Greg Shipperd hailed for getting Bushrangers into Sheffield Shield final

Greg Shipperd. Photo: Pat Scala Greg Shipperd. Photo: Pat Scala
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Greg Shipperd. Photo: Pat Scala

Greg Shipperd. Photo: Pat Scala

Victoria veteran Rob Quiney has hailed the influence of long-term coach Greg Shipperd in helping the team emerge from the post-Christmas tailspin that threatened their Sheffield Shield title bid.

That the Bushrangers finished a game clear atop the table, earning hosting rights for the match starting on Saturday against Western Australia in Hobart, contrasts significantly with their first two performances after the Big Bash League.

Their trip to Queensland ended in an innings defeat, and in the next against NSW they were pummelled by 156 runs on a spin-friendly Wagga pitch they were unable to reach 200 on in either innings.

The then plummeting fortunes of the team coincided with Shipperd being told his role as coach of Melbourne Stars in the BBL was under review, a process which culminated in him being replaced by New Zealander Stephen Fleming.

Shipperd’s situation was complicated by the fact the 58-year-old is out of contract at the end of the season with the Bushrangers, and was in need of a significant lift in on-field results to bolster his case for a new deal.

Given Victoria finished the first half the season on top of the shield table, and had been bolstered by the addition of James Pattinson and Chris Rogers and had unfettered access to Peter Siddle, Quiney said starting February with two hefty losses was a huge shock.

“We’d had such a great start to the season, on paper we had a much stronger side than Queensland in the first shield game back – and they pantsed us,” he said.

While the Bushrangers misread the spin-friendly pitch conditions in Wagga the opener also conceded it was a factor that the NSW players “probably wanted it a bit more than us”.

“It wasn’t a crossroads, a crisis meeting or anything like that. It was more ‘Boys, we’re better than this’. We’ve got to pull our finger out,” he said.

“We had an opportunity to turn it around. We were third after that Wagga game and only a few points away from top spot. We were lucky that we’d set everything up in the first half of the season.”

Quiney said Shipperd and captain Matthew Wade were controlled, rather than apoplectic, in explaining the need for the players to make amends for those losses in their last three matches of the season. That Shipperd was able to maintain that composure during the period he was set to be axed by the Stars, and ultimately was, impressed Quiney.

“I think he kept himself in good order. Obviously it was something he wanted to continue to do and he probably felt it was a bit of a kick in the teeth, but as soon as that was done … his focus has been purely on the Vics,” he said of the coach, who took over as head coach just over 11 years ago.

“Losing those two games, it could’ve been easy for him to lose his shit, but he didn’t. He kept quite calm. He knew what the process was and the end result we wanted to get to.

“One hundred per cent [it was selfless]. He’s always been like that as well. It’s always been team first for him. That’s why he’s such a great coach, and I think a great person. Deep down he might be lying in bed going ‘Geez, I wish I had this role] and stuff like that, but he’s kept that in pretty good check, I think.

“It’s good the Stars have named their coach and everything has moved on. It means that ‘Shippy’ can just focus on us now, which is great.”

While the Bushrangers are the first team in 20 years to go from last to first in the shield, since Queensland in 1994-95, Quiney is still too disappointed about the former to take such a statistic as a badge of honour.

“Ultimately you try and forget about the past when it’s bad,” he said.

Quiney said he was proud of how his teammates had responded to the challenge of providing more rigidity with the bat since being thrashed by Queensland and NSW.

“We knew we could get 20 wickets, but initially it was our batting that let us down,” he said, explaining that he and Rogers aspired to “instead of being 3-40 and being none or one down for 60 or 70 gives us a good platform, and that’s what we’ve done in the past few games”.

“Everyone is averaging 40-plus. That is the really pleasing thing, that blokes like (Peter) Handscomb and (Marcus) Stoinis and contributing so strongly as young players,” he said.

Quiney commended Cameron White, John Hastings and Clint Mckay for their stoic reactions to missing selection in the first XI in the second half of the season. He also said it was a credit to young players – such as Handscomb, Stoinis and Scott Boland – that their form saw them keep their positions even when White, Hastings and Mckay were available.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.