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A brief history of Queensland

Sam Collins with a brief history of Queensland

Sam Collins

First-class debut 1893
Admitted to Sheffield Shield 1926-27
Sheffield Shield/Pura Cup 1994-95, 1996-97, 1999-2000, 2000-01, 2001-02, 2005-06
One-day cup 1975-76, 1980-81, 1981-82, 1988-89, 1995-96, 1997-98

It took Queensland 62 years to win the Sheffield Shield for the first time, but they have not looked back since that maiden success, dominating the domestic scene in Australia over the last decade. They were only admitted to the competition, after much pleading, in 1926-27, and had proved perennial bridesmaids, second four times in five years at one stage in the mid-seventies, making the victorious campaign of 1994-95 long overdue.
Cricket in Queensland can be traced as far back as 1864, when they played New South Wales for the first time, oddly enough in the middle of the Australian winter. A Queensland XXII went down to a NSW XI, with Queensland recording 11 ducks in their second innings and both sides having difficulties avoiding the copious potholes in the outfield. The Queensland Cricket Association was formed in 1876, but their geographical location made it impractical for them to join in as the game progressed further south, and they did not play host to South Australia until 1899 or Victoria until 1902.
Even in these early years Queenslanders took umbrage at the vagaries of the Australian selectors, claiming, as they do today, that their players must do more than any others to force international selection. Many talented players went unnoticed, putting into perspective the achievements of Roger Hartigan, an elegant strokeplayer cum Brisbane auctioneer, who scored a hundred on Test debut in 1908.
As transport links across Australia improved, cricket in Queensland began to progress further, and they joined the Sheffield Shield in 1926-27. They struggled until well after the war, but these early years in the state's Shield history were still littered with great players. There was Peter Burge, who scored 22 state centuries, the ironically named 'Slasher' Ken Mackay, Peter Allan, who took all ten wickets against Victoria in 1966, and Don Tallon, still regarded as one of Australia's finest ever wicketkeepers. Imports also have a place in Queensland's history, notably Wes Hall from the West Indies, and Greg Chappell, who came from slightly closer to home when he made the move from South Australia.
Gradually Queensland became more competitive, and they were runners up six times in 11 seasons before Allan Border steered them to their first Shield in 1994-95. In doing so Border, in his last season before retirement, ended Australian sport's most famous losing streak and cruellest joke. The captain Ian Healy continued the state's tradition of fine wicketkeepers, and over the course of the next decade Matthew Hayden would mature into arguably the finest opening batsman in the world. Much of Queensland's subsequent success was built on a rock solid top-order of Hayden, Jimmy Maher and Stuart Law and their most recent victory in 2005-06 meant they had won the Shield six times in 12 years and established a firm grip on the domestic game.

Sam Collins is a freelance journalist based in London