Chadd chasing slice of Shield history | cricketnetwork.com

Chadd chasing slice of Shield history

15 February 2017

Chadd Sayers has been just about unstoppable throughout the Shield season // Getty

South Australian seamer in rare air with three rounds of competition still remaining

Overlooked for a Test debut this summer, South Australia's Chadd Sayers is on track to produce one of the most prolific Sheffield Shield campaigns in the competition's 124-year history.

The uncapped swing bowler picked up eight wickets in his side's loss to Victoria in Adelaide last week, taking him to 46 scalps at 16 in just seven matches this season, eight more than any other bowler in the competition.

Sayers stars again for Redbacks

At his current rate of 6.5 wickets per match, Sayers will have 65 wickets to his name by the time the regular Shield season comes to an end next month, assuming current form, fitness and selection persist.

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Such a performance would put him in the upper echelon of the greatest-ever Shield seasons, with Colin Miller's tally of 67 wickets for Tasmania in 1997-98 the all-time record.

And Sayers could conceivably even surpass Miller if the Redbacks snap out of their current two-match losing streak and reach the Shield final, like Tasmania did 19 seasons ago.

The magnitude of Sayers' performance this summer is borne out when compared to 2015-16 campaign of Redbacks teammate Joe Mennie, who took 51 wickets in 11 matches to propel himself into Australia's Test side. Sayers currently sits just five wickets behind Mennie's highly-commendable tally from last season and from four less matches.

Irrespective of whether Sayers hits the heights of Miller and fellow Redbacks quick Shaun Tait (65 wickets in 2004-05), he is on target to produce just the sixth 60-wicket season in Shield history and the first in a decade.

Another five-wicket haul for Sayers

And SA skipper Travis Head says his opening bowler is well aware that he's on course to make history.

"He was letting me know a couple of times during the Shield game that he was closing in on 50 and we've only had three guys do it for South Australia," Head told cricket.com.au, with Sayers almost certain to join Tait, Mennie and West Indian Joel Garner as SA players in the '50 wickets in a season club'.

"Hopefully Chaddy can do it next game and then I think he wants to chase down Taity's 65.

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"He did mention 65 to me and I pulled him back a little bit and said 'Come on mate, 65 is freakish'. But he is on track for that and hopefully he does it because that probably means we'll win more games.

"He's unstoppable at the moment."

While the right-armer's feats this summer seemingly add more weight to his case for a Test debut, a performance of this significance from an uncapped bowler is certainly not without precedent.

In fact, four of the five members of the 60-plus club – Miller, Tait, Chuck Fleetwood-Smith and Ben Hilfenhaus – completed their record-breaking campaigns before they had played Test cricket.

Super Sayers rattles Blues with five-fa

And in a good omen for Sayers, the top three on that list – Miller, Tait and Fleetwood-Smith – all pulled on the Baggy Green for the first time less than a year after their record-breaking seasons.

Sayers has hovered on the precipice of a long-awaited Test call-up for more than 12 months now. The 29-year-old was part of Australia's squad in New Zealand last year and then again for the Tests in Adelaide, Brisbane and Melbourne this summer, only to be touched out for the third-seamer's spot by Jackson Bird on all three occasions.

Ironically, one of the major stumbling blocks that could prevent Sayers from achieving an all-time high Shield season is the prospect of national selection again.

In a footnote to last month's Test squad announcement for their Qantas Tour of India, selectors opened the door for the possibility of a pace bowler being added to the squad following the second Test of the series in Bangalore from March 4.

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The Bangalore Test is scheduled to end the day after Round Nine of the Sheffield Shield gets underway, meaning the nation's fast bowlers would have had three-and-a-bit first-class games since the mid-season break to push their case.

But with the need for "velocity" seemingly paramount in the minds of selectors for subcontinental Tests, the likes of the returning speedsters James Pattinson and Pat Cummins or Bushrangers quick Chris Tremain would likely be ahead of the more steady swing of Sayers.

But Head says while Sayers undoubtedly prefers his home conditions, like all touring quicks, there's no reason why he couldn't do a job for his country in India.

"Looking back a couple of years ago when the Adelaide Oval was reversing a lot, he was very effective with reverse swing,” Head said.

"He asks questions every single ball and he's hitting the stumps every single ball. So there's no reason why in those conditions when the ball is still moving in the air, he can't be efficient.

"He gets wickets all around the country so hopefully that opportunity comes for him."

Sayers will re-commence his quest for history on February 25 when SA host Queensland at the swing-friendly Adelaide Oval, before a trip to the spinning SCG and then the pace-bowling haven in Hobart to close out the regular season.

Most wickets in a Sheffield Shield season

Colin Miller (Tas) - 67 wickets in 11 matches, 1997-98

Shaun Tait (SA) - 65 wickets in 10 matches, 2004-05

Chuck Fleetwood-Smith (Vic) - 60 wickets in 6 matches, 1934-35

Andy Bichel (Qld) - 60 wickets in 11 matches, 2004-05

Ben Hilfenhaus (Tas) - 60 wickets in 11 matches, 2006-07

Paul Reiffel (Vic) - 59 wickets in 11 matches, 1999-00

Chris Matthews (WA) - 56 wickets in 11 matches, 1987-88

Joe Garner (SA) - 55 wickets in eight matches, 1982-83

Stuart MacGill (NSW) - 54 wickets in 11 matches, 2004-05

Craig McDermott (Qld) - 54 wickets in 10 matches, 1989-90

Chadd Sayers: 2016-17 Sheffield Shield season

M: 7| W: 46 | Ave: 16.73 | BBI: 6-32 | BBM: 11-76 | 5w: 4 | 10w: 1

2-51 & 4-57 v WA


6-32 & 5-44 v Tas


0-79 & 2-43 v Qld


2-81 & 0-59 v Vic


3-66 & 5-27 v NSW


5-68 & 4-64 v WA


4-40 & 4-59 v Vic

About the Writer

 @martinsmith9994
@martinsmith9994

Martin Smith is a writer for cricket.com.au. He previously wrote for Yahoo!7 Sport and Fox Sports.