Marsh Sheffield Shield 2020-21
Victoria quarantine forces Shield fixture rejig
Victoria's young fast bowlers unable to adequately build up their loads for first-class cricket forcing the state to delay their first match of the Marsh Sheffield Shield
Louis Cameron in Adelaide
12 October 2020, 03:02 PM AEST
Victoria's wish to have their first game of the Marsh Sheffield Shield season postponed has been granted, while Queensland will go two-and-a-half weeks without playing, after Cricket Australia amended the four-day competition's schedule.
Victoria will now play just two games in the Adelaide Sheffield Shield bubble after concerns emerged over how players would physically be able to cope with the demands of first-class cricket following the two-week quarantine period they are currently serving.
Victoria will not play until October 30, 11 days after they finish their quarantine stint they are now halfway through. Their two games against New South Wales, on October 25 and November 17, have both been postponed.
Round two now consists of the Blues, who have already arrived in Adelaide and trained at the Park 25 precinct on Sunday, playing Western Australia at Gladys Elphick Park and South Australia hosting Tasmania at Karen Rolton Oval.
That leaves Queensland with a round two bye. The Bulls will instead fly home to Brisbane following their ongoing game against Tasmania before returning for their round three game on October 30 against the Redbacks in Glenelg.
In a media release, CA said the new fixture would “ensure a fairer preparation for first-class cricket for all teams and have been made in consultation with sports science and biosecurity experts”.
“The adjusted Marsh Sheffield Shield round two fixture has been designed to increase competitive balance among all teams and considers the health and safety of all participating players," said CA high performance chief Drew Ginn.
Victoria coach Chris Rogers told RSN Radio on Monday morning that he expects his side to play nine games this season and face a gruelling seven-game stretch when the Shield resumes after the KFC BBL in February.
Whether other teams will also only play nine regular-season Shield games this summer remains unclear, as does the fate of the competition's five-day final and the Marsh One-Day Cup, which Cricket Australia have reiterated a commitment to holding later in the season.
As the schedule now stands, NSW and Queensland will have played three games going into the BBL break, while South Australia and Tasmania will play four.
The late changes have come about following complications over Victoria's quarantine restrictions in Adelaide.
The Vics had initially planned to stay at the newly opened Adelaide Oval hotel and expected to have similar training conditions to what Australia's limited-overs players enjoyed upon returning from their tour of England last month.
But less than a week before their departure, Victoria found out they would instead be staying at the Playford Hotel and would face tighter training restrictions.
Groups of four (three players plus a coach) are taken by police escort to train at Adelaide Oval for three hours each. Aside from that, Victoria’s players and support staff are not permitted to leave their rooms.
That has proved a particular worry for their young fast bowlers. They have four quicks aged 22 or under, three of whom have never played first-class cricket.
"From looking at (the revised quarantine measures), we just thought we aren't going to be able to prepare well enough," said Rogers.
"We are training in groups of four. We only get a short rotation in the nets as everyone has to share that. Particularly with our young fast bowlers, to get enough balls into them to be resilient enough to play a first-class game, we just felt we weren't quite right.
"We've pushed it back, we're only going to play two games which is a bit disappointing but it is for the betterment of the squad … There's a few more weeks to go but we should be right by that first game."
Last season's Sheffield Shield was also compromised after COVID19 measures took effect in March, forcing the cancellation of the last round of the season and the final.
Marsh Sheffield Shield round 2 matches
October 19-22: South Australia v Tasmania, Karen Rolton Oval
October 19-22: Western Australia v New South Wales, Park 25