WA struggles in Shield final
Michael Hogan

NSW entered the Sheffield Shield final hoping to match Victoria in the 2003-04 decider or even Queensland two years later.

The Bulls amassed 6-900 in 2005-06 in a logical conclusion to a competition format that requires the home team to merely draw the final to secure the shield.

Victoria applied the same implacable approach in reaching 710 in 2003-04.

Seeking their 46th shield title, the Blues were eager to execute an identical game plan on a flat and lifeless Manuka Oval against a WA team playing its first final in 15 years.

But Jason Behrendoff and Michael Hogan had other ideas.

The duo have been WA’s most consistent bowlers all season and they lived up to their billing with a dramatic afternoon surge.

While NSW captain Steve Smith applied the team plan to the letter by steering the Blues to 1-164 on the stroke of tea, the WA pair quickly ended any prospect of the game being decided by a monumental first innings total.

Behrendorff, the Canberra product feted like a returning hero, produced the greatest dramatics with a reverse-swinging burst of 3-0 that tore the heart out of the NSW line-up.

But Hogan was little less effective with the timely wickets of obdurate opener Ryan Carters and Ben Rohrer in his overs either side of tea.

Returning South Africa reserve Moises Henriques remained 24 not out while Steven O’Keefe survived a first-ball blow to the head from Behrendorff to reach 26 not out in NSW’s 6-242.

It could have been significantly worse for the Warriors when Smith and Carters built a dazzling stand of 121 that made the WA attack appear toothless.

Smith’s footwork was the feature of the first two sessions as he advanced at both pace and spin bowlers on the way to a breezy 75.

Carters, who batted through a Canberra club final at the ground five years ago, was more patient as he approached 50 for the seventh time this season before launching a brief but ferocious onslaught after reaching his half-century.

Enter Hogan. He forced a low edge from Carters to end the second session then claimed the tentative Rohrer in similar fashion to have 35 wickets for the season.

Behrendorff was more spectacular as he gained sharp reverse swing as the ball approached 70 overs.

The left-armer made the critical breakthrough when he took a smart return catch from Smith, whose attempted pull was parried towards the bowler, before Kurtis Patterson and Peter Nevill were undone by the moving ball.

Patterson was castled by a swerving delivery while Nevill edged to slip where Shaun Marsh completed the catch.

The West Australian

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