South Australia will open its Sheffield Shield campaign against Western Australia. After yet another challenging season last year, South Australia will want to get a win on the board early.
The Redbacks are coached by former test player Jason Gillespie and captained by current Aussie representative Travis Head. This will be Gillespie’s first full season as head coach after missing the preseason last time around.
The Redbacks will be missing some critical experience for this year. Tom Cooper, Callum Ferguson and Chadd Sayers all announced their retirements at the end of last season. To bolster their stocks, South Australia has added some key talent from other states.
It was another horrific season for South Australia last time around. The side went winless through the season, also finishing last on the ladder.
In typical Redbacks style, batting collapses and long spells in the field was the biggest issue. The South Australians came close to a win on a couple of occasions but couldn’t take that extra step to get the win.
South Australia’s best effort was against Western Australia at the WACA. The Redbacks posted 8/510 in their first innings, spearheaded by a double century by Travis Head and accompanied by a Henry Hunt century. WA responded with 409 before South Australia declared at 9/230 in their second innings.
On the final day, South Australia needed all ten wickets to steal an unlikely win. With 15 minutes left in the day, the final WA batter came out, but South Australia couldn’t get that final breakthrough.
While there were plenty of draws in the season, the losses caused the most significant issues for South Australia. Queensland beat SA by 62 runs WA by a huge 205 runs, and a six-wicket defeat to New South Wales summed up the season for the South Australians.
On an individual front, Travis Head was the clear standout. The left-hander scored 893 runs in 14 innings at an average of 68.69. If Head can keep up these numbers, it won’t be long until he finds himself back in the baggy green.
On the bowling front, the veteran Chadd Sayers was the leading wicket-taker with 13 and at an average of 46. Such a large bowling average represents the difficulties South Australia had during the season.
South Australia’s batting is its strength, especially when the Australian representatives are free to play. The trio of Jake Weatherald, Travis Head, and Alex Carey are the clear strengths and the side’s leadership group.
Head was the Redbacks best run-scorer last season (893 at 68). Alex Carey was also dominant in the three matches he managed to play, scoring 299 runs at 59.80. This year, South Australia should see more of Alex Carey as the keeper has seemed to fall out with selectors in the T20 format. Weatherald wasn’t as prolific but had huge potential.
An unlikely name whose stocks went on the rise last year was Henry Hunt. He is a gritty opener who, like Travis Head, scores a lot of runs. He struck 628 runs at 42 and added hugely to a strong top order of South Australia.
The team proved last season they could score big, passing 400 on more than one occasion. The key in the future is adding to the bowling strength of the team and taking more wickets. Some key additions will hopefully allow South Australia to be more competitive on this front.
Apart from the obvious big guns in Travis Head and Alex Carey, South Australia will rely on other experienced heads.
Daniel Worrall is now entering his final season with South Australia after signing a three-year deal with Surrey in the UK. Worrall has skills that few Australians do. The amount of swing he can part on the ball is insane. Worrall also comes with a pedigree, having taken 222 wickets at 27 through his career to date.
With the departure of Chadd Sayers, South Australia needed another quick bowler to fill this void. Gillespie looked towards Queensland and found Brandan Doggett.
Doggett is a fast, bouncy bowler that can take wickets on any pitch and in all conditions. The 27-year-old has played 19 first-class matches so far, taking 60 wickets. South Australians fans will be hoping Doggett can have a breakthrough shield season.
Player to Watch
South Australia has had a big focus in recent years on developing young talent. One of these youngsters is Liam Scott. While he is injured currently, he will be a force to be reckoned with when he comes back fit.
Scott played seven matches through the last season, batting in every position from 3-8 and bowling important overs. While his numbers aren’t incredible yet, there is clearly talent there. Scott’s seven matches yielded 273 runs and three wickets.
His biggest highlight to date was a 61 from 162 balls against a solid Victorian lineup. On his way to 61, Scott struck four boundaries as well as four sixes. While he isn’t a superstar yet, he has plenty of potential to be a future Australian representative.
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Who’s in for national selection?
Kane Richardson is in the South Australian squad, although he will be unlikely to play Shield cricket. The choice of whether to play or not will likely be taken away from him anyway. The quick bowler has made the squad for the T20 World Cup and will miss approximately two months after the Australian team set off for the UAE.
Travis Head may have been dropped against the Indians last summer, but could very easily find himself back in the Australian side. After a huge Shield season last year, if Head can prove that form again, pulling on the baggy green is only a matter of time.
With speculation around the extent of Tim Paine’s injury, the test team could be looking for a new keeper. Carey is the favourite for this sport should Paine become unavailable. As well as potential tests, Carey will be in the ODI set up in the latter half of the season.
With some huge changes in the list, South Australia should expect to hand out many new caps and develop some young players.
Thankfully for the Redbacks, the only way forward from here is to get better. Travis Head will lead the team well and lead a very exciting batting line-up that should benefit from flat pitches in Adelaide.
It will be interesting to see whether Wes Agar can convert his excellent white-ball form over the last 12 months into the red-ball format and push for test selection.
Bowling will be the key for South Australia. If the team can take wickets regularly, they should be able to move up the ladder.
With the first match coming up against Western Australia, the Redbacks will have an excellent first test to gauge where their form and skill is at.
Wes Agar, Jake Carder, Alex Carey, Brendan Doggett, Daniel Drew, Ryan Gibson, David Grant, Travis Head, Henry Hunt, Samuel Kerber, Jake Lehmann, Nathan McAndrew, Nathan McSweeney, Joe Mennie, Harry Nielsen, Tim Oakley, Lloyd Pope, Kane Richardson, Liam Scott, Jake Weatherald, Nick Winter, Dan Worrall
Rookies: Kyle Brazell, Jordan Buckingham, Bailey Capel, Corey Kelly, Thomas Kelly
In: Brendan Doggett, Nathan McSweeney, Nathan McAndrew, Jake Carder, Sam Kerber, Ryan Gibson
Out: Callum Ferguson (retired), Chadd Sayers (retired), Tom Cooper, Brad Davis, Conor McInerney, Luke Robins, Cameron Valente
Predicted First XI
- Henry Hunt
- Jake Weatherald
- Jake Carder
- Travis Head (c)
- Alex Carey (wk)
- Jake Lehmann
- Nathan McAndrew
- Samuel Kerber
- Joe Mennie
- Dan Worrall
- Wes Agar
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