Tassie earn their stripes with Shield final win
TASMANIA confirmed their place at the top of Australian domestic cricket with a seven-wicket win over NSW in the Sheffield Shield final in Hobart yesterday.
Set 203 runs for victory on the final day, the Tigers reached the target just before tea, making it six straight victories to end the season.
There were a few wobbly moments as the Tigers lost three wickets to an understrength and over-worked Blues attack before South Australian import Mark Cosgrove hit the winning runs with a boundary off Stephen O’Keefe.
The title is the Tigers’ second since joining the national firstclass competition in the 1977-78 season.
Captain George Bailey, who was part of the breakthrough win in 2006-07, said he felt tremendous pride in his teammates.
‘‘ Relieved, elated, everything at the moment, very proud and honoured to be part of this group,’’ he said. ‘‘ I think belief got us over the line in the end,’’ he said. ‘‘ There were times over the past few years that, after that first day, we might not have had the capacity to come back from that.
‘‘ I think the consistency over the season led to the build of belief that we can win from anywhere.’’
The visitors made 5-316 on the first day and 440 for the first innings. Tasmania replied with 453.
Starting their second dig late on Sunday after an all-or-nothing declaration from NSW, Tigers open- ers Ed Cowan and Nick Kruger were lucky to survive when the visitors missed three catches.
The Blues held their chances yesterday morning to dismiss Cowan ( 21) and Kruger ( 31) and Tasmania weren’t out of the woods at 2-71.
After lunch, Bailey ( 25) was run out to make it 3-131.
But Alex Doolan ( 65 not out) and Cosgrove put on a 72-run partnership to see the Tigers home.
Cowan, man of the match for his stoic first-innings knock of 133, said it didn’t get much better than beating his old side in a Shield final.
‘‘ That’s the pinnacle of my career by a long, long, long way,’’ he said.
Blues skipper Simon Katich said the dropped catches hurt his side.
‘‘ We rolled the dice last night and unfortunately we let ourselves down in the field, but it wasn’t through lack of trying,’’ he said. ‘‘ But in terms of the way we played our cricket, we’re very proud of our efforts. We were beaten by a very good team.’’