After 10 enthralling rounds of Marsh Sheffield Shield action, the cricket.com.au editorial team has picked the best XI players to make an unofficial team of the year.
Australia’s domestic cricket season concludes this week when Western Australia hosts Victoria at the WACA in a rematch of last year’s decider for a chance to claim the 2022-23 Sheffield Shield title.
Cameron Bancroft (Western Australia)
Matches: 10 | Runs: 880 | Highest score: 176no | Average: 58.66 | 100s: 4
The former Test opener in firmly back on the Australian radar for this year’s Ashes with an outstanding summer across all three formats, including the best Shield season of his career. Bancroft played a crucial role in both the Perth Scorchers BBL and WA Marsh Cup titles, with 1564 runs in 29 matches across the three domestic competitions. But it was the Sheffield Shield where he was the most dominant, finishing the regular season as the runaway top run-scorer, 224 more than the next best. After this week’s Shield final, he’ll head to England on a short-term county deal to further press his claims for a Test recall.
Marcus Harris (Victoria)
Matches: 8 | Runs: 581 | HS: 111 | Ave: 41.5 | 100s: 2
Another former Test opener who maintained his consistency at domestic level with a seventh straight season averaging more than 40 in the Sheffield Shield. Harris is one of three openers in cricket.com.au’s Team of the Tournament with openers making up six of the top 12 runs-scorers this season. The 30-year-old left-hander recently told the Vic State Cricket Podcast he feels as confident in his game as ever and heads back to Gloucestershire following the season decider knowing that early April county runs will go a long way to another Test squad call up.
Caleb Jewell (Tasmania)
Matches: 10 | Runs: 652 | HS: 121 | Ave: 38.35 | 100s: 2
The third opener to make the cut, Jewell’s best Shield season to date has just been rewarded with a maiden call up to the Australia A squad for next month’s tour of New Zealand. He finished the home-and-away campaign as the competition’s third highest run-scorer, backing up his 2021-22 season of 508 runs at 36.29. The 25-year-old left-hander hit a magnificent century against ladder-leaders WA in the penultimate game of the season in a match with few highlights for the Tigers, saying after that knock that the “player I want to be is a three-format player” after also hitting two centuries in the Marsh Cup and three half-centuries in the BBL this summer.
Peter Handscomb (Victoria)
Matches: 5 | Runs: 571 | HS: 281no | Ave: 81.57 | 100s: 2
The Victorian captain’s hot form to start the summer – which included a career-best first-class score of 281 not out against WA in round two – was rewarded with a Test recall for the Border Gavaskar series in India where he played all four matches to finish as Australia’s second highest run-scorer for the tour. Handscomb was the competition’s leading batter at the halfway point of the season until departing for India after the KFC BBL break. The 31-year-old also heads to England for a county stint to press his claims to keep his spot for the World Test Championship final and Ashes in June.
Matt Short (Victoria)
Matches: 9 | Runs: 584 | HS: 119 | Ave: 44.92 | 100s: 2 | Wickets: 8 | Best bowling: 2-11
Having been dropped from the Victorian side for their round four clash with Queensland, Matt Short has stormed into the Team of the Tournament with a sensational second half of the season. The 27-year-old allrounder took inspiration from ‘Bazball’ to convert his form from another superb Big Bash season into the red ball format with 483 runs at 80.5 with two centuries since the end of KFC BBL|12. After breaking a seven-year hoodoo without a century for Victoria, Short scored three in three weeks across the two formats and heads into this week’s final having passed 50 in five of his last seven Shield innings.
Jimmy Peirson – wicketkeeper (Queensland)
Matches: 10 | Runs: 460 | HS: 123 | Ave: 35.38 | 100s: 2 | Catches: 34 | Stumpings: 2
Following the departures of Usman Khawaja and Marnus Labuschagne in late November for Australian duties, their inspirational stand-in skipper Jimmy Peirson has been the stand out batter in the Queensland side. The fact that the Bulls were in second spot still in a position to make the Shield final heading into the last round is down to Peirson’s counter-attacking batting with the wicketkeeper playing two crucial hands against NSW and South Australia to get them out of trouble and over the line. The 30-year-old gloveman has been rewarded for three consecutive Shield seasons with more than 400 runs with selection for Australia A’s tour of New Zealand next month.
Michael Neser (Queensland)
Matches: 8 | Wickets: 40 | Best bowling: 5-36 | Ave: 16.67 | 5WI: 2 | Runs: 357 | HS: 136
All-round Michael Neser enjoyed his best Sheffield Shield campaign with the ball, and second best with the bat, scoring a second first-class century against NSW in round two. He also added another Test cap against the West Indies in Adelaide and also returned a career-best BBL season with the ball. The 32-year-old right-armer topped the wickets tally this season ahead of teammate Mark Steketee and heads back to Glamorgan next month eager to show his skills with the Dukes ball ahead of the World Test Championship final and Ashes.
Will Sutherland – captain (Victoria)
Matches: 9 | Wickets: 36 | Best bowling: 5-58 | Ave: 20.61 | 5WI: 1 | Runs: 383 | HS: 100
Another fast bowling allrounder who had his best Sheffield Shield with bat and ball, Will Sutherland has developed into one of Victoria’s most important players. The 23-year-old flagged on cricket.com.au’s Unplayable Podcast on the eve of the season he was keen to lift his batting output and he did just that in the opening game of the season against South Australia with a maiden first-class century. He has also been named captain of the Team of the Tournament ahead of regular state captain Handscomb after the right-armer led Victoria to in the Shield decider with four straight victories after the BBL break, including their first victory at the WACA since October 2018 in the final-round to secure second spot on the table.
Mark Steketee (Queensland)
Matches: 9 | Wickets: 38 | Best bowling: 6-38 | Ave: 18.86 | Strike rate: 41.9
One half of an exceptional Queensland pace duo, only a hip injury in their final-round clash with Tasmania prevented Mark Steketee and Neser from becoming the first Bulls bowlers to take 40 wickets each in a Shield season in 17 years. Over the last two Shield campaigns, 29-year-old right-armer has taken 70 wickets at 18.27 while striking every 40 balls bowled, which rightly earned him a call up to the Test squad during Australia’s tour of Pakistan last year and has him among a stable of quicks vying for a berth in the Ashes squad.
Todd Murphy (Victoria)
Matches: 3 | Wickets: 14 | Best bowling: 4-42 | Ave: 17.71 | Strike rate: 40.7
It may seem a strange selection given he started the season as Victoria’s second spinner and only played three matches, but in a season dominated by fast bowlers, Murphy was the standout spinner. His 14 wickets placed him behind Corey Rocchiccioli (24), Ben Manenti (23), Jarrod Freeman (22) and Chris Green (20), but his average and strike rate was superior. With no spinners in the season’s top 10 wicket-takers, the 22-year-old off-spinner’s form in the first half of the season for Victoria and the Prime Minister’s XI earned him a spot on Australia’s tour of India when he took 7-124 on Test debut to finish as the fourth highest wicket-taker in the series.
Lance Morris (Western Australia)
Matches: 5 | Wickets: 27 | Best bowling: 5-36 | Ave: 18.4 | Strike rate: 33.1
Lance Morris also makes the cut with only five Shield appearances, but there can be no questioning his impact in the first half of the season. The express right-armer ruffled a few feathers in the opening stages of the campaign, including Test batters Usman Khawaja and Marnus Labuschagne who he dismissed in the same over during WA’s victory over the Bulls in round three. Before being drafted into the Test squad during the Australian summer, the 24-year-old was the competition’s leading wicket-taker at the halfway point of the season with 27 at an incredible strike rate of 33.1 and again looks set to tour with the Test squad for the WTC final and Ashes series.
12th: Daniel Drew (South Australia)
Matches: 8 | Runs: 656 | HS: 208no | Ave: 43.73 | 100s: 1
It was a tough call not to have the Redbacks No.3 in the final XI with Drew’s double century against WA crucial in South Australia’s upset of the ladder-leaders. But given that was his only hundred of the season, preference was given to those with greater impact across the campaign. The 26-year-old’s dual eighties in the final match against NSW lifted him to second behind Bancroft as the season’s top run-scorers. In an improved campaign for the Redbacks, the right-hander’s breakthrough summer along with several of his teammates will give the state high hopes heading into the 2023-24 summer.
The Marsh Sheffield Shield final will be broadcast live on Fox Cricket and Kayo Sports, as well as live streamed free on cricket.com.au and the CA Live app.
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