brettig

May 29, 2014

Comments: 20 | Text size: A | A

New South Wales celebrate their victory, NSW v Western Australia, Sheffield Shield final, day 5, Canberra, March 25, 2012
The Sheffield Shield is set to bring back bonus points © Getty Images
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Bonus points will return to the Sheffield Shield competition under a new system to be introduced to Australia's first-class proving ground next summer.

In the most fundamental change to the Shield competition since the introduction of the five-day final in 1982-83, Cricket Australia will adopt a system derived from those used in England and South Africa, where bonus points are awarded for runs and wickets inside the first 100 overs of the first innings.

A CA board meeting at the National Cricket Centre in March "endorsed a recommendation to adopt a new points system for future seasons of the Sheffield Shield, subject to further consultation with State Associations", and ESPNcricinfo understands the new bonus points system may be announced as soon as next week.

This concept has been deemed more nuanced than the long-time award of six points for an outright result and two for a first innings lead. The premium on outright results had for some years been cited as a major contributor to Australia's successful and aggressive brand of the game, but recent summers had seen the increasingly frequent preparation of "result" pitches as ruinous to batsmen and spin bowlers as they were helpful to seamers.

Last year CA had directed state associations to prepare drier pitches to provide a more equitable contest between batsmen, pacemen and spinners, resulting in the average duration of Shield matches growing from 289 to 338 overs per game. Spin bowlers were duly responsible for more than 1000 extra overs and claimed more than 100 extra wickets in 2013-14 when compared with 2012-13. The number of hundreds compiled in the Shield also rose by 20%.

These statistics will be further encouraged with the change to the points system. The Shield has featured bonus points before, from 1971-72 until 1980-81. During that time, teams were motivated towards faster scoring with up to 10 batting points and five bowling points on offer in the first 100 (eight-ball) overs of their first innings.

Discussion of changes to the points system has been going on at CA management and board levels for some time, and was not quietened by the success of the Test team beating England 5-0 at home last summer before following up with a 2-1 away victory over South Africa. In October, the chief executive James Sutherland had made the link between points systems and pitches.

"There is a question mark we have in our own mind as to whether the incentives are in the right place to deliver the best pitches," he said. "If we have a points system that is heavily loaded to an outright result, then people may well roll the dice on a less prepared wicket. If you have a look at a lot of other places around the world, their domestic four-day competition has a different points system, where there are bonus points.

"We will have a look closely to see how the pitches play out and what happens in Test cricket, but we are having a look at our points system to understand whether it is creating incentives that end up in the wrong place. Shield cricket is the best place to prepare players for Test cricket. Therefore it follows that we should play on pitches that are as much akin to Test cricket as possible."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig

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Posted by AdrenalineJunkie on (June 3, 2014, 5:26 GMT)

This is a horrible decision. We have a multitude of attacking batsman around the country. You just have to look at South Africa to see why they're successful. Amla, De Villiers, Du Plessis all have exceptional survival skills. All three are also successful in short form cricket without being as explosive as a David Warner or Shane Watson. Our best and perhaps only player with that skill is Michael Clarke. We need to develop people with the skills to survive in dire situations. I can't understand how CA thinks lack of attacking batsman is the problem. Not to mention the favoritism this will give Queensland and South Australia who taylor batting strips.

Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (June 1, 2014, 21:37 GMT)

After watching at least three Australians ruin Kings XI Punjab's chances of winning IPL 2014 (Bailey shocking captaincy and smugly promoted himself up the batting order; Maxwell reverse sweeping a dolly catch to fielder; Johnson bowling so poorly and not smart enough to remove tailenders like Chawla) - Australia needs to find new hope and talent imminently. If that means doctoring the pitches to give them a head start, so be it.

Posted by Behind_the_bowlers_arm on (June 1, 2014, 18:13 GMT)

Usually the points work where you get a point for getting to (say) 250 and then an additional one for each 25 runs inside the 100 overs. The bowling team gets a point for every 2 wickets. The simple thing for groundsmen is that they are told to prepare a 'Test wicket'. It does noone any good to see these greentops.

Posted by   on (May 31, 2014, 11:15 GMT)

@YGDK, I thought they were already playing 98 overs a day? I don't think over rates are a concern at shield level. I'd like to see one team added to our First Class system, an academy side based out of Brisbane, playing their games at the AB field. They need not even be involved in the shield competition, but I think a squad of 12-15 youngsters that could be boosted by the likes of Rogers and Siddle at times when others are playing T20 cricket would be a great move. There's a lot of talented cricketers out there who aren't necessarily going to be playing for their respective shield teams the whole time that could benefit greatly by being put under the watch of our better coaches. Guys like Agar, Rose, Muirhead, Handscomb, Dunk, Abbott, Sandhu, Cummins, Dunk and plenty of others are in positions where they are stuck behind incumbents or need a managed workload but they should be getting experience at FC cricket because they are some pretty talented players.

Posted by ygkd on (May 31, 2014, 8:30 GMT)

Much was made of the change away from bonus points 30 years ago. Then, the outgoing rules were deemed to complicate matters. Maybe a change back is now required to some extent, but there are surely other matters requiring attention. 90 overs in a day must be enforced as a minimum. Pitches must be varied across the land, but should not be varied to suit a home team's fortunes. Another team or two in new places like Alice, Canberra or north Qld wouldn't go astray, especially as it means two extra pitches, hopefully extending the diversity of conditions on offer. Youth and 2nd XI cricket has been needing a rethink. Bowlers need to bowl more, especially spinners, and cameo performances with the bat need to be taken with more of an old-fashioned grain of salt. And the BBL needs to be a lesser partner to the Shield (yes, pigs will fly first), but without that, this might all end up as another piece of window-dressing. Yes, Australian cricket is still okay. It could, however, be more than ok.

Posted by   on (May 31, 2014, 3:01 GMT)

@PFEL it is an acceptable result. You should always okay to win but sometimes you can either roll over and die or you can force a draw. like south Africa in Adelaide a few years ago.

Posted by Chris_P on (May 30, 2014, 7:59 GMT)

@Jono Makim. You're probably right, but it was a good coincidence we uncovered so many quicks during that period. And after seeing a few games last season, agree the balance was right, some of pretenders of previous seasons suddenly found the going a bit tougher. I thought Starc showed plenty of character bowling Australia to victory to over Sri Lanka in Hobart but hasn't quite nailed it since.

Posted by   on (May 30, 2014, 6:37 GMT)

@Chris_P, I'm not sure the result pitches have helped our seam attack that much, certainly not in a couple of very critical aspects, stamina and planning. They don't know what it is to bowl long spells, maintaining constant pressure in hope of a mistake from the batsmen, certainly not the young blokes like Patto and Starc. To be fair Starc hasn't even really played any shield cricket, but if he did I'd like it to be full season on good batting wickets, he'd gain so much in terms of his thinking and approach to bowling. For me there has just been too many easy wickets in recent seasons, I do think there was a great balance struck last season, however, and am hoping it won't be lost if there is a change in the rules.

Posted by johntycodes on (May 30, 2014, 4:35 GMT)

The article didn't explain how the bonus points would work. Points for runs and wickets inside the first 100 overs does that mean runs added to totals or points on the overall standings. It makes no sense

Posted by FREEMONEY on (May 30, 2014, 4:33 GMT)

Each team gets 180 overs maximum to bat (4 x 90 over days). they can use this however they like (tactics) In the fourth innings if a team holds on for the draw they receive a losing draw which is worth less points..... with out any thought First innings is worth 0 points Second innings outright win 6 points Second innings draw, team chasing falls short gets 2 points , team setting the result gets 4 points. If less than 360 overs are bowled due to weather and there is no result both teams get 3. Any team who does not bowl 30 overs a session will be docked a point at the conclusion of the match, each time they do it.

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Daniel BrettigClose
Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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