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Shield title caps WA season of dominance

Captain Shaun Marsh admitted shedding tears after Western Australia ended a 23-year drought by claiming the Sheffield Shield when the final against Victoria ended in a draw.

The state completed a remarkable season of domestic cricket dominance across the formats when Marsh and rival skipper Peter Handscomb agreed to an early finish after the morning session on day five at the WACA with an outright result no longer possible.

WA were 7-400 when the match ended, boasting a mammoth lead of 480 runs, and needing only a draw to claim the title.

It is a first Shield title for Western Australia since the era of Adam Gilchrist, Michael Hussey, Simon Katich and Damien Martyn helped the state triumph in 1999.

Marsh, 38, made his Shield debut in 2001 but had never got hands on the trophy.

“It was pretty emotional and I shed a few tears in the dressing room,” said Marsh, who will consider his playing future.

The latest success means WA is now home to the Shield, domestic men’s one-day title and the men’s and women’s BBL crowns – via the Perth Scorchers – despite the hindrance of a closed state border for much of the season.

While WA had to settle for a draw, they dominated most sessions in the final, having also overpowered Victoria by an innings and 51 runs just a week earlier.

Young allrounder Aaron Hardie continued his fine batting form from day four and was 174 not out when the match ended.

“That (174-run) partnership between Whitey (opener Sam Whiteman) and Hards was among the best I have seen in my 21 years,” said Marsh.

“It took a lot of hard work to get into this position, and I’m so proud of everyone.”

Western Australia resumed at 3-313 boasting a lead of 393, but any hopes of Victoria breaking through soon evaporated.

The only wicket to fall was Joel Paris trapped lbw by Jon Holland for 21.

Hardie pressed on, scoring 25 boundaries and a six in his 311-ball innings.

Test fast bowler Scott Boland was only able to deliver four overs on the final day, eventually finishing with Victoria’s best figures (2-35 from 25 overs) during WA’s 163-over second innings.

The match was marked by the contributions of young players with Hardie posting his highest first-class score and his second century.

WA allrounder Teague Wyllie became the youngest player to win a Shield final at 17 years and 346 days.

Victoria were left to rue sending Western Australia into bat after winning the toss, with the home side reaching 3-290 at the end of day one.

Cameron Bancroft’s imperious 141 set WA on their way, while Whiteman backed up his 85 with 123 in the second innings.

Whiteman was named player of the match for his twin scores, having faced 517 balls during the game – just 33 deliveries short of the record for a final.

“It is exciting times for us, we have some exciting talent coming through and that was on show over the five days, so hopefully this is the start of something special for WA cricket,” Marsh said.

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