New South Wales veteran Brad Haddin says their victory over South Australia on Sunday in their final Ryobi One-Day Cup match for the season was just reward for the hard work the team had put in for the second half of the domestic summer.
The Blues defeated the Redbacks by 18 runs in their final limited-overs contest of the summer and in the process halted the SA side from progressing to defend their title against Victoria.
Haddin was the star for NSW with a blistering 125 that included a stunning 17 boundaries and three sixes, and lifted the Blues' total to 8-266.
Chasing 267 for victory, the Redbacks fell short on 248 following impressive bowling from pace duo Shaun Abbott (3-48) and Gurinder Sandhu (3-55).
The win was the Blues' third in a row and could have potentially pushed them into the domestic day-night final had they restricted the Redbacks to 133 and claimed a double bonus-point.
Haddin said consecutive victories late in the season showed the progress and development in a NSW side littered with young, emerging stars.
"It was always good to get the result. I think our guys over the last couple of weeks have started to learn and understand one-day cricket," Haddin said.
"We've got a couple of really young guys that have developed over the last few weeks and learnt how to play this form of the game.
"The only way you win these games is if you do the hard work and the basics well.
"It (the win) is just reward for all the work they've put in."
Despite a streak of good form that gave the Blues every chance of qualifying for the final, Haddin felt the nine-time domestic one-day champions did not deserve to appear in the competition decider.
The veteran wicketkeeper suggested NSW left their run too late after a winless start.
"We probably didn't deserve to be in the final," Haddin conceded.
"We didn't play great cricket at the start of the year ... we probably got what we deserved.
"We weren't one of the most consistent teams in this competition but the pleasing thing is we are starting to learn and that's the main thing.
"If we can carry that over to next year then maybe we will play a bit more consistent cricket at the start of the year."
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia
First Posted 18 February, 2013 9:50AM AEST