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Your guide to the final round of Shield action

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(Championspk)The pink balls have been put away, there’s one round to go and four teams are still in the hunt for a top-two finish and a Sheffield Shield final berth.

This season has been one of the tightest on record, with half the competition equal on 26 points, and New South Wales and Western Australia to face off against each other in the last round.8behrendorff

If, at the end of the final round, more than one side is equal on points, the team with the highest number of outright wins will go above. If both sides have the same number of outright wins, then the quotient comes into play.

Bare with us here.

A step-by-step guide to calculating the quotient value

Step 1: Divide the total number of runs scored by a team by the total number of wickets lost by them. That’s value ‘a’.

Step 2: Divide the total number of runs scored against said team by the total number of wickets taken. That’s value ‘b’.

Step 3: Divide value ‘a’ by value ‘b’.

And there you have it.

To save you the trouble of figuring all that out by yourself, here’s our comprehensive guide to the last round of the Sheffield Shield season.

NSW Blues vs Alcohol. Think Again Warriors at Manuka Oval

In short: An outright win for either team secures them a place in the final while a loss throws things up in the air.

Last week

New South Wales enter this crucial encounter with the momentum, hanging on for first-innings points in their draw against South Australia and pulling up level with the Redbacks and Western Australia at the top of the table.

Despite sitting pretty atop the Shield ladder, the Warriors’ batsmen will be feeling far from comfortable, having been bowled out for less than 200 in both innings of their outright loss to Queensland.

Team news

Steve Smith will be back for New South Wales, returning from his starring role in Australia’s series win over South Africa to bolster the Blues middle order.

Nathan Lyon will also be available for selection but, with off-spinner Steven O’Keefe picking up 11 wickets at Adelaide Oval, his selection in the eleven is far from guaranteed.

Blues allrounder Moises Henriques will remain in South Africa for the T20 series to cover the departure of Mitchell Johnson, who returns home to rest ahead of this month’s ICC Twenty20 World Cup in Bangladesh.

After struggling against Queensland, Western Australia will rush Shaun Marsh back into the fold. The left-hander offers some much-needed experience to a top-three that managed just 28 runs between them across both innings at the Gabba.

The older Marsh sibling is likely to replace the younger, with Mitch Marsh suffering a side strain while bowling against the Bulls.

What if…

NSW wins outright… The Blues make the final while WA hope Tasmania shut out the Redbacks and the Vics avoid an outright defeat against the Bulls.

WA wins outright… Western Australia lock in a home Shield final and, barring a huge South Australian defeat, New South Wales are out of the running.

NSW claims first-innings points but WA wins outright… The Warriors have their home final, while the Blues need the Bushrangers to avoid another outright loss and the Redbacks to leave the Apple Isle empty-handed.

NSW claims first innings points in a draw… Everything’s up in the air. NSW go top of the table, but can be knocked out all together if Queensland wins outright and the Redbacks pick up two points or more.

WA claims first-innings points but NSW wins outright… New South Wales go top of the table, guaranteeing them a place in the final, while the Warriors will be cheering on Victoria and Tasmania.

WA claim first innings points in a draw… The Blues are out of the running but the Warriors aren’t assured of a place either, with first innings points to the Redbacks and an outright win to the Bulls knocking out the current league leaders.

Tasmanian Tigers vs West End Redbacks at Blundstone Arena

In short: Tasmania’s draw last round means they’re no longer a chance to make the final, while the Redbacks need an outright victory to avoid putting their destiny in someone else’s hands.

Last week

Tasmania and South Australia found themselves on opposite ends of hard-fought draws last round with the Tigers’ tail holding out a desperate Victorian side and the Redbacks falling one wicket shy of a Shield-final-securing win against New South Wales.

Team news

Tigers stalwart Alex Doolan is back in the frame to bat at three; his selection all the more likely given Tasmania’s brittle top-order display against cellar-dwellers Victoria.

News isn’t as good for South Australia, who may be without captain and leading wicket-taker Johan Botha after he was cited, and given a one match suspension, for ball-tampering and breaching the code of behaviour during their nail-biting draw with the Blues.

While Botha pleaded guilty in the first instance, he questioned the severity of the punishment and went on to appeal the verdict.

The Redbacks will know by Monday whether his appeal has been successful.

Phil Hughes will return for the boys in red however, the Shield run-scoring machine freed from international duties and looking to build on his impressive start to the domestic season.

Despite playing just the five matches, Hughes has more than 500 runs at an average of 61 with three centuries – the equal most in the competition.

What if…

TAS wins outright… South Australia will be hoping the Bulls don’t win outright in Melbourne while hoping the Warriors and Blues can’t both pick up points from their encounter. The Tigers will most likely still finish fifth.

SA wins outright… They’re into the final and, as long as WA don’t win outright, they’ll also be hosting. Tasmania finishes fifth.

TAS claims first innings points but SA wins outright… Same as above.

TAS claims first innings points in a draw… We have the same outcome as if the Tigers won outright.

SA claims first innings points but TAS wins outright… They’ll most likely play in the final, with an outright win from Queensland the only thing that can knock them out.

SA claims first innings points in a draw… Same as above.

Commonwealth Bank Bushrangers vs XXXX Gold Queensland Bulls

In short: Nothing less than an outright victory will do for the Bulls, while the Bushrangers are looking to end a tough season on a high.

Last match

James Hopes, Luke Feldman and Michael Neser tore through the Warriors’ top order at the Gabba, the medium-pacers sharing in 17 of their side’s 20 wickets.

On the other side of the coin, Peter Forrest, Usman Khawaja and Chris Lynn are peaking at just the right to time, with a 15th Shield final in 20 years a distinct possibility.

At the MCG, the Vics were unable to pick up their first home win of the season, only taking two wickets in the last day to draw with Tasmania.

Team news

Luke Pomersbach will come back into a confident Queensland side, having recovered from the lower back injury that kept him out of their clash against the Warriors.

The Bulls have one of the most settled sides in the land heading into the final round, with the world’s second best bowler, Ryan Harris, and international fringe player Ben Cutting the only men missing from their best eleven.

With a number of big names out, and their first wooden spoon in 19 years all but guaranteed, Victoria will be testing their young charges with an eye to a possible list reshuffle in 2014/15.

What if…

VIC wins outright… Queensland stays in fourth and the Bushrangers finish their season on a high.

QLD wins outright… They have a chance of making the final, but they need South Australia to lose outright to Tasmania.

VIC claims first innings points but QLD wins outright… Same as above.

Anything else… The Bulls finish fourth and start looking forward to 2014/15.

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