The Western Warriors have qualified for Western Australia’s first Bupa Sheffield Shield final in 15 years and coach Justin Langer is understandably proud of his side’s efforts.
The Warriors qualified for the 2013-14 Final by finishing the regular season in second place on the competition table and will play New South Wales at Canberra’s Manuka Oval in a match starting next Friday. The game will be a rematch of the final round of the regular season for the two teams, with the SCG unavailable due to Major League Baseball commitments at the ground.
“It’s very exciting,” Langer said. “We’ve talked about a change in the direction that we’re heading in West Australian cricket, so to get rewards is a nice thing.
“If you get rewarded then people tend to buy into it, through increased work ethic and the real emphasis of looking after your mates and being part of a strong team.
“It’s nice to get those rewards and for the players to feel that, getting rewarded for buying into that principle.”
Looking ahead to playing New South Wales at Manuka again in final, Langer added, “It’s nice to have played against NSW, in a sense, on their home turf at Manuka; we’ll know what to expect.
“One thing we’ve got to remember is, because we’ve got so many young players – I think we’ve got seven players under 23 – these sorts of experiences are like gold.
“Marcus North said after the game that it was like playing a Test match, this game, because every ball was significant.
“For our young blokes to have experienced that leading up to the final, I think that’s going to hold us in good stead for next week.”
“I think it’s going to be great for our young guys to play against the world’s best batsman,” Langer continued. “If Pup plays, we all know how good a player he is and I think it’s going to be brilliant … experience for our young blokes to play against the Australian captain.
“For me, that’s what it’s all about; you’ve got to play against the best players in a pressure situation.
“I think it’s a really positive thing for our young blokes, not just for now, but going into the future.”
The last Shield final WA played in was the win over Queensland at the Gabba in the 1998-99 season, which marked back-to-back titles for the state.
“It’s the pinnacle for Shield cricket … as a domestic player,” Langer continued. “Marcus North, Adam Voges and Shaun Marsh have played 15 years and never played a Shield final.
“I know how much it means and the look on the faces of Marcus North, Adam Voges and Shaun Marsh tonight was like gold – they’re really looking forward to it.
“If we were to play the same team, or a similar team, we’ve bucked the trend of winning with such a young side.
“We’ve picked our young guys all year, not because they’re young, but because we thought they were our best players.
“If we were able to get over the line with these young players, then it bucks the trend of what’s happened in the past.
“It’s so exciting for West Australian cricket going forward.”
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