Australian cricket’s worrying 35-year low
South Australia's horrific summer has finally come to a close, with the Redbacks failing to secure a victory in either the 2020/21 Sheffield Shield or Marsh Cup.
Travis Head's side crumbled to a 21-run defeat against Victoria in St Kilda on Thursday, cementing their spot at the bottom of the Marsh Cup ladder.
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Last week, South Australia's uneventful draw against Victoria ensured they also ended the first-class competition in last place for a fourth consecutive year.
In total, the Redbacks played 13 matches throughout the 2020/21 summer, finishing with five draws and eight defeats.
Incredibly, South Australia's bowlers only managed to take 10 wickets in an innings once across both competitions.
According to cricket statistician Ric Finlay, it's the first time any state team has failed to muster a victory in either the Sheffield Shield or one-day competition during a whole summer since 1985/86.
Something for the SA brains trust to mull over during the off-season - in the one-day comp, they were only able to secure 23 wickets in 5 games (and never before today as many as 7 in a game), at an average of 58.22. All while losing 50 wickets at 22.76 when batting.— Ric Finlay (@RicFinlay) April 8, 2021
South Australia came agonisingly close to clinching a much-needed win against Western Australia last month, but were denied by Liam O'Connor's heroic zero not out.
"It's bleak times, there's no other way to put it," Fox Sports reporter Tom Morris said in commentary on Thursday.
Former Redbacks coach Darren Berry responded: "It's sad - it's extraordinary.
"I did invest a fair bit of my time and energy coaching South Australia, and it disheartens me to be honest.
"They've had a couple of games where they've been very close - close but no cigar - and they're going to be close again here.
"They regularly fall over with the bat - that's a fact."
South Australia's lack of depth remains a genuine concern for coach Jason Gillespie, and the problem will only worsen next summer.
Meanwhile, star players Travis Head and Alex Carey are expected to be unavailable for large portions of the 2021/22 season due to international commitments.
These absences leave the Redbacks with an inexperienced squad, boasting just a handful of promising but unproven talents.
There was one positive for South Australia this summer - opening batsman Henry Hunt showed plenty of potential in the Sheffield Shield, registering two centuries and three fifties in seven games.
"Post Christmas we were pretty good. There are no wins in the wins column, but as you go out of the game and debrief, there have been positives," Head said this week.
"Victoria have won one (game) Tassie have won one, they are difficult to come by.
"But our batting this season has been really good … we've declared a lot, we made over 500 in Perth. We've found out a lot about some guys.
"You look at everything at the end of the season. I think we have the right people and hopefully what we add … we can add good people who want to work hard and get better."
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Victoria recorded 7/333 at Junction Oval on Thursday, with skipper Peter Handscomb and young gun Jonathan Merlo both scoring centuries.
Redbacks paceman Wes Agar was the chief destroyer with the ball, finishing with figures of 3/46 from 10 overs.
In response, the Redbacks raced to 2/180 before ultimately falling 21 runs short of the target, with Head and teammate Harry Neilsen both passing 50.
Earlier in the 50-over contest, Victorian opener Sam Harper was bizarrely dismissed via obstructing the field following a third umpire decision.
New South Wales will face reigning champions Western Australia in the Marsh Cup final at Bankstown Oval on Sunday.
Originally published as Australian cricket's worrying 35-year low