Smith caps whirlwind 12 months with title
NSW captain Steve Smith says winning the Sheffield Shield caps a whirlwind 12 months, where he’s come from the international wilderness to be part of Australia’s Ashes clean sweep and a series win over South Africa.
NSW won its first shield title in six years at Manuka Oval on Tuesday, with Smith producing an unbeaten century.
Western Australia was unable to produce a miracle, with NSW losing just one wicket in the 1½ sessions played before both teams agreed to end play early on the fifth and final day, with NSW 4-197.
WA had no chance of getting a result, trailing by 464 runs.
As the home side, NSW just needed a draw to win its first shield title since 2007-08. Moises Henriques was named man of the match for his 140 in the first innings that helped NSW post a dominant total of 447, before skittling WA for just 180.
NSW resumed at 3-59 on Tuesday and Smith (103 not out) and Kurtis Patterson (52) brought up their half centuries before lunch.
Patterson was caught by Jason Behrendorff at gully off the bowling of Marcus North almost immediately after bringing up his milestone.
With an end in sight, Smith opened his shoulders against former Australian teammate Ashton Agar, smashing him straight down the ground for a couple of sixes.
A century in a victorious shield final capped a stunning 12 months for Smith that began with his Test recall against India in March last year.
He had spent two years out of the Test side, but has since established himself as an important cog in the middle order.
“It’s very special,” he said. “It’s the first shield final I’ve been a part of and to captain it and to win the shield, it’s just been an amazing 12 months for me. The whole thing’s still a bit of a blur.
“I’ve always dreamt of playing in a shield final with NSW and to win it and to be captain of the side, it’s a great thrill.”
Smith credited Henriques for setting up the win with his first-innings ton, especially as the Blues were 6-189 shortly after he arrived at the crease.
He also praised Josh Hazlewood’s 6-50, who was one of the few bowlers able to extract anything from the Manuka pitch.
“It’s been an amazing journey so far, but to come back here with NSW, and especially with close mate Ryan Carters … and to bring the shield home, it’s been fantastic. It’s been an unbelievable season,” he said.
WA captain Adam Voges was left feeling empty after his team was dominated for five days by the home side. But he praised the way his team toiled, even though the writing was on the wall going into the final day.
He was confident it was in a strong position for the future with Justin Langer as coach.
Voges said WA was at “rock bottom” when the former Australian opening batsman took over the reins, but had managed to turn the side around with his work ethic.
And he also felt the emergence of Canberra quick Jason Behrendorff would stand the state in good stead.
“I honestly think we’ve exceeded a few expectations,” he said. “With such a young squad that we’ve got, there’s some really positive signs for West Australian cricket.
“Over the course of the next five years, hopefully we can become a real force.
“I’ve been really excited by the development of [wicketkeeper] Sam Whiteman, Jason Behrendorff, and a few of our younger guys have come through as well. Hopefully we can keep our group together over the next few years and really challenge for some silverware.”
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