List of winners
In 1891-92 the Earl of Sheffield was in Australia as the promoter of the English team led by W. G. Grace. The tour included three Tests played in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide. At the conclusion of the tour, Sheffield donated £150 to the New South Wales Cricket Association to fund a trophy for an annual tournament of inter-colonial cricket in Australia. The new tournament commenced in 1892-93 featuring the three colonies of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. They were already regularly playing ad-hoc matches which were very popular, although they discussed divvying up Sheffield's donation before opting to organise a competition, and that delay meant that there was no trophy to present to the first winners, Victoria.
Although only three states participated, others were very much part of the cricketing calendar. Tasmania played their first first-class game (against Victoria) in 1850-51, while Queensland and Western Australia appeared in 1892-93. There were regular inter-state games. Nevertheless, Queensland were not admitted to the Shield until 1926-27, Western Australia immediately after WW2 while Tasmania had to wait until 1977-78 and even then they were playing half the number of games as the other sides for the first five seasons.
In all that time, the competition remained largely unchanged, with home and away games and the winners being whoever topped the table at the end of it all. The only interruptions came for the two World Wars, and even then cricket continued into the first years of both.
The major revamp came in 1981-82 when, faced by falling crowds and the emergence of one-day cricket, the ACB introduced a five-day final, played between the two sides at the top of the table, to decide who were the champions.
Western Australia remarkably won the title in their first season, although Queensland had a much longer wait, not winning the Sheild until 1994-95 - someone had years before written on the back of it "Qld Never In History" - and that opened the floodgates as they went on to capture four more titles in the next seven seasons. Tasmania chalked up their first win in 2006-07.
By the 1990s the competition was losing large sums of money and in 1999 the ACB announced that it had found a sponsor for the tournament which involved ditching the traditional name. Fundamentalists were outraged, but the competition was relaunched as the Pura Cup, a new trophy was struck and the old shield was put on permanent display at the ACB's offices. To the certain frustration of the new sponsors, the event was still widely referred to as "the Shield" by the public, so much so that in 2008-09 the competition name reverted to the Sheffield Shield.