Sheffield Shield 2018-19
Rule change set to liven up Shield final
JLT Sheffield Shield final between Victoria and NSW this week will feature bonus-point system in the case of a drawn match
24 March 2019, 01:33 PM AEST
The era of dull drawn finals in the Sheffield Shield could be over with a new rule implemented for this week’s decider designed to liven up the contest.
In the 36 years since the Shield final was introduced, the team that has finished on top of the regular season standings has only needed to draw the decider at their home ground to claim the silverware. This has often led to the home team opting to prepare a flat pitch in order to secure a draw and win the title, leading to many slow-moving and anti-climactic games to finish the season.
But this year’s final between Victoria and NSW at Junction Oval, starting on Thursday, will be the first played with the bonus-point system that is used during the regular season.
In a one-year trial, it’s hoped the change will encourage the home side – in this case, Victoria – to prepare a competitive pitch that produces a more exciting contest.
The change means Victoria aren’t guaranteed to win the trophy in the case of a drawn final.
"We wished to ensure the match is a fitting finale to our marquee men’s domestic competition," said Cricket Australia’s head of cricket operations Peter Roach.
"The previous rule ... was not consistent with how this competition is generally played.
"The rule will be trialled this year, and we believe it will encourage the teams involved to push for a result and improve the spectacle in the tournament’s showcase match."
While complicated, the bonus-point system encourages batting teams to score at a faster rate and bowling teams to take wickets.
Each team receives 0.01 'points' for each run scored above 200 in the first 100 overs of their first innings, and 0.1 points for each wicket within 100 overs of their opponents' first innings.
For example if, say, Victoria are bowled out for 350 after 90 overs in their first innings and NSW are then bowled out for 300 in 90 overs in their first innings, Victoria will win be crowned champions in the event of a draw having accrued 2.5 bonus points to NSW's 2 bonus points. Using bonus points as a tiebreaker for a drawn match will only apply if at least 270 overs, roughly the equivalent of three days of play, have been bowled.
In the regular season, Victoria accrued 18.98 bonus points from their 10 matches compared to 13.72 by NSW.
While many players attest to the Shield final being the closest thing to Test cricket the domestic game can offer, few (some notable exceptions aside) of the season deciders have been gripping spectacles.
Four of the past six Shield finals have been drawn and only six of the 36 finals since the first in 1982-83 have been won by the second-placed side.
The rule change, announced last year, was recommended by the Playing Conditions Advisory Committee, a panel featuring players, umpires and administrators including Roach and Tasmania skipper George Bailey.
The JLT Sheffield Shield final will be broadcast live in Australia on Fox Sports and live streamed on Kayo from 10.15am AEDT on March 28