The usual suspect
Overlooked for a Test debut this summer, the South Australia seamer is on track to produce one of the most prolific Sheffield Shield campaigns in the competition's 124-year history. Sayers passed the 50-wicket mark for the 2016-17 Shield season in the Redbacks’ recent win over the Bulls and could well eclipse Colin Miller’s all-time benchmark of 67 scalps at his current rate. With 217 first-class wickets at 23.17 for his career, the 29-year-old is making a compelling case for national selection.
Leading the competition’s run-scoring charts, Bailey has been a rare shining light for Tasmania this summer. Having only been dismissed in single digits three times in 13 hits and with six scores in excess of 50, the Tigers have constantly relied on their skipper’s 759 Shield runs to bail them out of trouble this season. Bailey notched his maiden Sheffield Shield double-century in Tasmania’s recent draw with NSW to go past Joe Burns as the competition’s standout run-scorer. With two games left, the 1000-run mark isn’t out of the equation for the former Australia limited-overs captain.
The surprise packets
The New Zealand-born Somerville finished last season with three NSW spinners ahead of him in the pecking order, but has stood up this summer to become one of the standout Sheffield Shield slow-bowlers. While Test tweakers Nathan Lyon, Steve O’Keefe and youngster Arjun Nair were all picked ahead of him at stages last season, Somerville has become the main man with a remarkable 31 scalps in just five four-day matches in 2016-17, including four five-wicket hauls. The off-spinner now looms as one of the Blues’ key figures at the business end of the Shield season.
Another player who seemingly faced an uphill battle at the season’s outset for a spot in his side's XI, the towering Western Australian has had a superb summer for the Warriors. With the likes of Joel Paris, Jason Behrendorff and Nathan Coulter-Nile all spending time on the sidelines with injury, Mackin has become the most reliable Warriors paceman and snared four five-wicket hauls in as many innings earlier in the season. The right-armer’s breakout campaign could well have him on the radar for higher honours.
The impact man
While 14 wickets in his first four Shield games of the season was no lean return, Behrendorff stunned the competition by doubling his wicket tally in just one game on his return from injury. The left-arm paceman led the Warriors to a two-day win over the Bushrangers over the weekend with stunning hauls of 9-37 and 5-52 to snag the ninth-best match figures (14-89) in Shield history. Behrendorff’s bowling strike-rate is far and away the best in the competition (minimum three games) and he hopes to stay on the park following injury troubles in recent seasons.