The final four rounds of the Sheffield Shield have flown by, with the final (to be played between Victoria and New South Wales) almost upon us.
It’s been a summer of change, in many ways, with plenty of outstanding performers.
1. Marcus Harris (VIC)
1024 runs, 68.3 average, two hundreds, highest 250*
One of the easiest selections of the lot.
Ever since his massive double hundred against the Blues at the MCG, Harris has become a household name. The classy left-hander punched two tons and six fifties from just 16 innings, and looks set for a long career in Australian colours.
2. Joe Burns (QLD)
685 runs, 38.1 average, six fifties, highest 96
The other opening spot could have gone to a handful of batsmen – it seems the most prolific scorers this season were all openers!
However, I’ve given Burns the nod purely for the fact his form was enough to earn a Test recall, and score a Test ton while at it.
His total runs and average was very similar to NSW pair Nick Larkin and Daniel Hughes, but Burns went at a significantly better clip, important for these four day encounters.
3. Kurtis Patterson (NSW)
629 runs, 39.3 average, two hundreds, highest 134
Another member of the side who was catapulted into the Test side on the back of a brilliant summer. Patterson was ultra-consistent this season and finally cash in on the potential that saw him hit 157 on debut as an 18 year old.
These numbers don’t include the twin hundreds he scored against the Sri Lankans either, where he scored 157* and 102*. A fabulous summer for the left-hander.
4. Will Pucovski (VIC)
581 runs, 58.1 average, two hundreds, highest 243
Pucovski only played six matches but boy, did he have an impact. A magical 243 before Christmas got tongues wagging before some time out of the game was required due to mental health reasons.
In the second match back from his return he hit an unbeaten 131, showing his late 2018 form was far from a fluke. It’s not the last you’ll be hearing of this man.
5. Nic Maddinson (VIC)
563 runs, 80.4 average, three hundreds, highest 162
Three games, three hundreds. That’s how Nic Maddinson started his Sheffield Shield career with Victoria, something not achieved since the great Sir Don moved to South Australia.
Maddinson might have had an even bigger year, had his arm not been shattered by Jhye Richardson pre-Christmas and then fractured his thumb against South Australia in round 10.
6. Matthew Wade (TAS)
1021 runs, 60.1 average, two hundreds, highest 137
An absolute no-brainer. A massive year from a heavily-improved player. States have had very little luck getting him out, and the BBL sides didn’t fare much better. Simply has to go to England.
7. Michael Neser (QLD)
481 runs, 43.7 average, five fifties, highest 76*
33 wickets, average 23, best 5-15
This might come as a shock to some, but Neser, the Bulls’ new-ball bowler, finished with the highest batting average in the Queensland squad. It was a stellar season for the all-rounder, who has been a recent member of touring Australian squads, including playing two ODIs in England in June.
He swings the ball prodigiously and could be a sneaky chance to find his way into the Ashes squad.
8. Jhye Richardson (WA)
147 runs, 29.4 average, highest 55
27 wickets, average 19, best 8-47
Richardson might consider himself a little lucky to get the nod as he only played five games, but his impact was so large I felt I just had to slot him in.
He smashed the in-form Maddinson’s arm, he took eight-fa against NSW and he debuted for Tests, as well as establishing himself as a one-day bowler for Australia.
Plus, he hit two fifties and averaged nearly 30 with the bat. And he’s still only played 13 first-class matches.
I’m in love with this kid.
9. Trent Copeland (NSW)
193 runs, 21.4 average, one fifty, highest 55*
44 wickets, average 18.7, best 6-86
It was the return of the old Trent Copeland this summer, having his most productive season since 2010-11, the very one which helped him to a Test debut in the following months. Copes was his usual miserly self, but also took the third-most poles in the competition.
Far from a mug with the bat either, Copeland has batted as high as seven and an average of 21 is nothing to be sneezed at.
10. Jackson Bird (TAS)
50 wickets, average 22.2, best 7-59
Jackson Bird was absolutely brilliant, putting together a Sheffield Shield season of 50 wickets, the second time he’s reached that total, and only the second player to do it twice, after Andy Bichel (three times).
Where do you start with Bird? On every surface, against every opponent he looked dangerous, and naturally finished with the most five-wicket hauls (four) and the most ten-wicket matches (two).
Bird was named the Captains’ MVP as each captain voted 5-4-3-2-1 after every match.
11. Scott Boland (VIC)
45 wickets, average 19.8, best 7-54
Scott Boland gets the nod as I’ve selected no specialist spinner. The top 13 bowlers in the competition were pacemen, so for an accurate reflection of the ‘summer that was’, there’s no tweaker.
However, Boland is more than deserving, and in fact was named the Sheffield Shield Player of the Year on Wednesday.