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  • Langer urges better pitches for shield finals after Vics win by drawing

    2018 - 09.22

    WA coach Langer’s main gripe was the pitch that overwhelmingly favoured batting.HOBART: Key figures on either side of this season’s Sheffield Shield final, Victoria veteran David Hussey and Western Australia Justin Langer, have expressed different gripes at the way the domestic first-class season concluded, with the Bushrangers holding on for a draw to secure the title.
    Nanjing Night Net

    Hussey’s 37 not-out from 169 deliveries was pivotal in the Bushrangers comfortably surviving for 95 overs on the fifth day at Blundstone Arena. He and captain Matthew Wade (9 not out from 99 balls), who after the match proudly demonstrated a new tattoo depicting the late Phillip Hughes, batted for the last 30 overs of the final day in their total of 4-158.

    While Hussey was delighted to be part of his fourth title-winning team he said he had been more satisfied with the victory in 2009-10 because it involved winning the final, rather than drawing it to claim the shield.

    “I really enjoyed the Queensland win at the MCG [in 2009-10] . . . that was the ultimate because you actually won the game. Fighting out for a hard-fought draw is equally as good, but you want to win the game,” he said.

    “I’ve got a foot in both camps. I don’t understand why it’s a five-day game when we play four-day cricket. I [also] don’t understand why you just have to draw the game to win the shield. I truly believe you have to play the game to win the game and sadly if you get a draw because you finish on top you get to hold it up. Maybe a bit of tinkering needs to be done.”

    WA coach Langer’s main gripe was the pitch that overwhelmingly favoured batting, to the extent that only six wickets fell in the last day and a half of the match.

    “It was really disappointing. We’ve had it two years in a row now,” said Langer, in reference to the 2013-14 final against NSW in Canberra that also ended in a draw.

    “Whilst I’m sure Victoria will have a different opinion, I love the game of cricket – I have since I was a little kid – but watching cricket like that over five days it’s not great cricket . . . when you arrive and basically know it’s going to be almost impossible to get 20 wickets to win the game on a one-day [type] wicket in a neutral venue it’s pretty disappointing. That might sound like sour grapes but that’s just me being as honest as I can be.

    “When we got here there wasn’t a blade of grass on it. When it’s such a one-sided contest, whether it’s throughout the season or the showcase game of the season, for me that’s very disappointing.

    “Cricket Australia are hell-bent on, and made a big deal of it a couple of years ago, playing cricket on really good cricket wickets, and for the majority of domestic cricket we’ve been seeing that. It’s a shame when you play the shield final [it changes].

    “We would never play Test cricket on these kind of wickets so if we’re trying to create a nursery to help guys turn into really good Test cricketers, in my view these wickets, and the one last year at Manuka [Oval in Canberra], are too one-sided. It doesn’t happen throughout the season, and in my opinion it shouldn’t happen in the shield final either. Yes, that team that finishes on top should have an advantage but if they’re the best team in the competition they should win on good wickets, rather than [the type of] wickets we’ve just played on.”

    Langer’s admission of how difficult it was to take wickets seemed in contrast with the team’s decision to bat on at the start of day five, when they already had a lead of 280, because his bowlers would otherwise have had eight more overs at the Bushrangers if they declared overnight. The coach defended the strategy.

    “There were two sides of it. One, we felt that if we got a few more runs then Victoria would just have to go defensive all day, and [two] we were expecting the wicket to deteriorate a lot more and perhaps spin. We saw a couple kept a little bit low but it was so slow that it made it almost impossible to get those wickets,” he said.

    “It was a grind in the first innings . . . and yesterday, even though we batted very positively, we saw it was very hard to get six wickets in the last two days.

    “The wicket didn’t deteriorate like we were expecting it to.”

    Langer hailed his players for their “magnificent” season, in which the teams he coached on the Matador Cup and Big Bash League and were all ahead in the shield final.

    His biggest praise was for captain Adam Voges, whose season average of 104.46 from 11 matches was the highest in history from someone who played at least eight matches in a shield season. The coach urged national selectors to give the 35-year-old a maiden Test call-up in this coming winter.

    “I said to Rod [Marsh, chief selector] and Darren [Lehmann, coach], before they picked Joe Burns [to debut on Boxing Day], that if anyone deserved to get selected he did. He’s just got back-to-back hundreds in a shield game,” Langer said of his captain, who scored a superb 107 in the first innings of the shield final.

    “He’s got 1300-odd shield runs this year, he’s a fantastic person, he’s done well in international cricket before. He’s had a great year, and someone like Chris Rogers has shown that age should be a barrier. Chris Rogers has had a good really good international career now and helped Australia’s success over the past few years coming in late.

    “I think Adam Voges has to get selected for if not the West Indies then the Ashes tour. No-one deserves it more. Not only has he had a great year this year he’s had two great years, and he’s the captain of a very successful team. You like to have leaders in any team, don’t you? And he’s a great leader.”

    This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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