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BBL could inspire WA to Shield success

By Chris Pike
25 February 2014 04:13PM EST

THE WACA have already won their first silverware in a decade this summer and WA skipper Adam Voges believes their Big Bash League triumph could provide that added belief to win a Sheffield Shield title.

Coming into the 2013/14 season, Western Australia had not won a BBL title at all despite making two finals, not won a one-day title since 2003/04 and not a Shield crown since 1998/99.

They weren’t able to change that in the Ryobi Cup, but did win the Big Bash earlier this month winning the final at the WACA Ground over the Hobart Hurricanes and now currently sit on top of the Shield table after two straight wins in Perth over Tasmania and NSW since the resumption.

WA will now finish the Shield season with two away games to Queensland and NSW but they are in a strong position to go and make the final currently sitting ahead of South Australia on percentage with both on 24 points.

However, with NSW (24 points), Queensland (16) and Tasmania (16) still also holding out hope of reaching the decider, Voges knows that the Warriors can't take anything for granted.

He does think, though, that the experience of winning the BBL for many of the players and the WACA organisation could give them that added confidence of breaking the state's drought.

"I've got no doubt that our success in the Big Bash has created a real buzz around the WACA at the moment, and you can feel that from our support staff to the playing group and everyone who works here. It's something we have worked bloody hard for over the last 10 years to try and achieve, and now that we have had a small taste hopefully we can continue that on," Voges said.

"We said at the start of the season that we wanted to play in the Shield final and that hasn’t changed. What we have done is play well enough to be in a position to really challenge for that now and we will spend this week recovering, and getting ourselves as right as we possibly can to get ready for a big couple of weeks coming up."

The reasons for WA's rise this season is down to a combination of senior players such as Voges, Marcus North and Michael Hogan delivering, and young players like Jason Behrendorff and Sam Whiteman continuing to step up.

North (832 runs at 92), Voges (685 at 76) and Whiteman (591 at 59) occupy three of the top six spots in the Shield run-scoring list while Hogan (31 wickets at 22) and Behrendorff (25 at 23) are two of the top six wicket takers.

Voges was man of the match in the win wrapped up on Sunday against NSW by eight wickets for his superb 155 in WA's first innings and he is happy with his current form, but also with the rest of the squad who continue to step up.

"I was really happy with this game and to be able to again have that partnership with Sammy was crucial. I'm very pleased because I thought their attack came at us really hard so it was a big test for us, and to get through that and come out of the other end I was rapt. I know I still have a lot of work to do, but hopefully I can continue to lead the team and keep scoring a lot of runs," he said.

"I guess our senior players have stood up this year which has been really important. We do have a good balance of youth and experience at the moment, and it's great to see these young players developing but I'm even more pleased with how our more experienced blokes are going, and setting the standard and leading the way.

"That has been crucial and we are now in a terrific position but we have been here before, and stumbled at the final hurdle so we understand we have a big road trip coming up and need to take points out of that. We have played really good cricket the last couple of weeks, though, and take a lot of confidence out of that."

Emerging left-arm quick Behrendorff has continued to develop right through the season and now has 25 Shield wickets for the campaign on the back of an impressive BBL showing for the Scorchers.

Against NSW, he finished with match figures of 8-92 including the first five-wicket haul of his career in the first innings.

"He was outstanding and he has been terrific all year for us with the ball," Voges said.

"It was a bit of a strategic to leave him out last game even though he had a bit of a sore toe, and he was 100 per cent fit and didn’t let us down. He bowled superbly well, took his first five-wicket haul and nine wickets for the match so he was outstanding."

The game against NSW was always going to be crucial with the Blues coming to Perth on top of the Shield table.

Things were evenly poised after two days with WA 5-263 in reply to NSW's 344, but a 189-run partnership between Voges and Whiteman set up the Warriors' strong position.

By stumps on Day 3, NSW was 4-102 in its second inning still needing a further 16 to make WA bat again but that proved quite an ordeal.

In the end, the Blues lost 6-3 in the space of 52 balls to be all out for 126 and leave WA needing just nine to win.

Youngsters Cameron Bancroft and Marcus Harris played shocking shots to be out cheaply, but North and Voges saw WA home after a morning of cricket that Voges could hardly describe.

"I haven’t seen too many mornings like that to be honest. I guess going into today's play we knew that we had worked really hard over three days to get ourselves into a reasonably good position, and the game plan was pretty simple," Voges said.

"We wanted to keep it dry and close down the scoreboard as much as we could, and we knew we would get some opportunities. Never in my wildest imagination did I think it would play out as it did, but obviously we are very happy in our change rooms at the moment."

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