New South Wales allrounder Moises Henriques believes Blues teenagers Jason Sangha and Jack Edwards are more than able to handle the occasion of their first JLT Sheffield Shield Final when the decider starts at Junction Oval on Thursday.
Sangha, 19, and Edwards, 18, are the only players under 20 in the 13-man squad to travel to Melbourne for the final against Victoria. Captain Peter Nevill returns to the Blues following the birth of his first child.
Nevill and left-arm finger spinner Stephen O’Keefe are the two changes to the 13-player squad that travelled to Hobart last week and defeated Tasmania by 149 runs.
Henriques, 32, explained that while the experience of himself, Nevill, O’Keefe, and seamer Trent Copeland, will be quite important during the five-day final, he believes Sangha and Edwards will not be overawed.
“They’re two kids that are pretty down to earth … I don’t think they’ll be too nervous ahead of the big game,” said Henriques who has scored 596 runs at an average of 35 in the 2018/19 Sheffield Shield.
Earlier in the season, Sangha and Edwards posted their maiden Sheffield Shield centuries within overs of each other against Tasmania at the SCG in November and have played every game this season.
“I was only saying to them after that last game (against Tasmania), this is the first season I have ever played 10 Shield games whether it’s through Australian selection or injury … and they’ve done it before they turn 20,” Henriques remarked with a grin.
Henriques is one of five players in the Blues squad who were part of the drawn final against Western Australia in 2013/14 when NSW last claimed the Shield by finishing on top of the table.
The other players were Nevill, O’Keefe, Copeland and Australian Test batsman Kurtis Patterson.
Henriques made a pivotal 140 from 314 balls, batting at No. 6, in the first innings of that final at Manuka Oval, Canberra.
“It doesn’t seem like that long (ago),” Henriques said about that final.
“It hasn’t quite sunk in, but once we get to Melbourne and start running around I think that sort of excitement around playing a final will start to kick in.
Previous to 1982/83 the Shield title was decided by the team who finished at the top of the table after the preliminary rounds.
Since the inception of the Shield final concept, the Blues have won 10 times. Victoria has prevailed on seven occasions.
The two states have met twice in the final with one win a piece. The last decider between the teams was 2007/08 won by NSW.
WATCH: Moises Henriques speaks at Sydney Airport.
The only two matches the Blues have lost this season are against Victoria. Form fast bowler Sean Abbott has missed both of those games and Henriques says his inclusion in the squad is a big boost.
“He’s been extremely instrumental in almost all of our Shield wins (this season), especially in the second innings … he’s extra air speed on those wickets, especially if there’s any divots or anything like that, he just becomes an absolute nightmare (for opposing batsmen).”
Abbott has claimed 31 wickets this Shield season at 21.48 including career best First Class figures of 7-45 last round at Blundstone Arena.
“He’s always around 140 kph … and now this year he’s bowling a touch straighter and a little fuller, he’s challenging the stumps a lot more than what he may have done in the past.”
NSW Blues squad
Peter NEVILL (c)
SHEFFIELD SHIELD FINAL
NSW Blues v Victoria
Junction Oval, Melbourne, 28 March – 1 April
Live coverage on Fox Cricket and ABC Radio