Hayden to lead push to prevent axing of Sheffield Shield final

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

BRISBANE - Former Australian opening batsman Matthew Hayden will spearhead an emotional last-minute push to save the Sheffield Shield final as it faces being swept away by the Twenty20 revolution.

The proposal to cut the Sheffield Shield final has caused outrage among former players, with Queensland’s former Shield-winning captain Jim Maher branding it a “terrible” move and likening the hard-nosed domestic final to an unofficial Test match.

The Courier-Mail can reveal that Chinese, Indian and American investors are jostling for the right to back a Brisbane franchise in next season’s expanded eight-team Twenty20 competition, which will be formally approved by Cricket Australia.

The Queensland Cricket board met on Tuesday night to make final a decision on the name and colours of the Brisbane team. With animal and bird names not permitted, the new side will be the Heat, Thunder, Chargers, Rush, Blitz or Pulse.

The Shield has long been rated as the premier domestic competition in the world and a breeding ground of champions.

There is a growing feeling that cutting back on first-class cricket is the last thing Australia needs after the devastating Ashes.

Hayden, a QC and CA director and the man who opened with Trevor Barsby when Queensland snapped the state’s longest sporting drought to win the 1994-95 Shield, is preparing a passionate plea to save the final.

“Matthew Hayden is going in to bat for cricket . . . he is adamantly against the proposal to have a first-past-the-post Shield competition,” Queensland Cricket boss Graham Dixon said.

Dixon added: “The new Big Bash competition will be exciting but it is still vital to ensure that the longer form of the game, which breeds our future Test cricketers, gets a decent run.”

Queensland Cricket is bound by confidentiality agreements but foreign investors are positioning themselves to take a minority ownership of up to 49 per cent in the Brisbane franchise.

Estimates place the value of a T20 franchise at about 36 million dollars, in the league of NRL giant the Brisbane Broncos. (ANI)

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