JLT Sheffield Shield 2017-18
Our Sheffield Shield team of the year
Finalists Queensland and Tasmania dominate the XI after a sensational summer of first-class action
Adam Burnett & Louis Cameron
18 March 2018, 11:42 AM AEST
1. Joe Burns (QLD) Matches: 6 | Runs: 635 | Ave: 57.72 | 100s: 2 | 50s: 3 | HS: 202no
Burns was in irresistible touch through much of the summer, piling on back-to-back hundreds before the Big Bash break to show exactly why many have him as their 'next man in' to Australia's Test batting order. One of those was an unbeaten 202, and while injury restricted him to just one match in the back half of the season, he returned with scores of 97 and 24 and looms as a key man in the Bulls' quest for title glory.
2. Matthew Renshaw (QLD) Matches: 10 | Runs: 686 | Ave: 40.35 | 100s: 3 | 50s: 2 | HS: 170
It would have been unfathomable to have factored Renshaw as even a chance to make this side at the midway point of the season, but his turnaround since has been nothing short of stunning. Three hundreds in as many matches (no-one else scored more than two all season) led the Bulls' on a stirring charge to the top of the ladder, and the imposing left-hander found the sort of touch that has him earmarked for a long career at the top of Australia's Test batting order.
3. Glenn Maxwell (VIC) Matches: 8 | Runs: 707 | Ave: 50.50 | 100s: 1 | 50s: 3 | HS: 278
Maxwell enjoyed his most productive season yet in the Shield competition, and was leading all run-scorers at the BBL break after putting together a monster 278 against New South Wales at North Sydney. The enigmatic right-hander briefly showed the sort of consistency that had been lacking from his first-class game previously, and though he failed to kick on with it after Christmas, the signs are promising he has worked out his long-form game. In a side with a four-man pace attack, Maxwell is also a handy off-spin option.
4. Marnus Labuschagne (QLD) Matches: 10 | Runs: 758 | Ave: 39.89 | 100s: 2 | 50s: 4 | HS: 134
The quiet achiever for Queensland's table-topping team, Labuschagne doubled his first-class career hundreds tally with fine centuries away to Victoria and New South Wales in the second half of the season, playing a key hand in the Bulls' impressive form. His team's leading run-scorer for the summer (and third overall) and a livewire in the field, the 23-year-old South African-born right-hander is also a handy leg-spinner, as evidenced by his match haul of five wickets against the Redbacks in December.
5. Callum Ferguson (SA) Matches: 9 | Runs: 780 | Ave: 48.75 | 100s: 1 | 50s: 5 | HS: 182no
South Australia's Mr Consistent year in, year out, Ferguson was at it again in the middle order through 2017-18, producing the goods with the bat even as his team wilted from finalists to cellar dwellers in a challenging season. The 33-year-old's output of 780 runs put him at the top of the Shield run-scorers list and a typically serene 182no against tittle holders Victoria in November had his name again mentioned as a Test candidate.
6. Jake Doran (TAS) Matches: 10 | Runs: 722 | Ave: 45.12 | 100s: 1 | 50s: 6 | HS: 114
After a number of lean years since crossing from NSW, the highly-rated youngster delivered on his promise by finishing fifth on the Shield run-scoring charts after the regular season, and first for finalists Tasmania. Breaking through for his maiden first-class century in November, Doran has passed 50 a further six times in a consistent season. Expect him to surge into the national reckoning in the coming years if he can back up his strong 2017-18 form.
7. Matthew Wade (TAS) Matches: 10 | Runs: 546 | Ave: 39.00 | 100s: 2 | 50s: 2 | HS: 139 | catches: 33
In his first season back with his native Tasmania, Matthew Wade has had a superb year with the bat and is only wicketkeeper to pass 500 runs in the competition. The 30-year-old also effected 33 dismissals to win the gloves in our team of the season. The left-hander made back-to-back centuries against Western Australia and NSW last month, returning to his aggressive best and putting up solid numbers after losing his spot in Australia's Test and ODI sides this summer.
8. Tom Rogers (TAS) Matches: 9 | Wickets: 35 | Ave: 17.31 | SR: 32.1 | BBI: 4-9 | BBM: 7-55
The breakout star of the competition. Canberra-product Tom Rogers may well have snuck under all but the most rusted-on fans' radars but has been one of the competition's leading allrounders. The 24-year-old only made his first-class debut in November in Tasmania's second game of the season but finished the summer as the Tigers' joint leading wicket-taker. He also scored 296 runs at 24.66, saving his best for the final home-and-away match with a vital knock of 80 in a virtual semi-final against reigning champions Victoria.
9. Michael Neser (QLD) Matches: 9 | Wickets: 37 | Ave: 19.70 | SR: 39.4 | 5wi: 1 | BBI: 6-57 | BBM: 8-76
Neser only took one big bag of wickets throughout the summer but the right-armer was super consistent, finishing third on the wicket-takers list to leapfrog the likes of Redbacks rookie Nick Winter into this team. In the final two matches of the season, he showed his class – and liking of the pressure situation – to help bowl his side to improbably victories against Western Australia and New South Wales on the last afternoon of each match. An under-rated batting talent, he also chipped in with 236 runs at 19.55 and figures as a key all-round player in the Shield final.
10. Chris Tremain (VIC) Matches: 10 | Wickets: 51 | Ave: 21.07 | SR: 41.1 | 5wi: 2 | 10wm: 1 | BBI: 7-82 | BBM: 10-143
The standout bowler of the 2017-18 Shield season. A tall, slingy right-arm quick, Chris Tremain took 13 more wickets than the next best bowler on aggregate and was a major factor in Victoria's quest for a fourth-straight title. While those hopes were extinguished with defeat to Tasmania in the final round, Tremain collected eight wickets for the match in the crunch encounter. Making his 51-wicket season even more impressive was the face he played four of his 10 games on the lifeless MCG surface.
11. Jackson Bird (TAS) Matches: 7 | Wickets: 35 | Ave: 20.22 | SR: 43.3 | 5wi: 1 | 10wm: 0 | BBI: 5-30 | BBM: 8-81
Australia's loss in South Africa looks set to be Tasmania's gain in the Shield final, with the high-quality right-arm offerings of Jackson Bird looming as one of the key factors in the decider from this Friday at Allan Border Field in Brisbane. The 31-year-old has taken nine wickets at an average of 23 in two Shield matches since his return from injury, complementing the 26 he took (at 19) before Christmas, and remains one of the country's most potent and consistent seam bowlers.