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A history of the Sheffield Shield

Martin Williamson outlines the history of the Sheffield Shield/Pura Cup

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.

Sheffield Shield

1892-93 Victoria
1893-94 South Australia
1894-95 Victoria
1895-96 New South Wales
1896-97 New South Wales
1897-98 Victoria
1898-99 Victoria
1899-00 New South Wales
1900-01 Victoria
1901-02 New South Wales
1902-03 New South Wales
1903-04 New South Wales
1904-05 New South Wales
1905-06 New South Wales
1906-07 New South Wales
1907-08 Victoria
1908-09 New South Wales
1909-10 South Australia
1910-11 New South Wales
1911-12 New South Wales
1912-13 South Australia
1913-14 New South Wales
1914-15 South Australia
1915-19 No competition
1919-20 New South Wales
1920-21 New South Wales
1921-22 Victoria
1922-23 New South Wales
1923-24 Victoria
1924-25 Victoria
1925-26 New South Wales
1926-27 South Australia
1927-28 Victoria
1928-29 New South Wales
1929-30 Victoria
1930-31 Victoria
1931-32 New South Wales
1932-33 New South Wales
1933-34 Victoria
1934-35 Victoria
1935-36 South Australia
1936-37 Victoria
1937-38 New South Wales
1938-39 South Australia
1939-40 New South Wales
1940-45 No competition
1945-46 Victoria
1946-47 Western Australia
1948-49 New South Wales
1949-50 New South Wales
1950-51 Victoria
1951-52 New South Wales
1952-53 South Australia
1953-54 New South Wales
1954-55 New South Wales
1955-56 New South Wales
1956-57 New South Wales
1957-58 New South Wales
1958-59 New South Wales
1959-60 New South Wales
1960-61 New South Wales
1961-62 New South Wales
1962-63 Victoria
1963-64 South Australia
1964-65 New South Wales
1965-66 New South Wales
1966-67 Victoria
1967-68 Western Australia
1968-69 South Australia
1969-70 Victoria
1970-71 South Australia
1971-72 Western Australia
1972-73 Western Australia
1973-74 Victoria
1974-75 Western Australia
1975-76 South Australia
1976-76 Western Australia
1977-78 Western Australia
1978-79 Victoria
1979-80 Victoria
1980-81 Western Australia
1981-82 South Australia
1982-83 New South Wales
1983-84 Western Australia
1984-85 New South Wales
1985-86 New South Wales
1986-87 Western Australia
1987-88 Western Australia
1988-89 Western Australia
1989-90 New South Wales
1990-91 Victoria
1991-92 Western Australia
1992-93 New South Wales
1993-94 New South Wales
1994-95 Queensland
1995-96 South Australia
1996-97 Queensland
1997-98 Western Australia
1998-99 Western Australia
1999-00 Queensland
2000-01 Queensland
2001-02 Queensland
2002-03 New South Wales
2003-04 Victoria
2004-05 New South Wales
2005-06 Queensland
2006-07 Tasmania
2007-08 New South Wales
2008-09 Victoria
2009-10 Victoria
2010-11 Tasmania
2011-12 Queensland

Martin Williamson is managing editor of Cricinfo