Western Australia just missed out on the top two in the last edition of the Sheffield Shield. With a squad of experienced and exciting youth, WA has never been better placed for a dominant season.
WA hasn’t made the Shield final since the summer of 2014-15. Adam Voges was the captain of WA during that season. Now, as the coach, he will want to repeat that success.
Led by the Marsh brothers in what could be Shaun’s last season, WA will want to bring that shield back across the Nullarbor one more time.
Western Australia needed a win in their final match against Tasmania to make the Shield final. Unfortunately for them, they were bowled out for 304, chasing 480 in the second innings.
It was an unfortunate end to the season for the WA team, who looked like the best team for most of the season. WA only lost one match, the lowest of the competition along with Victoria. That loss, however, was the match they needed to win most.
WA was dominant with the bat throughout the season. With so many stars batters, the side scored 400 in an innings in six of eight matches. Putting runs like this on the board in four-day cricket makes it almost impossible to lose.
Western Australia’s highest score came against New South Wales during the Adelaide hub at the start of the season. WA put on a massive 534, including 197 from Cam Green and 114 from Sam Whiteman.
WA’s biggest win of the season came against the Victorians, winning by 247 runs. Matthew Kelly and Joel Paris were the picks of the bowlers, with six wickets each in the match.
Cam Green was by far the pick of the batters for WA. The all-rounder was the leading run-scorer in the competition, with 922 runs in eight matches. He struck three centuries in the season and the highest score in the competition with a massive 251.
On the bowling end, Cameron Gannon was the surprising pick for most wickets for Western Australia. It was a successful season for the pacer after having moved from Queensland. Cannon took 24 wickets through the season, however, at an average of almost 40. He will want to improve on the average this season.
With such an experienced lineup with plenty of career runs and wickets, WA should find strengths from number one to number eleven. The power of this year’s batting lineup is particularly impressive.
Mitch and Shaun Marsh will take the three and four spots, giving WA strength through the middle order. Last season Mitch Marsh only played one game due to injury and Australian selection. He only made 46 runs in that match; his career numbers averaging 32 prove he will be of value to the side.
Shaun Marsh in at number three gives WA perhaps the best number three outside of Usman Khawaja in the country. Along with Green, Marsh was one of the most important batsmen for WA. He scored 734 runs at 56 in another excellent season.
Some other vital batsmen include the openers Cam Bancroft and Sam Whiteman, who could push for Australian selection if they have good starts to the season.
Josh Inglis has had an incredible 12 months. He has gone from relative unknown to hitting centuries in the T20 Blast playing in The Hundred, and now being selected in the Australian T20 World Cup squad. Inglis also had an unbelievable Shield season last year, the keeper striking 585 at 73.
With Tim Paine coming towards the end, Inglis will secure a test spot with another good season. Unfortunately, he will miss a considerable chunk of shield cricket when he goes off to the T20 World Cup.
Jhye Richardson has also come a long way in the last few years. He has proven himself in white-ball cricket, and has also shown he is an exceptional talent when given the opportunity to play red-ball cricket.
Sam Whiteman is another to watch; he was close to a test spot only a few years ago. His career slipped a little bit, and he found it hard to get into the WA side. After a tremendous season last year and rebranding himself as a batsman without keeping, he will be one to watch for the storyline alone.
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Who’s in for national selection?
Three WA players currently hold full Cricket Australia contracts. These are Ashton Agar, Cameron Green and Jhye Richardson. While it is unlikely that the Afghanistan test will go ahead, these three may find themselves in the Australian squad and out of the WA team.
However, this is unlikely, and all three should be available for the first section of the Shield at least until the Ashes squad is selected.
On the T20 World Cup front, Agar, Inglis and Marcus Stoinis have all been selected, which will take up a huge chunk of October and November. There will be three significant gaps to fill in the WA lineup.
It is also possible that WA could see some bolters into the Australian setup.
Joel Paris has been very impressive with the ball recently and could be a like for like replacement for Mitchell Starc if he became unavailable. With Australia also having an opening batting spot open, Sam Whiteman and Cam Bancroft could also put their hands up for Aussie selection.
With WA having such a deep line up, there is no doubt that they will be able to fill these gaps.
WA should be able to hit the ground running after being one of the only sides to have a pre-season completely uninterrupted by COVID.
Every team would be happy to be able to play against South Australia for their first game. Luckily for WA, its the side with the privilege.
After an excellent season in 2020-21, WA should be one of the favourites for the Shield. One of the only questions is how many home matches they will be able to play with COVID still moving around the country.
Cameron Green will be one to keep an eye on to see if he can cement his spot in the Australian side full time.
Losing some key players to the World Cup will hurt the side. It will be interesting to see if WA can fill those gaps.
Ashton Agar, Cameron Bancroft, Jason Behrendorff, Hilton Cartwright, Cameron Gannon, Cameron Green, Liam Guthrie, Aaron Hardie, Josh Inglis, Bryce Jackson, Matthew Kelly, Mitch Marsh, Shaun Marsh, David Moody, Lance Morris, Joel Paris, Josh Philippe, Jhye Richardson, Corey Rocchiccioli, D’Arcy Short, Marcus Stoinis, Ashton Turner, Sam Whiteman.
Rookies: Cooper Connolly, Sam Fanning, Jayden Goodwin, Bryce Jackson.
Ins: Corey Rocchiccioli, Cooper Connolly, Bryce Jackson.
Outs: Jake Carder (SA), Brad Hope (TAS), Liam O’Connor.
Predicted First XI
- Sam Whiteman
- Cameron Bancroft
- Shaun Marsh (c)
- Cameron Green
- Hilton Cartwright
- Josh Phillippe
- Josh Inglis (wk)
- Joel Paris
- Matthew Kelly
- Cameron Gannon
- Jhye Richardson
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