New South Wales out to prove depth of youthful batting in Sheffield Shield final


One of the most famous sporting victories of recent history was the curse-breaking campaign of the 2016 Chicago Cubs to win the Major League baseball club’s first World Series in more than a century. It was built largely upon a formula of marrying up a young and dynamic batting and fielding line-up to a seasoned and powerful pitching roster: young hitters, old pitchers.

That formula is not a million miles from the one that New South Wales will take into this week’s Sheffield Shield final. The success or otherwise of the approach will likely give pause to other states at a time when Australian cricket is looking ever more fervently for a fresh batting generation to replenish the huge gaps likely to be left by the likes of David Warner and Steven Smith in coming years.

It was only a matter of weeks ago that Mark Taylor, the former Australian captain and longtime New South Wales and Cricket Australia board director, raised alarms about what he perceived to be a lack of batting talent coming through in the nation’s most populous state. “It would mean our Test side just won’t be as good, there’s no doubt about that,” Taylor told the Sydney Morning Herald. “The way the numbers in Australia stack up, it’s the responsibility of the two big states to produce their share. If they don’t, chances are Australian cricket will struggle.”

Based on the look of the batting order selected for a humiliating Shield defeat to Tasmania, in which the Blues were shot out for 32, Taylor might have had some valid queries: of the top seven, only the recently recalled Jason Sangha was under the age of 25, and none of Daniel Hughes (32), Nick Larkin (30), Daniel Solway (25) or captain Peter Nevill (35) were anywhere near Australian calculations. Of the group, only Kurtis Patterson could realistically have ambitions for the Test team, and faint ones at that based on recent returns.

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