QUEENSLAND won the Sheffield Shield for the ninth time as they secured an innings-and-33-run victory over New South Wales in a final they dominated from start to finish.
It was only a matter of time when play resumed on the fourth day – at the very early time of 8.54am – with New South Wales five down in their second innings still more than 100 runs behind and the winning moment came when Josh Hazlewood edged Brendan Doggett.
Mitchell Swepson claimed three of the remaining wickets needed during a probing spell of legspin having previously seen Queensland’s quicks take all the rewards.
The game had been set up on the opening day when New South Wales, who opted to bat first, were bowled out for 143 before Marnus Labuschagne compiled a nine-hour 192, but Usman Khawaja admitted he had been uncertain what to do had the toss gone his way
“Even at the start I was looking to bat first. I had no idea what to do, wasn’t sure all night,” Khawaja told Fox Cricket. “Then I was going to win the toss and bowl, but even then I wasn’t sure, so when KP [Kurtis Patterson] won the toss and batted I was like ‘thank you, don’t have to make that decision’. It took a bit off my mind, told the bowlers no pressure on you now, just need to execute our skills and they did it beautifully.
“It wasn’t a very easy wicket at the start on the first day, it was hard to drive, but you still have to execute and our bowlers did it beautifully – exactly what I’ve asked of them. Put plenty of pressure on the Blues’ boys and in a Shield final you can’t ask much more in the first session, first hour and first day.”
“Marnus was unbelievable, the only fifty in the match and it was 180-odd ,” he added. “He’s on fire…credit to Marnus and all the guys who batted around him.”
Michael Neser, who set up Queensland’s stranglehold on the opening day with a five-wicket haul, made the first breakthrough on the fourth morning when Sean Abbott edged to second slip with just two runs added to the overnight total.
Baxter Holt, one of youngsters brought into the New South Wales side for the latter part of the season, and Mitchell Starc resisted for 19 overs to raise the prospect of Queensland needing to bat again before Swepson made his incisions.
Holt missed a sweep and was struck on the back leg in front of middle stump and then Trent Copeland nicked a perfect leg-break to the keeper.
Starc continued to resist, taking his innings beyond 100 balls, but lost Nathan Lyon when he edged Swepson to slip where Usman Khawaja plucked out the catch high to his right.
With nine wickets down lunch would have been delayed but that wasn’t required when Doggett, who was impressive in the second innings, lured Hazlewood into having a nibble outside off to send Queensland and the crowd – which passed 10,000 across the four days – into wild celebrations to end the longest season on record. (Cricinfo)