Sheffield Shield team of the season (so far)
1. Marcus Harris - Victoria
Matches: 5 | Runs: 480 runs | Average: 60.00 | HS: 115
Having made the move to Victoria over the winter, Harris was farewelled by Justin Langer by having his efforts summed up by the Western Australia coach as "mediocre with flashes of brilliance". But the opener has hardly put a foot wrong with his new state, against whom he’d proved his mettle during the 2014-15 Sheffield Shield final where he struck 82 and 158 not out. Harris showed glimpses of why the Bushrangers had recruited him during a promising Matador BBQs One-Day Cup campaign but he announced himself in style with a century in his first Shield match for Victoria. The left-hander has since passed 50 a further four times and has scored his 480 runs - presently the largest tally in the competition - at a decent clip too; his strike-rate of 71.53 is the highest among the top-20 leading run makers.
2. Jake Weatherald - South Australia
Matches: 5 | Runs: 391 runs | Average: 48.87 | HS: 135
One of a few new faces in the South Australia side that helped propelled them to a top-placed finish in last season’s Sheffield Shield, Weatherald has made a promising start to his first-class career. The left-hander fell four runs short of a maiden ton in that Shield decider and the Redbacks ultimately surrendered the title to Victoria. But Weatherald passed triple-figures for the first time in blazing fashion last month, notching the milestone on his 22nd birthday before finishing with 135 off just 177 balls. The aggressive opener holds an impressive first-class batting average of 44.06 from his nine matches and will surely be on the radar of national selectors if he maintains that.
3. Usman Khawaja (captain) - Queensland
Matches: 3 | Runs: 432 runs | Average: 72.00 | HS: 157
Australia’s Test No.3 has oozed class in his trio of Shield games this season. Khawaja’s 79 in Queensland’s season-opener was enough to win back his Test spot but after Australia’s crippling innings defeat to South Africa in Hobart, every member of the Test side (bar the quicks) was made to play in the third round of Shield games with positions up for grabs. He responded by striking a sparkling 106 against the Redbacks and after being left out of Australia’s one-day international squad for the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy, the Bulls skipper went on to crunch 151 and 61 at the WACA. Despite only having played three matches, Khawaja sits second among the competition’s leading run-scorers.
4. Peter Handscomb - Victoria
Matches: 4 | Runs: 410 runs | Average: 68.33 | HS: 215
A stellar start to the Shield season saw Handscomb whisked into the Test side as one of three debutants in Adelaide following Australia’s loss to the Proteas in the preceding match in Hobart. The right-hander, who’s been touted as one of the finest players of spin-bowling in the country, effectively sealed a berth in the Baggy Green with a marathon double-century against a quality NSW attack. Not only was his 215 a supreme demonstration of his skills with the blade, the knock came in a highly-scrutinised round of Shield games with a Test spots up for grabs. Handscomb also stood in as skipper for the Bushrangers in their recent clash with Tasmania but they could well be without him for much of the remainder of the summer with a Test tour to India looming early next year.
5. Cameron White - Victoria
Matches: 4 | Runs: 378 runs | Average: 75.60 | HS: 104*
The former Bushrangers and Australia T20 skipper kick-started his summer with a superb Matador Cup campaign and has since carried that form in the Shield season. In eight hits so far, White has been dismissed for fewer than 20 just three times. He’s passed 50 on four occasions, not bad considering he’s batted higher than No.6 just once. His unbeaten 104 against Queensland, the right-hander’s 20th first-class ton, to propel Victoria to an innings win at the MCG was a particular highlight. For his efforts, he slots into No.5 in our team of Shield season so far.
6. Ashton Turner - Western Australia
Matches: 4 | Runs: 429 runs | Average: 71.50 | HS: 110
With more than 400 runs before Christmas for the bottom-of-the-table Warriors, the 2016-17 Shield season looks to have the makings of a breakout campaign for Turner. Coming into the summer, the right-hander had scored 377 runs in 11 matches for Western Australia. He’s since more than doubled that tally. Overlooked for WA’s first Shield match of the season, Turner’s first two Shield tons both came with his side under the pump. His maiden first-class century, a knock of 110 against Tasmania at the WACA, came after he arrived at the crease with WA 4-40. And he repeated the rescue act two games later when he took the Warriors from 4-47 to 265 with an even hundred against Queensland. As a more-than-handy off-spinner to boot, Turner looks to have a bright future.
7. Peter Nevill (wicketkeeper) - NSW
Matches: 4 | Runs: 240 runs | Average: 40.00 | HS: 179* | Dismissals: 16
In what’s been a lean season to date for glovemen, Nevill just gets the nod over South Australia wicketkeeper Alex Carey (269 runs from five matches with three 50s and a competition-leading 28 dismissals) thanks to his monster century against Tasmania. His unbeaten 179 came right after he’d lost his spot in the Australia Test side, striking 21 boundaries to put the Tigers to the sword in Hobart. But aside from that knock, it’s been largely slim pickings for the 31-year-old, having only passed 20 on one other occasion in seven hits for the Blues this summer. However, thanks to his exemplary work behind the pegs, a few more big scores will undoubtedly have Nevill back in national contention.
8. Chris Tremain - Victoria
Matches: 5 | Wickets: 27 | Average: 17.55 | Best bowling: 4-22
A bustling fast bowler with a slightly unusual whippy action, Tremain has followed up a breakthrough 2015-16 Shield campaign with a superb start to this summer with the red ball. His 36 wickets at a tick over 21 last season saw him win a spot on Australia’s ODI tour to South Africa in October. The Dubbo-born quick has been integral to Victoria’s success this summer; he’s taken at least four wickets in each of their five matches, helping them remain undefeated at the competition’s halfway point.
9. Jackson Bird - Tasmania
Matches: 4 | Wickets: 18 | Average: 26.05 | Best bowling: 6-134
His first Shield match of the summer was billed as a ‘bowl-off’ with fellow quick Peter Siddle for Australia’s summer-opening Test and while he lost out to the Victorian on that occasion, Bird found himself back in the Baggy Green for the third Test against the Proteas. The tall right-armer hasn’t taken more than three wickets in an innings so far this summer but nonetheless sits fifth on the wicket-taking table at the halfway point of the Shield season. Bird was named as Tasmania’s stand-in captain for their last match before the break and was an lbw shout away from leading the Tigers to their second win of the summer.
10. Chadd Sayers - South Australia
Matches: 5 | Wickets: 29 | Average: 18.58 | Best bowling: 6-32
The Redbacks quick has been barging the door down at domestic level for a number of years and has again had the ball on a string this summer. What Sayers lacks in velocity he makes up for with his accuracy and subtle movement, and an 11-wicket haul against Tasmania was enough to see him named in Australia’s squad for the third Test against South Africa. He was released back to play with South Australia after being named 12th man but his 11th career five-wicket haul against the Blues in the final match before the BBL break has the Shield’s leading wicket-taker breathing down Jackson Bird’s neck for the third seamer spot in the Test side.
11. Jon Holland - Victoria
Matches: 5 | Wickets: 27 | Average: 18.48 | Best bowling: 5-49
Having made his Test debut on Australia’s ill-fated tour of Sri Lanka in August, Holland has continued his strong domestic form and has been the standout spin bowler from the first half of the Shield season. A left-arm tweaker who relies more on drift and flight than prodigious turn, Holland has snagged four or more wickets in an innings on four separate occasions already this season. He looks to have repaid the faith the Victorian selectors have shown in him, as leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed, with 75 Shield wickets to his name from the previous two Shield summers, remains waiting in the wings for the Bushrangers.
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