Sheffield Shield 2015-16, final March 29, 2016

Plan to energise Sheffield Shield final

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This summer the Sheffield Shield would be claimed by hosts South Australia in the event of a draw, but that may not be the case in future seasons © Getty Images

Future Sheffield Shield titles would only be awarded to the outright winner of the final, under one of several proposals currently being considered by Cricket Australia to revitalise the competition decider.

Planning of the domestic schedule for next summer is at an advanced stage, and ESPNcricinfo understands the Shield final is safe from being cut, as there are no plans to grow the number of Twenty20 Big Bash League games from their present number before the 2017-18 season. Any changes to the final could then be tested before a decision is made on whether it is retained against an expanded BBL.

CA, the states and the players have been in talks about ways to revitalise the five-day final, which has run to largely predictable scripts over the years. While outstanding contest like the first final in 1983, a one-wicket win for New South Wales over Queensland in 1985 and South Australia's last-gasp escape in 1996 have stayed in the memory, most have been duller affairs on flat pitches.

This has been largely due to the fact that competition rules allow for the Shield to be awarded to the team finishing top of the table in the event of a draw, meaning the surface is invariably prepared to increase the likelihood of that outcome. The proposal to leave the Shield shared between the two finalists unless there is an outright result is geared towards ensuring a more lively contest on a fairer surface.

Pat Howard, CA's team performance manager, has floated this possibility among numerous other thought bubbles, and it is believed to have met a favourable response from CA Board directors, state associations and players. A five-day final is considered ample time to gain an outright result, provided the pitch offers enough.

Ironically, the strip prepared for this year's meeting between South Australia and Victoria at Glenelg Oval has proven to be an excellent example, affording enough seam movement to the fast men and some appreciable turn for the spinners. At the same time, batsmen have been able to make runs when applying themselves. Outstanding innings by the youthful trio of Travis Dean, Peter Handscomb and Jake Weatherald have underlined the value of the final as a proving ground.

"I'm not surprised there has been discussion," the Cricket Victoria chief executive Tony Dodemaide said. "We've had those in meetings with Cricket Australia. The cricket world changes over time, it's very different to when it was first installed in the early '80s.

"But I think we are seeing today how valuable it can be in terms of this sort of intensity of cricket, particularly for young players, it's been outstanding in this particular game how young players from both teams have really stood up and shown what they can do under pressure. That is something worth persisting with I think personally.

"I think it's been a very, very good cricket wicket, what it's done with the new ball, with the spinners and how they're getting a little bit out of it, there's a chance for everyone to have some input in the game. The surfaces are crucial in ensuring there's a decent balance."

Glenelg's successful hosting of the final, where the smaller ground has leant a pleasant festival air to proceedings while also providing an ideal surface, has not been lost on Victorian administrators as they work on long overdue upgrades to Junction Oval as a cricket hub and secondary venue after the MCG.

"I'm very impressed, I've done several laps of the ground over three days through nervousness and also wanting to have a look a what they've got here," Dodemaide said. "This is a terrific arena for Shield cricket, it's an excellent atmosphere and a perfect fit for what Sheffield Shield cricket can be. With what we are looking for at the Junction Oval this will definitely influence it."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dave1970 on April 3, 2016, 22:29 GMT

    The shield final should stay. The season is played for the top two to go in to the final. In case of rain making the final a no play (for the final to be counted as a draw both teams must have complete their first innings), then the shield is awarded to top of ladder team. In case of a draw simply make it based on a formula for wickets lost, runs scored by each team for the match. The team with the higher rate, meaning played more attacking cricket should be declared winner. Hopefully this would make the sides play in the right fashion for a win. Finishing on top of the ladder should only give you the advantage of hosting the final. 5 days should remain as the length as it is a simulation of test cricket which is another reward in itself. The pitch should be done to test stranded with a bit in it for both batter and bowler and deteriorating towards the last day for a result. There should be a Bradman medal awarded to best Final player. Can you imagine No AFL final? 50% get a crack.

  • Timothy Leaver on March 30, 2016, 3:58 GMT

    I think people are missing an obvious solution of awarding the shield to the team leading on first innings as it'd be rather difficult for a five day match not have two completed innings, without multiple days completely lost to rain. In that case awarding it to the top side makes enough sense.

  • Alkonaris on March 30, 2016, 1:02 GMT

    An obvious answer is to hold the Sheffield Final in a neutral venue and therefore negate any home advantage.

    This could easily be achieved by booking the grounds not needed by the AFL - the WACA and Bellerive Oval - as well as third oval such as Traeger Park or Manuka Oval in case both WA and Tasmania qualify for the final.

    In a side note, I'm glad to hear Glenelg Oval is providing a festival atmosphere for the final - I attended the final when it was held at Junction Oval, and it was wonderful experience.

    Maybe instead of battling the AFL for grounds, Cricket Australia could take the Sheffield Shield to the smaller city venues such as North Sydney Oval, Junction Oval and Glenelg Oval, if not to country venues.

  •   Nathan Hull on March 29, 2016, 17:01 GMT

    This is actually a really dopey idea. The Sheffield Shield has no biases in the draw, with each State playing all others at home and away. The trophy could easily be given to the top-ranked team; organizers are being generous giving second place a shot at the title.

  •   Ezekiel Zweck on March 29, 2016, 16:29 GMT

    As a South Australian, I'm disappointed that it looks like we'll lose the final and the Shield this year, but I've got to say that I'm happy to see that the wicket that was prepared for this game has been a good one for cricket, and not just a road designed to guarantee SA a win after many years. Well done to those involved for ensuring that cricket has been the winner. Mind you, we may still spring a surprise on the last day. Wouldn't it be funny if we won by 3 runs after the ball tampering affair...

  • Behind_the_bowlers_arm on March 29, 2016, 14:23 GMT

    I'd prefer if there is a draw that neither state gets the Shield. No sharing just Shield Not Awarded. I bet there would never be another draw.

  • Rowayton on March 29, 2016, 11:01 GMT

    Sharing the title might be a joke too. Say one state wins all 10 games during the season, the second placed side wins 3, then 2 days are washed out in the final and side 2 ends up struggling to a draw 9 wickets down and the Shield is shared? Yeah, right. How about some lateral thinking? Give the Shield to the side that finishes with the most points at the end of the season; and play the 'final' for a separate trophy, the Bradman Cup or something. If nobody wins, then the cup isn't awarded.

  • izzidole on March 29, 2016, 10:43 GMT

    Hope we will have wickets prepared to suit both the batsmen and bowlers next season unlike the surfaces prepared to favour the batsmen last summer. The drop in pitches should be either abandoned or prepared to assist both the batsmen as well as the bowler which would mean less injuries to our fast bowlers who keep getting injured trying to extract more speed and bounce from the wicket. It will also provide more assistance to our spinners and go a long way to help adapt to conditions overseas where the wickets are totally different especially in the sub continent. In the light of recent developments in world cricket CA should not abandon it's commitment to shield cricket and test cricket. After all money is not everything.

  • Mervo on March 29, 2016, 10:14 GMT

    A draw = shared title is the obvious outcome in case of a flat pitch or rain?

  •   John Biddle on March 29, 2016, 8:50 GMT

    So that means either the game becomes timeless (about as retrograde a step as it would be possible to take, if the object is to add interest) or as Annoyedofit suggests, the title is shared if it's a draw (a very nice fallback position if you get behind in the game or would have to take a risk to win). Doesn't either of those alternatives serve to de-energise the final?

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