Test star Steve Smith signed off the summer of his dreams with another century as he led NSW to the Sheffield Shield title.
NSW may have won their first Shield since 2007-08 with a draw in the final, but so dominant was their fifth day position – 464 runs ahead with six wickets in hand – that Western Australia captain Adam Voges agreed to end the match four hours early.
It was a perfect end to Blues captain Smith’s stellar season as he finished unbeaten on 103.
The 24-year-old middle order batsman averaged 54 in 13 innings in the Test series’ against England and South Africa, scoring three centuries.
And he backed it up with an average of 105 across four innings in his return to Shield cricket as he led NSW to glory in their last two matches against WA at Canberra’s Manuka Oval.
“It was nice to get a hundred there at the end and guide the team home,” Smith said.
“I thought I’d try and get there as quick as possible and put more pressure on. And it worked out.”
“It’s just been a whirlwind 12 months for me, everything has just been so amazing and dreams have come true,” he said.
“To back it up with a Sheffield Shield win is very, very special. It’s right up there.”
Smith had plenty of help in the final.
Man-of-the-match Moises Henriques hit a classy first innings 140 before paceman Josh Hazlewood claimed a six-wicket haul to deliver WA a killer one-two blow in their first Shield final in 15 years.
Following WA’s first innings total of 180, rain intervened for the majority of day four, before skipper Smith put the result beyond all doubt with his second innings knock.
Voges said losing the toss hurt his side’s chances, but admitted they were outplayed by NSW.
WA needed to take 20 wickets to become the first away team to win a Shield final since 2004-05, however their bowlers lacked penetration on the flat Manuka Oval wicket.
“It’s a pretty empty feeling to be honest. We haven’t really been in the game,” Voges said.
Despite being well behind entering the final day, Voges said he still started proceedings hoping his side could pull off a miracle victory.
“We knew we had to come out and throw everything we had at that first hour and unfortunately there wasn’t a lot happening,” he said.
“When you still need six wickets and you’re 450-plus runs behind … as much as you don’t want to let it go, it was obviously time.”