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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Ruthven

"Still the best": Sheffield Shield Competition still producing

Former cricketer Bryce McGain says he has ‘never been more buoyant’ about the Sheffield Shield tournament after seeing WA and Victoria battle it out for a place in the final this week. 

In tough conditions, WA came out on top, defeating the hosts at Junction Oval by 138 runs at Junction Oval. 

As a result, the West Australians will host Tasmania in the final at the WACA Ground, in search of its third consecutive title win. 

After the display of cricket on a lively Junction Oval wicket, McGain told SportFM Shield cricket was no longer a ‘development’ competition and worthy of respect. 

I've never been more buoyant about Sheffield Shield cricket. I think it really is preparing players for the next level,” he said.

“It's still the best one in the world. There's no doubt we can put a head on the pillow tonight and know that every player out there is finding this a real challenge. It's not easy and that's when Sheffield Shield is at its best. 

“It's no longer a development competition that we probably disrespected a few years back. It's now at its very best and the players that are finding that. They're finding the challenges and fighting their way through and that's a good sign for Australian cricket all over.”

The final day of the Shield season presented some astonishing circumstances, with then-table toppers Tasmania getting beaten by South Australia by 134 runs. 

With WA surging to the top of the table and locking in a home-final advantage, McGain believes WA has the upper hand.

“WA was a chance to host the final or miss out completely. What a bizarre situation that is for the season,” he said. 

“There's depth there and Hardie to come back and bowl and potentially some others as well may be able to slide back into the lineup. 

“I think they're well on the way to securing a three-peat which is just quite remarkable given how competitive Shield cricket is.” 

It was an incredible bowling performance that ensured WA came out on top in its must-win clash away from home.

Former Queenslander Cameron Gannon came away with Man of the Match after a terrific performance with the ball - including his first five-wicket haul for Western Australia. 

Fellow bowler Liam Haskett also delivered, taking three wickets in each inning on a tricky pitch. 

“The bowlers have still got to be skilful enough to do that and one of the players I want to point out is Cameron Gannon,” said McGain.

“I thought he was superb. Joel Paris we're well aware can bowl well. I was impressed with Haskett. But Cameron Gannon, who was adjudicated the player of the match, his five wickets in the first innings and he spoke so well on the broadcast. 

“He spoke so well about what the plan and openly what the plan was to keep the stumps in play and he continued to do so and I think that was probably the difference in the end. They did that for longer. But Gannon was a real highlight.”

IMAGE: ESPN Cricinfo


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