Sheffield Shield 2015-16 February 12, 2016

Sheffield Shield final uncertainty grows

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Victoria, who won the Sheffield Shield in 2014-15, have nominated Traeger Park in Alice Springs as their choice for the venue of the tournament final © Getty Images

Uncertainty over the future of the Sheffield Shield final has been underlined by the announcement that only three of six states will have access to their prime venue for the competition decider in late March.

Top-of-the-table Victoria have nominated Traeger Park in Alice Springs as their choice for the final rather than the unavailable MCG, while second-placed South Australia have plumped for Gilderol Stadium at Glenelg in place of Adelaide Oval.

New South Wales are yet to confirm their choice of ground but are understood to have suggested Coffs Harbour, with Cricket Australia to review its appropriateness as a ground during the Blues' forthcoming Shield fixture on the north coast.

"Three of our six states are in positions where their regular season venues are unavailable, meaning they needed to nominate an alternative ground for Cricket Australia approval," CA operations manager Sean Cary said.

"A venue for New South Wales will be confirmed closer to the Final should they look likely to finish in top position. This Sheffield Shield season has been one of the most notable in its 123-year history, including hosting two games under day-night conditions as well as playing the first ever match overseas in Lincoln, New Zealand last week," Cary added.

Last October, the outgoing CA chairman Wally Edwards and the chief executive James Sutherland both expressed doubts about the future of the final, which is being squeezed by various fixture pressures such as the Big Bash League. Football's insistence on taking possession of the MCG, Adelaide Oval and the SCG before the end of the Shield season is also affecting the issue - Victoria hosted Western Australia in Hobart last year.

"The Shield final, over many years, has proved itself to be a bit of a non-event, to be honest," Edwards said following CA's AGM. "There probably have only been three or four good Shield finals.

"The rest of them have been shockers, a bad advertisement for the game. I think it confuses the back end of our season. I think the best team should win in Shield cricket. If you play eight or ten games, that should sort it out."

Sutherland echoed Edwards' views, noting how the expansion of the BBL was leaving fewer and fewer spare days in each season. "I think Wally is right. If you do look through history, the Shield finals have been absolutely dominated by the home team or a long draw," Sutherland said.

"I don't think we should change it unless there was good reason to change that. But, at the same time, we are in a good position at the moment of having a burgeoning Twenty20 domestic competition that is in big demand.

"At some stage in the future, we will be looking at ways in which we can expand that, whether that is expansion through number of matches or number of teams, of what have you. That might put pressure on other parts of our program."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • snarge on February 16, 2016, 3:56 GMT

    A big big chance it will be at the Gabba anyway. Queensland have it on their own bat, with a victory over Victoria obviously the key. I'm sitting there now wondering if the difficulty of this points system isn't the last straw keeping people away. This young side is looking outstanding.

  • PeterZ on February 16, 2016, 3:02 GMT

    Vic's should play the final in Ballarat. ACB, you can count on me to turn up.

  • Beertjie on February 15, 2016, 12:31 GMT

    Way to go,@Bobagorof: all good ideas!

  • flickspin on February 15, 2016, 5:50 GMT

    It's really disappointing that cricket Australia is treating Sheffield shield this way.

    My solution is start the Sheffield shield earlier in the season whilst the football season is still on and play at Punt road, Glenelg and Alice springs then. And play the finals earlier at grounds like the M.C.G, S.C.G and Adelaide oval.

    First class players would be in form by the time the international test series have started.

    My idea might not work if the lesser grounds like Punt Road, Glenelg or Alice Springs are still in use in October.

    About Sheffield shield and Ryobi cup I would give free attendance to any junior and senior player who plays cricket and give schools free attendance to.

    What makes australian cricket so strong is our first class cricket system, 90 of our best players competing in the worlds strongest first class system.

    Only a very few don't have to wait 10 years for a chance and most are dropped and spend time in Sheffield shield before returning to be world beaters

  •   Gavin Stevenson on February 13, 2016, 2:01 GMT

    If it weren't for cricket, AFL wouldn't exist. You can't wait a couple of weeks for the cricket season at ONE ground to be over.

  • Uncapped on February 12, 2016, 21:02 GMT

    BTW... Completely understand the scheduling pressure faced by CA from BBL, venues, time, money etc. but don't care where they hold it or if only 50 people turn up, there should be a final and it does carry prestige for the players and a small number of fans. I think it helps our future test players for reasons I said below.

  • Swan_Draught on February 12, 2016, 20:27 GMT

    I thought last years' event was a such a 'special one off event' that they decided to make an exception to their own rules in where a final can be held. And now we find out it's an annual thing

  • Uncapped on February 12, 2016, 10:39 GMT

    Completely disagree with Edwards. Even if the final turns out to be one sided it is another level of pressure and a big game for the players. Big performances in a shield final have lifted many players to higher honours. Selectors take notice and the player gains belief.

  •   Simon Davis on February 12, 2016, 10:20 GMT

    MERVO: footy rules the roost, because it is footy that brings people through the turnstile to generate the cash to develop and maintain stadiums. If Cricket wants access to those stadiums in late summer/early autumn, it needs to find a way to draw a crowd

  • smudgeon on February 12, 2016, 9:16 GMT

    MERVO, it's been a long time coming, as I'm sure you're aware. I recall Andrew Demetriou suggesting only a few years ago that if Victoria made the Shield final, they should play the final at Punt Road so as not to interfere with AFL season preparation. For better or worse, the AFL have all the power when it comes to scheduling. Somewhat sad state of affairs for those of us who still think the "C" in "MCG" means something. Still, a bit of creative thinking, and perhaps this is an opportunity for CA to introduce the concept of a neutral venue for the Shield final - like Manuka Oval, for instance.

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