The bowling of Tasmania's Iain Carlisle could play a decisive role in the 2023/24 Sheffield Shield final - Image: Cricket Tasmania/ Supplied

Followers of Sheffield Shield cricket would be hard-pressed to find a more accurate representative of the term, “taking your opportunity with both hands” this season than Tasmania’s Iain Carlisle.

After in-form bowler Lawrence Neil-Smith suffered a season ending injury, the 24 year old, with just one first class game to his name, made his way into table topping Tiger’s side with three fixtures remaining.

From that point on, it’s fair to say he left no stone unturned in pursuit of a regular spot in the first XI, maintaining his place in the side by taking 14 wickets.

Despite modest figures of 2-75 and 0-37 against Western Australia in his return outing, Carlisle announced his intentions in the following match against Victoria.

With the contest in the balance, the quick put together a devastating spell of bowling, finishing with a career best 4-68 in the second innings to steer his adopted home state to victory and a spot in the Sheffield Shield final.

Now, Carlisle is looking to maintain the high standard he has set for himself when the season decider kicks off in Perth on Thursday.

“It’s been great to have a couple of nice performances and really feel like I’m able to build momentum,” he told The Inner Sanctum.

“It’s certainly filled myself with a lot of confidence, having a few performances under my belt going into the final. It just helps relieve a few of the nerves and makes me feel quite comfortable bowling at this level. 

“I feel like each game, I’ve gotten better and learned something new and I’m sure that will hold me in good stead.”

In Carlisle’s mind, his ability to deliver these performances is indicative of the culture created by what he believes is a bowling unit full of “hunger.”

Departures of veterans Peter Siddle and Jackson Bird prior to the season left the Tigers’ bowling attack in somewhat of a state of flux. The opportunities created in their absence however, has given way to a competitive spirit within.

As evidenced by Carlisle’s sharp rise, the result of this has been the creation of a group of bowlers unwilling to give their opponents an inch.

“This pre-season was really competitive, not really knowing which direction they’d go with the team and stuff like that. I think it gave us a bit of a new light, a bit of a new motivation around the group,” he said.

“Because we all know how good each one of us is, you never feel like you’re in your spot, you always feel like there’s always someone behind you and there’s a lot of competition there.

“That’s forced everyone to perform as well as they have throughout the year.”

Having put in the hard yards to get to this point, Tasmania will be unwilling to rest on any laurels when it meets Western Australia later this week.

Although a final round loss to South Australia means the match will not be contested in Hobart, Carlisle is looking forward to meeting the tough challenge head on.

Specifically, he will be looking to do his part to ensure that the Sheffield Shield does not return to Perth for a third season running.

Moreover, the former Australian under 19 representative will be out to prove he belongs alongside the best at the level, even if it means a grueling five day effort is required.

“They’ve been the standout side over the past two or three years, so it’s a great opportunity to go over there and ruin the party,” Carlisle said.

“Their batters are stand out, especially on their home deck, so it’s a fantastic challenge.

“You’re going up against some of the best batters in the country, so it’s always a great opportunity to test your skills and see how you go.

“Obviously there’s a little bit of added pressure with it being a final, but I’ll be relishing the opportunity to go over there and do as well as I can and hopefully win a game for Tasmania, that’s the main thing.”

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