What is the Sheffield Shield in cricket?

Sheffield Shield is Australia’s highest form of first-class cricket competition. Australia, today a giant in the sport of cricket, has a very slow start in its early days of cricket. 15 years after it played its first test match, Henry Holroyd, the third earl of Sheffield realised the declining standard of cricket in Australia. It was during the 1891-92 tour of England to Australia, when Lord Sheffield decided to £150 to the New South Wales Cricket Association. This amount was used to purchase a silver plate and is today known as the Sheffield Shield. A three-team competition in 1892-93 was organized as the first ever Shield Competition.

The seed sown by Lord Sheffield soon grew as all six states of Australia became a part of the tournament by 1978. Since 1927, all matches are played in a four-day format with the exception of the final that is played for five days. All six teams play each other in a double round-robin format where each team plays the other team twice – a home fixture and an away fixture.

Teams are awarded 6 points upon winning, 3 points for each team in a tie, 1 point for a draw and no points are deducted for the team who loses. Bonus points are awarded to teams based on their performance in the first 100 overs of the first innings. The batting side gets .01 points for every run scored above 200 in the first 100 overs of the first innings. In the same duration, the bowling side gets 0.1 points for every wicket taken.

When two teams are tied for same number of points, a quotient rule is followed. The calculation is done by dividing the team’s batting average by its bowling average. The two table toppers contest the final. The table topper is by default the home side and the team finishing second is the away side.

At the end of the season, a Player of the Year award is given to the best performer of the season. Matthew Elliott holds the record for winning three such awards. Darren Lehmann who represented South Australia and Victoria holds the record for scoring the maximum runs in the tournament (13,635 runs). Clarrie Grimmett who also represented the same two teams has taken the maximum wickets in this competition (513 wickets). New South Wales has won the maximum Sheffield Shield titles, winning 47 times out of the 121 editions thus far contested.

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