Blues’ generation next secure Shield win


A hugely undermanned New South Wales belatedly kick-started their Sheffield Shield campaign with a hugely tense two-wicket win over Queensland, with the Blues’ young brigade stepping up to make light of a swathe of absences.

NSW reached 8-137 to finish on top in a low-scoring encounter that ended partway through the final session on day three for their first win in four outings.

Thirteen wickets fell on the final day with the bowler-friendly conditions at the Gabba allowing just 645 runs to be scored across the four innings.

NSW were without up to nine regulars with six on Australian duty, while injured trio Peter Nevill (shoulder), Kurtis Patterson (broken finger) and allrounder Sean Abbott (side strain) were also absent.

Replacement wicketkeeper Baxter Holt – playing in just first fourth first-class outing – made a notable contribution in the final stages with a stoic 90-minute knock of 20.

His eleventh-hour dismissal added further tension but Chris Tremain’s unbeaten 16 was equally crucial, while fellow paceman Harry Conway’s lone run proved to be the match-winner.

A Blues victory looked far less likely early on with the visitors 2-2 – including the loss of acting captain Daniel Hughes (1) – before they slipped to 4-49, and then 6-91.

“Those last three hours were very nerve-wracking, I could not sit down,” Hughes, who top-scored for the match with a pivotal unbeaten 86 in the first innings, said.

“That is a huge win with the very inexperienced side that we have.

“They were so good, and their attitudes were awesome.

“To play a full-strength Bulls team at the Gabba, and get a win, is a huge credit to the lads and I’m proud of them.

“That side that we put out is the future of NSW cricket.

“The talent is definitely there – we have to be patient with them.”

Queensland posted 193 in the first innings – led by Usman Khawaja with 63 – and were unable to drive home the advantage with NSW on the back foot at 7-86 in reply.

The fact that Queensland would have gone to the top of the Shield standings with victory, just added further anguish for the home team.

Newly-named stand-by player for Australia’s upcoming Test tour of Pakistan Mark Steketee took a match-high eight wickets, including 3-54 on the final day.

Recent Test cap Michael Neser claimed 3-38 and Jack Wildermuth returned 2-29.