Marsh Sheffield Shield 2020-21
Cricket.com.au's Shield team of the season
From Test stars to first-class veterans to generation next, these dozen players were in sparkling touch across the 2020-21 campaign
Louis Cameron is a Melbourne-based journalist. A former Victorian Bushrangers fast bowler, Louis joined the cricket.com.au team with assistance from the Australian Cricketers' Association's Internship Program in 2016.
1. Will Pucovski (Vic)
M: 2 | Inns: 3 | R: 495 | Ave: 247.50 | HS: 255* | 100s: 2 | 50s: 0
Including a player who featured in just two games all season will undoubtedly divide opinion, but Will Pucovski's historic pair of matches in Adelaide were simply too good to ignore. For context, Pucovski in three innings scored more runs than Matt Renshaw (466 runs at 66.57) and Usman Khawaja (450 at 64.28) made all season despite those two having very respectable campaigns for Queensland. What a remarkable glimpse of the right-hander's talent we got during that initial South Australian bubble to begin the Shield season; an unbeaten 255 against the Redbacks in which he and Marcus Harris shared an all-time record 486-run partnership, before he backed it up with another double (202) against Western Australia. Pucovski just edges out his Victorian opening partner Harris for this spot.
2. Cameron Bancroft (WA)
M: 8 | Inns: 14 | R: 678 | Bat Ave: 48.42 | HS: | 100s: 3 | 50s: 3
Having finished the preceding season out of the Western Australian side altogether, Bancroft not only returned to form in 2020-21 but had one of his most consistent first-class campaigns. In addition to regularly seeing off the new ball – he was only out for single digits three times – he also passed fifty on six occasions, more than any other opening batter. The right-hander was only one of two openers (among eight batters overall) to score three tons this season, the other being his regular partner Sam Whiteman.
3. Marnus Labuschagne (Qld)
M: 7 | Inns: 9 | R: 629 | Bat Ave: 69.88 | HS: 167 | 100s: 3 | 50s: 2
In just nine innings, Marnus Labuschagne continued to churn out big runs both before and after the India Test series. His 112 against NSW this week was his third ton of the season after scoring consecutive hundreds in the Adelaide bubble, while he was eight runs away from a fourth against Western Australia in March. When Labuschagne got a start he rarely let it slip, as his list of Shield scores showed; 167, 117, 0, 0, 14, 49, 78, 92, 112. The Queenslander narrowly beats out Shaun Marsh for the No.3 berth.
4. Travis Head (SA)
M: 7 | Inns: 14 | R: 893 | Ave: 68.69 | HS: 223 | 100s: 3 | 50s: 3
It was another rough summer for the South Australians, though their skipper could hardly have done more. Travis Head finishes the season behind only Cameron Green among leading run-getters, finishing seven short of the 900-run mark. His two standout innings in the Adelaide bubble – 171no v Tasmania and 151 v Victoria – were both match-saving fourth-innings knocks, while his 223 against Western Australia also came in a draw as the Redbacks struggled to bowl teams out.
5. Cameron Green (WA)
M: 8 | Inns: 14 | R: 922 | Ave: 76.83 | HS: 251 | 100s: 3 | 50s: 2
Cameron Green's status as the most exciting Australian allrounder in a generation was only enhanced in a season in which he made his Test debut and became one of the domestic game's most prized wickets. With more than 900 runs, he finished the season 29 clear of the next most prolific batter. The secret to his success was pretty simple; he faced more balls (1,688) than any other player this season. His 197 against NSW in October put him firmly on the national radar, before finishing his campaign with more big runs against SA (168no in February) and Queensland (251 in March). His bowling was far better than his numbers (three wickets at 98.33) would suggest, and there's good reason to believe Green will spend less and less time playing for WA in the coming seasons.
6. Moises Henriques (NSW)
M: 6 | Inns: 11 | R: 633 | Ave: 70.33 | HS: 167 | 100s: 3 | 50s: 2
Moises Henriques turned 34 earlier this year, yet shows no signs of slowing down. The right-hander took apart numerous Shield attacks and would likely have swelled his run tally further had he not departed early for the Indian Premier League. His finest achievement of the summer might well have been his second-innings 113 against Tasmania in Adelaide, leading the Blues in a remarkable comeback in which they won outright after making just 64 in their first innings.
7. Josh Inglis (WA) (wk)
M: 6 | Dismissals: 25 | Inns: 12 | R: 585 | Ave: 73.12 | HS: 153* | 100s: 3 | 50s: 2
It's been something of a breakout season for the ultra-impressive Josh Inglis in all formats, with his improvement with the bat in four-day cricket arguably the most exciting element of his season. Without a first-class century coming into the summer, Inglis finished it with three – two against Victoria, one against South Australia – to throw his hat in the ring as a possible successor to Tim Paine. The 26-year-old edges out Alex Carey, his main competition to be the next Test keeper, as the gloveman in this XI despite the South Australian averaging nearly 60 in his three games. Only Paine (35) finished with more dismissals than Inglis.
8. Jackson Bird (Tas)
M: 8 | W: 35 | Ave: 22.17 | Econ: 2.59 | BBI: 7-17 | BBM: 8-73
Jackson Bird was the competition's standout fast bowler and has a compelling case to make that he is Tasmania's greatest-ever paceman after becoming the first Tiger to 300 Shield wickets. The right-armer's summer highlight was undoubtedly his single-handed demolition of NSW for a record low 32, in which he took 7-18 in a stunning spell. That came after he had taken 4-14 in routing the same opposition for just 64 earlier in the season in Adelaide, where he toiled hard on flatter surfaces and rarely gave anything away. Having infamously had his batting questioned by Rod Marsh when he missed out on Test selection in 2016, Bird also showed major strides on that front by scoring a pair of half-centuries to finish the season.
9. Nathan Lyon (NSW)
M: 8 | W: 39 | Ave: 25.00 | Econ: 2.62 | BBI: 6-21 | BBM: 10-78
Despite playing every Test for Australia this summer, Nathan Lyon also found time to play every Sheffield Shield game for NSW and has been a major factor in the reigning champions making the final. His tally of 39 wickets was four more than the next best, while he also bowled more overs than anyone else this Shield season. His form in the back half of the season was particularly impressive, snaring 24 wickets in the final four games including a 10-wicket haul against Victoria.
10. Mitchell Swepson (Qld)
M: 4 | W: 29 | Ave: 22.44 | Econ: 2.51 | BBI: 5-55 | BBM: 10-171
Mitchell Swepson demonstrated he's comfortably the best long-form wrist-spinner in the country in one of the most exciting Shield seasons by a spin bowler in recent memory. The fact Swepson is an unquestionable selection in this side despite missing half of Queensland's games through injury highlights what a remarkable campaign he had. The leggie took 23 wickets in the Bulls' three pre-BBL games, twice bowling them to victory and nearly doing so a third time against NSW in which he took a maiden career 10-wicket haul. Six more victims in his return from injury this month suggests his recent neck issue should be nothing more than a minor setback, while his season economy rate of 2.51 shows he has the rare ability for a wrist-spinner of being a defensive option as well as an attacking one.
11. Scott Boland (Vic)
M: 8 | W: 30 | Ave: 24.00 | Econ: 2.71 | BBI: 6-61 | BBM: 8-113
Scott Boland prospered in a gruelling six-game post-BBL stint, leading a more inexperienced Victorian attack than they have fielded in recent years with aplomb. The right-armer rarely missed the mark with the ball and took at least one wicket in every innings in which he bowled. His best effort came in the Vics' season opener when he took six of the eight South Australian wickets to fall in their second innings when they held on for a draw at Glenelg.
12th: Sean Abbott (NSW)
M: 7 | Inns: 10 | R: 525 | Ave: 75.00 | HS: 102* | 100s: 1 | 50s: 5
W: 17 | Ave: 31.82 | Econ: 2.98 | BBI: 6-89 | BBM: 6-89
Sean Abbott was a tough man to leave out as the season's most impressive allrounder, but he missed out on the chance to push his case in the final game of the season due to a hand injury. While the paceman's bowling numbers were typically solid, it was his batting that surprised; he passed fifty six times out of 10 innings, with a maiden century against Tasmania. He will have to settle for being this side's overqualified drinks mixer, and having one of the competition's best fielders warming the bench is a bonus for this star-studded group.
Don't miss The Heat Repeat on Foxtel, coming April 7. The two-part documentary will also be shown on Kayo and cricket.com.au.