Who knows if they will ever play Test cricket, but members of the TAS First XI are now custodians of a special Sheffield Shield cricket bat as joint-winners of the Independent Schools Cricket Festival in Sydney.
The bat, signed by the Western Australian team that won the 1991-92 Sheffield Shield competition and decorated with the plaques of winners since the inaugural tournament in 1993, is keenly sought after by the schools who compete in the tournament, this year held at St Ignatius College, Riverview.
In their first game against the hosts, TAS won the toss and elected to bat, however wickets were quick to fall. Will Archer built a solid innings, finishing with the only half century of the tour on 58, and TAS posted a competitive total of 159. After an opening partnership of 47 from the Riverview boys, Dom Pilon was unleashed and took two quick wickets. Riverview looked on target to reach the TAS total until the forty fourth over, when Brendan Power came on and took three wickets in two overs leaving the home side 10 short.
After beating the tournament favourites TAS felt well-primed to play Toowoomba Downlands on the second day, with weather restricting the game to 30 overs. Two strong partnerships from Tom Stier and Mitch Foster and Stier and Archer saw out the opening bowlers, and set up TAS for a total of 142. From there the TAS bowlers took over and led by vice captain and man of the match Liam Howard, TAS were able to bowl Downlands out for just 72.
Optimistic of taking out the trophy, TAS had a great start against Shore School, with Liam Howard and Hamish Coupland both taking maiden wickets in their opening overs, leaving the city boys two for zero. Shore put up a fight however, and were dismissed for 149. At four wickets for 107, a TAS win looked likely, however a tight bowling performance from Shore delivered them the match by six runs.
TAS and Shore were named joint winners of the festival while Archer was named best batsman of the tournament and along with Howard, captain Jack Bennett and Will Waterson, included in the Festival XI.TAS will host the festival in 2016.
“It was a tremendous competition and will prepare us well for our semi-final game in the Douglas Shield, which we’ll be playing in the next few weeks,” Bennett said.