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News

Talk of a dynasty unavoidable for Western Australia's cricket powerhouse

Six men's titles in two seasons has cemented this WA side as the dominant force in the Australian game

Back-to-back: Western Australia celebrate with the Sheffield Shield, Western Australia vs Victoria, Sheffield Shield, Final, WACA, March 26, 2023

Back-to-back: Western Australia celebrate with the Sheffield Shield  •  Getty Images

Not long after Cameron Bancroft's boundary sealed Western Australia's Sheffield Shield title defence, those left marvelling at cricket's undisputed domestic powerhouse were trying to pinpoint their seemingly magical formula for success.
WA's nine-wicket victory over Victoria in the final at the capped their second straight season of capturing a treble of domestic titles when put alongside Perth Scorchers' BBL successes.
Even though the hierarchy at the WACA prefer a measured approach, which is drilled down into their players, talk of a dynasty was unavoidable after WA had won their sixth straight title.
Victoria coach Chris Rogers is perhaps well placed to judge where this WA team stacks up in history having been at the helm of consecutive unsuccessful Shield finals against his home state.
As a gritty opener, Rogers was coming through the WA ranks during the late 1990s when the stacked team was led by legendary skipper Tom Moody and featured Test legends Justin Langer, Adam Gilchrist, Damien Martyn and Mike Hussey amongst others.
He sees parallels with the likes of teenaged Teague Wyllie and emerging allrounder Aaron Hardie destined for international opportunities having played valuable roles in WA's back-to-back Shield triumphs.
"I started playing when we had all the legends under Tom Moody and that was an incredible side and this side is doing great things if not better than that era," Rogers said. "They've got a great squad and amazing depth."
WA's eventual comprehensive triumph masked periods in a see-saw of final where they were seriously challenged by an emerging Victoria looking to kick-start a successful era of their own.
Like they've shown repeatedly in recent years through the various formats, WA proved decisive in key moments especially on day two when they slumped to 4 for 53 in their first innings in reply to Victoria's 195.
On a green-tinged surface against a strong Victoria attack, WA was in a precarious position until composed veteran Ashton Turner came to the rescue with a game-changing cavalier century to restore his team's advantage.
He combined in key partnerships with Hardie, Josh Philippe and Joel Paris to deflate Victoria who could never recover.
"We speak as a group a lot about key moments in games and a theme for this week was 'walk towards the pressure'," said Paris, who combined with Turner in an invaluable 105-run partnership while also taking five wickets for the match.
"They put a lot of pressure on us. Ash and I spoke about how we wanted to keep them out there as long as possible. We cashed in on the back end and got us to the lead which made it really tough for them."
WA's sustained success has been built around a local core and continuity with the only change from last year's title-winning side being Turner replacing recently retired Shaun Marsh.
"All of us are from WA originally. A lot of the players have played together or against each other since we were playing Under 9s and 10s," Paris said. "When you're on the road as much as we are throughout the season, the closeness of the group is super important.
"We understand each other as cricketers and people better than anyone and that certainly goes a long way when we're out in the middle."
The tight knit nature of the playing group memorably reared when Turner reached his first Shield century in more than five years, triggering raw emotion from his teammates in the dressing room.
"My favourite moment was seeing AT score a hundred," said Bancroft, who was part of all three titles this season. "It's been a big journey for him in red-ball cricket. He spoke that morning [on day two] about being really brave and taking the game on, which is what he does best. To watch that come into action was pretty special and something all the team is proud of."
The camaraderie is a far cry from the dark days of WA cricket in the 2000s during a period marked by ill-discipline and little silverware leading to the recruitment of Langer as coach in 2012.
"We've been building for some time. [The turnaround] probably started when JL came on board and he showed the core group of players that we have now what it truly means to be professional athletes and professional cricketers," Paris said. "Winning Shield titles is so hard. We've identified this as a special group....I'm really lucky to be a part of."
While WA's players were diplomatic of their feats as per the organisation's well-worn mantra, the revelry was starting to kick-in from the terraces with those involved savouring this new golden era.
"Six titles in a couple of years is pretty unheard of. The challenge is to keep being consistent," Bancroft said. "But that's not a conversation for today. We'll enjoy tonight and this win."

Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth