The Sheffield Shield could stand a good burnishing, but all it seems to be getting of late is additional tarnishing.
Cricket Australia recently told wicketkeeper Tim Paine to have a spell ahead of the four Test tour of South Africa, rather than expending his energy on the Sheffield Shield interstate competition.
Four others on Australia’s 15-man Test team will be joining Paine in the spelling shed when the Sheffield Shield resumes tomorrow, costing their respective states their services.
“I’d love to be playing but I also realise the benefit I’d get from having 10 days at home and getting away from cricket a little bit,” Paine said on Monday.
The 33-year-old Paine might be the prime beneficiary of a rest prior to playing the Proteas. He was a surprising pick to play in The Ashes, where he played in all five Tests in traditional cricket, and then took part in four of the ODIs against England, followed by two Big Bash League games for the Hobart Hurricanes, the eventual BBL runners up.
In something of an understatement, Paine said, “I’ve had a big summer.”
“I suppose getting back into international cricket … it’s probably taken the edge off me mentally.”
The last thing you want is mental sluggishness when you are tasked with tending for Australia’s pace men.
Speaking of the Australian bowlers, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazelwood are being rested as NSW takes the long pitch over to Perth for Shield duty against Western Australia.
Steve Smith is also a part of that group, as NSW sits atop the ladder in a competition that has lost its lustre of late.
The Blues will be without David Warner, not because he is resting, but because he is busy with national T20 commitments.
Australia leaves for South Africa on February 15. Round six of the Sheffield Shield was the last first-class hit-out prior.
Cameron Bancroft will be playing, however, as he tries to regain his form after a disappointing 25-run average as the opener in the five-Test Ashes series against England. It is likely he will be on the WA squad.