In the introduction to his book “Grimmett on Cricket” CV Grimmett highlights the beauty of our great game and its ability to capture our imagination.
“There is something about cricket that no other game provides. The things that happened years ago are of unending interest, and always give pleasure in the remembering. There are no other games, I think, that fix their details so deeply on the mind”
Compelling words written about the game I love back in 1948 that ring true to my passion for the game and the many magic moments that are etched in my mind.
With this in mind, let's take a trip down memory lane and look back at one of the more memorable finishes to a Sheffield Shield Final I can remember when Jamie Siddons lifted the coveted Sheffield Shield back in 1996.
Hosting the final, South Australia only required a draw to claim the title but when Adam Gilchrist batted out of his skin for the visitors making a splendid 189 not out off just 187 deliveries dispatching the bowlers to all parts of the Adelaide Oval and beyond. With a first innings total of 9 declared for 520, WA looked well placed to spoil the party.
Paul Nobes did his best to keep SA in the contest with a fighting century and he was well supported by James Brayshaw who made 87 before being run out. The home side were all out for 347, well short of WA's first innings and an elusive Sheffield Shield crown was looking out of reach.
WA would still need to bowl SA out again and in a quest for quick runs posted 8-169 with Tom Moody doing the bulk of the damage with 72. There were still plenty of overs left in the contest and South Australia could chase down the unlikely target of 343 or play it safe and settle for a draw.
The draw proved to be the option taken with things on track when Blewett and Brayshaw put together a solid partnership. However, after a 102 run stand between the two, Brayshaw fell for 66 and after spending more than 5 hours at the crease Blewett also departed soon after out LBW to Brendan Julilan for 72.
As confirmed in a recent chat with Peter McIntyre for the Cricket Library Podcast, Greg Blewett actually went for a drive after being dismissed to let off a bit of steam, Paul Nobes went for a walk along the River Torrens and Boof Lehmann was bandaging himself up to provide some light relief. Meanwhile, Captain Jamie Siddons stoically resisted playing shots for the most important 4 off 134 deliveries that he would have ever made.
When Siddons was dismissed however, it was left to Shane George and Peter McIntyre to stave off the WA bowling attack that were desperate for a breakthrough. Now Shane George is not the worst number 11 in the history of cricket and has 2 first class 50s to his name but with a career average of 9.42 in First Class cricket the signs were not promising. With him at the crease was Peter McIntyre who had made a 3rd ball duck in the first innings and had a less than flattering First Class career average of 8.06. However when something is meant to be, strange things can happen and on this occasion, Peter McIntyre made the most valuable 6 not out, he will ever make and more importantly lasted 45 balls without being dismissed.
Meanwhile, Shane George at the other end lasted 40 minutes at the crease to see South Australia to stumps finishing on 1 not out. A large crowd had spilled in after work and there was jubilation at the Adelaide Oval as the local heroes had achieved a memorable draw and South Australia were Sheffield Shield champions in 1995/96. An epic encounter that will be etched on the minds of many for years to come.
Watch the last two overs of the thrilling Shield Final