Marsh Sheffield Shield 2020-21
Success and stars: Deep Blues set goals after securing Shield
NSW won their 47th Sheffield Shield last summer and that could be the start of something big at the SCG
11 July 2020, 08:57 AM AEST
Peter Nevill is not ready to call it a dynasty just yet but the leaders of New South Wales' Marsh Sheffield Shield-winning side want to start a new production line of Australia players.
A belated celebration was held for last summer's standout domestic team, which was awarded the Sheffield Shield when the competition's final round was abandoned in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
NSW captain Nevill said he celebrated the achievement – in isolation, on his couch.
Few could argue their title was not deserved, despite no final being played, given they had won twice as many games as their nearest challenger, Victoria.
Having since welcomed home native sons Adam Zampa (from South Australia) and Chris Tremain (Victoria), the Blues' already deep squad now looks even more formidable.
"I fear for a few batters, I must admit," coach Phil Jaques joked when asked about his squad's bowling stocks.
"We are blessed with the depth of talent we've got. With the amount of movement with international cricket, making sure we've got guys pushing each other to get better below the three quicks (Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins) and (Nathan) Lyon.
"We want to get as many players playing for Australia as we can in the batting department (as well) and we want guys pushing those guys to get better for the state system.
"That's what makes a good state system and that's what we're about in New South Wales."
At full strength, which NSW rarely are, the Blues' attack is a quartet that has been Australia's first-choice attack for more than half of their 27 Tests since the start of the 2017-18 summer.
But when Cummins, Lyon, Starc and Hazlewood are away, Tremain, Zampa, Sean Abbott, Trent Copeland and Harry Conway are all ready to step in.
While he concedes it's not an easy task keeping everyone happy, Jaques believes the competition for spots is a blessing.
"I think we can (create a dynasty) if we can stay the course and we keep challenging each other to get better," said the former Test opener.
"That's why it's important to have tension down the line and we've got guys pushing each other. We want a group pushing in the same direction all the time.
"I'd like to see some sustained success here in my time as coach. That's the system that NSW brings – we've got the most people, we've got the most talented youngsters, we've just got to find a way to expose them and keep them hungry and keep the pathway clear for them."
One of those youngsters coming through is Conway, the only of the aforementioned bowlers without an Australian cap.
It was the right-armer's breakout summer of 25 wickets (the Blues' equal most along with Copeland) at 21, winning him an Australian A berth, that Nevill singled out as his biggest highlight of last season.
"(Conway was) just continually improving, taking his game to a new level and to see him rewarded … with a lot of wickets, five-fors, Australia A as a replacement player (is pleasing)," said Nevill.
"To see his progress over the last few years is a credit to our coaching staff and the players who have worked really hard with him. Trent Copeland is one who has helped Harry take his game to where it is now.
"To see people improve that way and develop their skills to the point where they're potentially challenging for Australian selection is great to see."