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Redbacks Shield hopes crumble early

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The Redbacks chase for a spot in the Sheffield Shield final started badly this morning for fill-in skipper Phil Hughes after his side lost five wickets in the first hour.

Openers Sam Raphael (4) and Michael Klinger (0) lost their wickets early after the Redbacks won the toss and elected to bat.

Hughes lost his wick shortly after, leaving the Redbacks in tatters at 3/13.

In-form batsman Tom Cooper then went shortly before the first drinks session for 19 leaving the side’s hopes in tatters at 4/39.

Callum Ferguson then joined the procession, out for just seven runs.

Hughes’s return to the side followed regular captain Johan Botha’s brain fade last Thursday which led to his suspension.

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Botha admitted to ball tampering last week and was banned for one match for actions Cricket Australia deemed were contrary to the spirit of the game, harmful to the interests of cricket and brought the game into disrepute.

It’s believed Botha used spikes on his cricket boots to damage a ball which was being replaced by a new ball in last week’s draw with NSW.

The former South African international lodged an appeal against his ban but changed his mind in the knowledge if unsuccessful, his suspension could be increased and he might miss the final.

“We made the decision that in the best interests of Johan and the team, we will not follow through on the appeal process,” SA’s high performance manager Jamie Cox said.

“We can now allow the team to settle and focus on what is the biggest match of the season.

“It is obviously disappointing to not have our leader in Hobart and Johan is bitterly disappointed but has accepted the penalty and is very remorseful.”

Hughes will captain the Redbacks, who have finished bottom in the past four seasons and in nine of the 17 seasons since their 1995-96 title win.

In other games to decide the finalists, ladder leaders Western Australia clash with NSW in Canberra, and Victoria host Queensland.

WA (26 points), SA (26 points), NSW (26 points) and Queensland (22 points) can all reach the Shield final.

An outright win for the Redbacks over the Tigers will ensure they reach the final. WA and NSW have an identical outlook.

Queensland must defeat wooden-spooners Victoria outright and hope the Redbacks lose, or there is no outright result in the WA-NSW fixture.

 

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