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Redback-to-back finals berth

South Australia’s pursuit of a drought-breaking Sheffield Shield title will continue next season.

Consecutive Shield final appearances have failed to secure the West End Redbacks their first title since 1995/96 but have confirmed the improvement in the high performance programs in recent seasons.

The Redbacks booked their place in the 2016/17 final after a thrilling last series of Shield games across Australia.

Top side Victoria then took advantage of its hosting rights, securing a third successive Sheffield Shield crown by drawing the final in Alice Springs.

The Bushrangers dominated the final after winning the toss, batting for nearly two full days for a first innings total of 487 and then establishing a 200-run lead before batting a second time and continuing into the fifth day.

Set an enormous target of 524 from 69 overs, the Redbacks were 6/236 when play was called off, cueing celebrations from the Victorians.

“We battled hard for the five days but Victoria batted extremely well in the first innings,” said SA captain Travis Head, who made an unbeaten 137 on the final day.

“Coming in (to bat) on day three … was always a tough ask. (I’m) proud of the guys for holding on for the draw and not giving them the satisfaction of the win. It was a long week.”

It was a disappointing end to the season but the progress of South Australian cricket was underlined by the performances and achievements of a number of Redbacks.

Chadd Sayers was named Australia’s Sheffield Shield Player of the Year after taking 62 Shield wickets, only five wickets behind the all-time record held by Colin Miller and three less than Shaun Tait, who holds the SA record. Sayers is now ranked tenth on SA’s top 10 all-time Shield wickets list with 201 in 46 games.

Chadd Sayers of the West End Redbacks celebrates after claiming the wicket of Jon Holland of the Bushrangers during the Sheffield Shield final between Victoria and South Australia on March 27, 2017 in Alice Springs.

Alex Carey also made the most of his first full season behind the stumps. The wicketkeeper broke the Sheffield Shield record with 59 dismissals in a single season, as well as recording just the fourth 50-dismissal, 500-run season in Shield history.

Tom Cooper bounced back from the disappointment of missing out on a State contract to be SA’s heaviest Shield runscorer with 736, including two centuries. He also broke the South Australian record for most catches by a non-keeper in a season, taking 22 chances from his 11 matches.  

Five Redbacks also represented Australia, fulfilling SACA’s ambition of increased representation at the highest levels.

Callum Ferguson returned from another serious knee injury and then made his Test debut against South Africa in Hobart. He shared his baggy green presentation with paceman Joe Mennie, who had made his ODI debut the previous month.

Daniel Worrall also made his national ODI debut, Head scored his maiden ODI century at Adelaide Oval on Australia Day and Adam Zampa continued to play a mix of ODI and T20I.

Shield Batting    
  Runs Ave
Tom Cooper 736 38.73
Jake Lehmann 692 40.7
Travis Head 645 43
Jake Weatherald 634 31.7
Alex Carey 594 33
Callum Ferguson 507 25.35
     
Shield Bowling    
  Wkts Ave
Chadd Sayers 62 19
Kane Richardson 32 25.93
Adam Zampa 30 38.3
Joe Mennie 27 20.74
Daniel Worrall 26 20.74
Travis Head 12 45.25