Top 30 Shield seasons of the past 30 years: 10-6
We’re into the top 10 of our count down of the 30 best individual seasons in the Sheffield Shield from the past 30 years with some big runs on the board
2 October 2020, 05:18 PM AEST
10) Jackson Bird (Tas), 2011-12
Matches: 8 | Wickets: 53 | Ave: 16.00 | 5wi: 5 | BBM: 11-95
Only West Indian pace legend Joel Garner has taken more wickets in as few matches across the past 80 years as Jackson Bird managed in what was his rookie Sheffield Shield season.
Bird left Sydney for Tasmania in search of opportunity and when the Tigers gambled on the tall right-armer, he very quickly proved himself a hand worth playing.
After a wicket in each innings on debut, Bird went on a tear, the unheralded quick surprising batsmen all over Australia with the full arsenal: pace, swing, seam, bounce and consistency.
He announced himself with 5-35 and 5-61 against Victoria, twice capturing the prized wickets of Chris Rogers, David Hussey and Cameron White.
Eleven wickets came in two matches against New South Wales (between which he missed three games with injury), before Bird terrorised Queensland (nine wickets) and WA (11) to propel Tasmania into their second consecutive final.
They lost by three wickets but Bird claimed another five victims and had made his Test debut before the year was out.
9) Adam Voges (WA), 2014-15
Matches: 11 | Runs: 1,358 | Ave: 104.46 | 100s: 6 | HS: 249
It only took the biggest run-scoring haul in Western Australia's history in the Shield to convince national selectors that Adam Voges was worth a shot in Baggy Green.
Voges turned 35 on the eve of the 2014-15 season and it was an age that evidently worked for him; after posting his first century of the summer (109no v Tas), he went back-to-back against Victoria (101 and 139no).
He interrupted his run spree to lead the Perth Scorchers to that summer's Big Bash title, then was at it again by February, scoring 101 and 22no, then 249 and 9 in consecutive games against the Redbacks.
To close out the season, Voges went 87, 54no, 42, 59, 83, 107, 36no.
Western Australia lost the decider to Victoria but Voges' century in that match was his sixth of the season – the most in the Shield in more than a decade – and his final runs tally was the fourth-highest in the competition's history, while he also snared 18 catches.
A few months later he was in the Caribbean, scoring a century on Test debut before going on to average 61 at the highest level.
8) Ben Hilfenhaus (Tas), 2006-07
Matches: 11 | Wickets: 60 | Ave: 25.38 | 5wi: 3 | BBM: 9-155
There have been statistically similar – or even slightly superior – seasons from bowlers already on this list, but none carried with them the history-making significance of this campaign from Tasmania's Ben Hilfenhaus.
Hilfenhaus was just 23 and only 10 matches into his first-class career when he became the Mr Reliable of the Tigers attack. Across an 11-match season, he sent down a monstrous 509.1 overs, striking every 50.9 deliveries to become just the fifth bowler to reach 60 wickets in one Shield campaign.
His devilish outswing produced wickets consistently (17 wickets in two matches in December was his most productive period) and as Tasmania chased a spot in the decider for just the fourth time, the right-armer was responsible for a remarkable 37.7 per cent of his team's wickets.
That ratio continued in the final against NSW, when Hilfenhaus took seven wickets (all top five batsmen) to help Tasmania to their maiden Shield triumph.
7) Matthew Hayden (Qld), 1993-94
Matches: 6 | Runs: 1,136 | Ave: 126.22 | 100s: 7 | HS: 173no
Yes, the above stats are correct: in the 1993-94 Shield season, Matthew Hayden scored more hundreds than he played matches – and broke the record for the most in a Sheffield Shield campaign, despite playing just six times.
A born run-scorer, the left-handed Hayden had debuted for the Bulls two seasons earlier, just three days after his 20th birthday, and made 149. He finished that summer as the Shield's leading run-scorer, and then in 1992-93, he was third.
But in 1993-94, just months on from missing out on an Ashes berth to Blues opener Michael Slater, he soared to new heights, twice scoring a century in each innings of a match and only once failing to reach three figures in a game (even then he was only narrowly denied, making 96no as Queensland beat WA by nine wickets).
In all, his 12-innings stretch for the season reads: 125, 1, 23, 96no, 9, 173no, 165, 116, 26, 121no, 126, 155.
The outrageous run came to an end when he was selected in Australia's ODI side, then subsequently toured with the national squad to South Africa. Amazingly, it would be another six years before he was a regular in Australia's Test team.
6) Matthew Elliott (Vic), 2003-04
Matches: 11 | Runs: 1,381 | Ave: 81.23 | 100s: 7 | HS: 182
What was then the most prolific run-scoring season in Sheffield Shield history ended with a century in the final and one last chance at Test cricket for the stylish Matthew Elliott, a man who had been tipped for greatness, had momentarily flirted with it, and had then returned to the domestic scene for years of dominance.
Elliott's 20-Test career had shuddered to a halt four-and-a-half years earlier but there was generally a sense the tall left-hander was a class above Shield level, and the 2003-04 summer – particularly the back half of it – was an extended case in point.
After making 106 and 79 against Queensland in Victoria's second match, he passed fifty just twice in his next seven innings (71 and 182 in separate matches against WA), at which point he was averaging 52.27 for the season with 575 runs to his name.
February hit and Elliott went berserk: 111, 28, 154no, 166, 102no, 1, 34, 155, 55no.
In nine innings he had blazed five hundreds and played a match-winning double hand in the final against Queensland, equalling Matthew Hayden's mark for the most centuries in a Shield campaign in the process.
It would be enough to earn him one final crack at Test cricket a few months later, when he was flown to Darwin from the UK as a late replacement for Ricky Ponting. After five years on the outer, he made 1 and 0, and was never picked again.
Shield Countdown so far
Make sure to return to cricket.com.au and the CA Live app all this week as we continue our countdown of the best Shield performances of the past 30 years