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Redbacks vow continued improvement but brace to lose players to national side

Cricket

South Australia produced a remarkable turnaround this domestic season with a new captain and coach, and now they’ve set themselves the task of consistently challenging for trophies.

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The Redbacks lost the Sheffield Shield final to Victoria by seven wickets in Adelaide yesterday in their first appearance in the decider in 20 years.

After winning just one match in each of last year’s domestic one-day and Shield competitions, the Redbacks surged to the finals in both tournaments this summer.

While disappointed to not claim a trophy with a young and aggressive squad, captain Travis Head believes his side’s stark improvement is a sign of things to come.

“I’m proud, but not satisfied,” he said.

“If we look at in honestly and play more consistent, it’s going to be scary because we’ve got ourselves in two finals and there are probably a few blokes in the change rooms who are really disappointed with their seasons.”

The Redbacks are now one season through a three-year plan that was introduced when Jamie Siddons was announced as the state’s new coach last May, and judging by current results, they are well and truly on track.

After losing the 50-over tournament final to NSW, they worked their way to the top of the Sheffield Shield ladder off the back of positive cricket, illustrated by the fact they led the competition for bonus points accrued off the initial 100 overs of each team’s first innings.

It also saw the inclusion of leg-spinner Adam Zampa in Australia’s Twenty20 and one-day squads, as well as the recent call-up of Head.

“The hard part is now we have players performing well enough to lose them to Australia,” coach Siddons said.

“The No.1 goal is get something underneath that so we stay on top and winning like New South Wales and Victoria do.”

Meanwhile, back-to-back Sheffield Shield champions Victoria see no need for the competition’s final format to change in 2016-17.

Dull draws have dominated the competition’s decider for the past three years, but Bushrangers captain Matthew Wade believes the fact his team became the first side to win the final from second spot in 11 years shows there is still some life in the contest.

“This game of cricket is as good as any game of cricket you’re ever going to watch,” Wade said.

“It to-and-froed for three or four days and we weren’t home until we managed to get a few over the rope [on Wednesday]… we’ve just proven that you can win from second and it was terrific game of cricket.”

More than 11,000 people turned out across the five days at Glenelg’s Gliderol Stadium to watch the Bushrangers beat South Australia by seven wickets, amidst speculation the final could be the competition’s last.

Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland indicated at the start of the season that he felt the final should be scrapped, while it was also reported this week that joint-premiers could be announced in the future in the event of a draw.

But Wade didn’t mince words: “I don’t like it. I don’t like that at all,” he said.

“I understand if there is a reason or if there is a logical way to go to change the Shield final. I’m all for that… but at the moment there’s no clear-cut decisive way that we should go so just leave it how it is.”

A number of young stars on both teams also made their name in the final, including the likes of Marcus Stoinis, Travis Dean, Peter Handscomb and Jon Holland for the Bushrangers.

And Wade believes for that reason alone the fixture is an important one.

“To get the experience to bowl where there’s no prizes for second, just shows that the Shield final’s a valuable game in our schedule.”

-AAP

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