Bonus-point system to decide Shield final

Joe Burns says the Sheffield Shield final's bonus-point system to decide a winner is good for fans.
Joe Burns says the Sheffield Shield final's bonus-point system to decide a winner is good for fans.

Joe Burns says he will put to the side the quirks of a bonus-point system in this week's Sheffield Shield final that could mean a team dominates but still loses.

The Queensland Bulls will host the defending champion NSW Blues at Allan Border Field from Thursday, knowing they can't just bat their way to a ninth Shield title.

Gone are the days of the top-ranked hosts batting for as long as possible to secure a draw, which until 2019 had meant a win for the host team for nearly 40 years.

Under the new system, the batting side receives 0.01 points for every run scored beyond 200 in its first 100 overs of its first innings.

The bowling side receives 0.1 points for every wicket taken inside the first 100 overs of its opponent's first innings.

For it to come into play the match must last at least 270 overs and the rule is designed to discourage batting marathons that had become a feature of Shield finals played on batting-friendly wickets.

But the system also creates another way to manufacture a result that may not reflect the performance of the two sides, given runs and wickets scored outside those first 100 overs don't earn bonus points.

It means a team could still lose, despite building a huge first innings lead and needing just one wicket for an outright win when stumps are called on the fifth day.

It's a quirk that has crossed the mind of Burns, who also sees the benefit of the rule and has enough on his plate as he contends with a NSW attack led by Test trio Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon.

"You try and win the game, but if you can get the bonus points in the first innings as well you're in a good spot if it's shaping up to be a draw," he said.

"I'd say you approach it at the time if you need to change how you're playing, but I don't think you give it much thought until you get to that moment."

Four of the past seven Shield finals have ended in draws, while only six of the past 37 finals have been won by the side that finished second on the ladder.

"It means the game is in play the whole time," Starc said.

"We've seen in years gone by the home team don't have to win so they can play the way they want and not have to worry about pushing for victory.

"To have the bonus points system there is a big carrot for us, we'll be in the game for the five days."

Queensland have done their best to exploit the old rule in the past, piling on 6-900 at the Gabba before finally declaring as they beat Victoria by an innings and 354 runs in 2006.

"As a batter it was great - on a flat wicket, block them, make a hundred and win the Shield - fantastic," Burns, who starred when the Bulls last won a title on the same ground in 2018, said.

"But this is much better for the fans this way; some of the finals in years gone by have been quite boring.

"And you talk about the Shield final being like a Test match and you never go into a Test trying to draw - its much better having 22 blokes out there trying to win."

Australian Associated Press