Cricket Australia

http://www.cricket.com.au/Global Items/Blogs/george-bailey/2013/4/15/shield-win-a-career-highlight

George Bailey


Bailey: Shield win a career highlight

15 April 2013

The schedule available for cricketers currently can be full and fruitful one indeed. No sooner had we finished celebrating hoisting the Sheffield Shield aloft and it was time to head to the UK to start the County season with Hampshire.

A little more about Hampshire later but it would be remiss of me not to relive a few of the highlights from the Shield final.

Firstly, a few people have said to me it was disappointing that Tasmania couldn't win the game outright. A win is, quite obviously, always the outcome that you strive for as a team however, if there was ever a year in which a drawn final was fitting, it was this year. The entire season coming down to the last session of games in the final round and precious few points separating first and sixth.

Once again I think the performances you see in Shield finals bodes well for the game being the centrepiece of the domestic competition.

A century to Jordan Silk in the biggest game of his career, and his second ton from his three games played, undoubtedly highlights his potential to the Australian selectors. His bat will be one they will keep a very close eye on next season.

After missing most of the domestic season the performance of Ryan Harris in both domestic finals has deservedly spring boarded him into national calculations in both the short and long forms.

Luke Butterworth did nothing but enhance his reputation as a big game player with another terrific all- round performance. Despite being continually overlooked for national honours, 'Butts' would be one of the most respected cricketers playing domestically and I know all teams are very wary of his skills with both bat and ball.

His protegé James Faulkner, well as an all-rounder anyway for I am not sure you can compare Butts and Jimmy off the field, capped a breakthrough season with another man of the match performance. Jim's bowling has been of a great standard throughout the year but his batting has sometimes let him down, he rectified this in the final. James sets extremely high standards for himself and his scores and partnerships in both innings, both under extreme pressure showed the character that he brings to the game. Both he and Tim Paine deserved hundreds for their back to the wall efforts in the second innings after Ryan Harris had blasted the Bulls back into the game. It was a tense Tigers change room for a couple of hours on day four, after we felt we had controlled the game since day one.

Whatever comes of my life in cricket, winning that title alongside Ricky Ponting and outgoing coach Tim Coyle will rank very highly. Both have offered so much to Tasmania and to Tasmanian cricket and ensured holding the Shield aloft at the end of the game had some extra special connotations.

No sooner does the domestic season end then players are off to play in the IPL or County competitions. A handful of Australians have arrived over in the UK in time for this weeks first round of Championship games. Not sure how the other boys fared, but I also arrived in time for my first ever training session in the snow. Not something I recommend and the first time I had ever been snowed on...it doesn't even get that cold in Tassie. Our first practice game saw the boys in beanies, gloves and even the odd balaclava in a bid to thwart the icy conditions.

Hampshire have made me feel very welcome right from my arrival. They have had a terrific relationship with Australians over the years, and the feeling in the dressing room reminds me of the Tasmanian rooms a couple of years back. They have an exciting balance of senior experienced players and some highly skilled youngsters who are capable of carrying the club forward in the coming 5-10 years.

The opportunity to experience the game over here - the different conditions, the Dukes ball, a new team- is one I am really looking forward to. Although as I write this the rain tumbles down and a big win first up has been nipped in the bud. One more thing I may have to get used to over the next month or so. 

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia
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