Marsh Sheffield Shield 2019-20
Sheffield Shield season review: Tasmania
Jordan Silk takes us through the highs and lows of Tasmania's 2019-20 Marsh Sheffield Shield season
25 March 2020, 10:12 AM AEST
Final ladder position: Fourth (won three, lost four, drew two)
Leading run scorer: Alex Doolan (575 runs @ 35.93, 2x100, 1x50, High 170no)
Leading wicket-taker: Jackson Bird (28 wickets @ 22.35, econ 2.82, Best 5-78)
Tasmania were in the process of making a late dash for a finals place with two wins on the trot at home to Western Australia and New South Wales, but ultimately a poor middle of the season cost them.
The Tigers failed to win on the road (though they played out a classic draw against the Redbacks in Adelaide) but wins against the competition's top two sides left them with some positive notes to take from the season.
So too did the emergence of Nathan Ellis, the form of Beau Webster, and the unrelenting consistency of Jackson Bird.
Jordan Silk looks back at the Shield summer:
Where it went right
It went right in patches for us this year. On reflection, our last two games were bloody good, and we played those without Jackson Bird, so to register two wins without the best bowler we've ever had in Tassie cricket was enormous. I look back and think there's heaps of upside on our season. Winning at home is massive and that's one thing we did really well a couple of years ago when we made the final. We had three wins this season at home – beating NSW at home was massive for us – but if we can make our home ground a fortress and win say four out of five, you've just got to try to scrap one win away from home and you're just about in the final. The challenge for us is trying to take 20 wickets at Junction Oval or the SCG, but with guys like Riley Meredith and Nathan Ellis who can generate a bit of air speed, we might be able to find them.
Where it went wrong
We had a pretty poor period leading into the Big Bash where we lost two home games, one really badly to Queensland – a 10-wicket loss that finished in two days. They bowled us out for 107 and 150 here in Hobart, then we lost to South Australia the following week. I'd come back from my broken arm and was captain for those games and I performed poorly myself, so it was a bloody hard couple of weeks where, looking back, things fell away. I feel like that's where it was lost for us this season.
The surprise packet
Nathan Ellis is just about the surprise packet of the Sheffield Shield this year. He debuted in our second-last matches and took nine wickets, then nine more against New South Wales – I've never seen anyone have an impact so quickly. I remember talking to Charlie Wakim about him during the Big Bash. Charlie wasn't surprised, he was like, 'Mate I've been telling you – he is a gun. People just think he's a white-ball bowler but I've seen him in red ball – he can make it talk'. I thought maybe he was too short and skiddy, but even talking to the NSW guys who played him in the Shield, they said that's what provides the different challenge – because he's low and skiddy, he's making you play every ball and it's hard to leave, and it's hard to duck his bouncers, almost in that Jhye Richardson type mould; people maybe think they can play some shots against him because he's not generating a lot of bounce, and that's where they get sucked in.
Best individual bowling performance
Riley Meredith bowled a really good spell on the morning of day three against New South Wales at Drummoyne. He knocked over Peter Nevill first ball, then got Steve Smith, then went through a few more of them. It was his first five-wicket haul and it felt like that spell was Riley announcing himself. Jackson Bird took eight-fa (3-51 & 5-78) in our first game in Perth, and that was a really good performance and just an example of his consistency throughout the whole year. Obviously Nathan Ellis's two games were outstanding but I was also impressed with a five-fa Sam Rainbird took against WA late in our season. We thought he'd bowled really well at the Gabba in the previous game but had zero rewards, then he came home and bowled 30 overs and took 5-77 and we were all really pleased for him.
Best individual batting performance
Alex Doolan's twin hundreds against South Australia in our Adelaide draw sticks out as a pretty special performance. Alex and I have the job of trying to set up the first innings and get the team into the game, and we probably reflect on that as something that was a bit disappointing for us this season – we weren't quite at our best as an opening partnership. Batting at Bellerive is always going to come with its disappointments so we try to cash in whenever we travel, and Alex definitely did that in this game. He spent just about the entire game out in the middle, faced more than 600 balls, and that's something he's done plenty of times – when he's gotten in, he's cashed in and gone big. When I watch him bat, I do still think he could play at international level and have success. Then Beau Webster's 187 against WA from No.7, well that was something else – just a 'wow' innings. We've given Beau a bit of license to play with freedom further down the order and that mindset shift worked for him. That innings was crazy, and hopefully it gives him some confidence going forward.
Alex Doolan rated our win over WA in Hobart as being in the top five of his career. We conceded 370 first innings and we were really disappointed on day one with how we'd bowled – they were about 6-290 and we were thinking it was just about game over. But the way we fought back into the game – obviously Beau's innings, and then Nathan's performance with the ball in the second innings on his debut – was just enormous. It was also Doolan's 100th game so it was probably a bit more emotional for us all. It was a great run chase (235 to win), we got there with about four wickets and 20 minutes left in the game, so it was a real sweet win.
I have to go with Jackson Bird. He missed a couple of games at the end of the season but he's just so consistent as a leader of our attack. He's the one for me.
Toughest team to face
Queensland smacked us twice. I find that they're always so tough to beat – they've got some really good bowlers. Steketee blew us apart in the game down here, then they've got Gannon and Neser as well. They've got Wildermuth, who's one of the better allrounders in the country, and just a nice balanced batting line-up, with the addition of Bryce Street this year huge for them.
Your overall Shield player of the season
Nic Maddinson is a hard one to go past. His season was awesome. He got 70-odd against us down here so he scored them in tough conditions as well. I'll give an honourable mention to Cameron Green as well – three hundreds in a Shield season is an amazing effort for anyone, let alone a 20-year-old coming in at six or seven.