A fortnight ago Chris Tremain’s Victorian side sat last on the JLT Sheffield Shield standings but now, after back-to-back wins over Western Australia and NSW, the Bushrangers’ quest for a fourth straight title is very much alive.
After going through the first six games of the summer without a win the Vics, incredibly, are now third and face Tasmania in what has essentially become a preliminary final to determine which of the two sides will face Queensland in the decider.
The Vics have won three of their last four encounters and after last weeks’ Fawad Ahmed-inspired victory over the Blues, they sit on 39.11 points, trailing Tasmania (39.29) by less than a point, with Queensland another eight points clear on top.
“I was pretty excited with one (win) and then we got to the second, then the third,” Tremain, the Orange District Cricket Association 2008-09 player of the year, said.
“You do throw that comment out there ‘let’s get two in a row, or three, or four’, but that never actually determines how you want to play your season because you always want to be in the final at the back end.
“You want to be playing your best cricket at the pointy end of the season and we’re starting to do that now, the reward for doing that is the Shield final and playing in it and another thing winning it.
“We’ve done that for the last three years and I don’t why we can’t do it four times in a row however we do have a big hurdle to jump over with a game against Tasmania next week.”
Last week’s victory over the Blues was a tense, 23-run win, secured by Ahmed’s stunning spell late on day four. He snared three wickets in as many overs to finish with 5-94 and remove NSW’s tail.
The victory was built on a first innings ton from Marcus Harris (109) and a second innings century from Travis Dean (106).
“It’s sort of like a spinner taking wickets on the last day, a batsman scoring a hundred on the first day,” Tremain said.
“That was a really good knock (from Harris), the way he absorbed the pressure from the spinners especially Steve O’Keeffe who ended up with [8-77] … it was phenomenal.
“It actually set up the way we wanted to play that game, it gave us a little bit of a lead after we bowled them out and then Travvy Dean went on the back of that and scored a lovely ton in the second innings.”
Victoria’s must-win showdown with Tasmania kicks off on Wednesday, at Hobart’s Blundstone Arena.