The defending Bupa Sheffield Shield champions travel to Brisbane to defend their crown starting Friday. Here are five reasons why the men from the Apple Isle will be winners.
Tasmania boasts at least five players from last year’s final in their squad who defeated NSW by seven wickets. That experience under pressure will provide a calming influence over the rest of the team, who almost held their nerve in one of the greatest domestic one-day finals ever this season.
2. Bowling weapons
One of the new recruits for the Tigers has been New South Welshman Jackson Bird, who has taken 48 wickets from just seven games at an astonishing average of 15.75. He currently sits 24th on the all-time list of wicket-takers in a single Shield season, and only needs seven wickets to join West Indian great Joel Garner on 55 when he feasted on Australian batsmen during the 1982/83 season. Couple Bird with James Faulkner and Luke Butterworth and you can see why the Tigers have blasted through many batting orders this summer.
3. Last start winners
Tasmania figured out how to defeat Queensland back in February when they defeated the Bulls by eight wickets at Hobart. Jackson Bird tore through the visitors with nine wickets and Ed Cowan (77no) and George Bailey (57no) guided the hosts to victory. The wicket probably won’t be as lush up there in the sunshine state, but the Tigers know how to win now.
4. The Ponting factor.
George Bailey’s rise to T20 International captain and one-day batsman has seen him selected to travel to the West Indies, leaving a big dent in the Tigers’ middle order. Fortunately, Tasmania has found a suitable replacement…only the greatest Test run-scorer in Australia’s history! Coming off a last-start century, Ponting has been in terrific touch since returning to the Apple Isle, scoring 75 not out in the Ryobi One-Day Cup final and 111 against WA in Perth. His form, experience and presence are a major plus for the Tigers, giving them a clear edge.
5. Doing it for Boonie
On 29 December 1960, God himself gave the world a late Christmas gift in the form of David Clarence Boon. Weighing in at 15.7kg (4.5kg if you minus his moustache), Boonie was born to do one thing: belt bowling attacks from pillar to post the world over. His illustrious 350 game first-class career endured many highs and few lows, one of the latter being no Sheffield Shield for his beloved state. These days, Tasmania says a little prayer before each final they contest, hoping to repay the man that put Tasmanian cricket on the map, literally. If Tasmania win, it won’t be because of the bowling, or the batting, or the fielding. It won’t be because of Ponting or Cowan, Bird or Faulkner. It will be because the spirit of Tasmanian cricket will be smiling down from up above, in the air-conditioned corporate box whilst sipping on a cold XXXX.
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia