South Australia cricket coach Darren Berry says the draw with NSW was gut-wrenching but believes his side can still reach the Sheffield Shield final.
South Australia coach Darren Berry has implored his players not to hide behind the heartbreak of being so near, yet so far, from the Sheffield Shield final.
The long-suffering Redbacks went within one NSW wicket of securing their spot in a final for the first time in 18 years.
Instead, an agonising draw against the Blues on Thursday kept the door ajar for four states to reach the Shield decider.
With one game remaining, WA, SA and NSW all have 26 points – though WA head the table because they have banked the most outright wins – and Queensland have 22 points.
All could yet host the final, depending on results of the final round starting on Tuesday.
SA travel to Tasmania, wooden-spooners Victoria host Queensland, while NSW meet WA in Canberra.
On Thursday, Berry’s Redbacks, knowing a win would book their berth in the final, had NSW nine wickets down but the Blues held on for a draw.
“One wicket away from guaranteeing a Shield final – don’t hide behind the heartbreak, it’s gut-wrenching,” Berry said.
“But it’s not how hard you get hit, it’s how hard you get back up again.
“Sometimes elite sport can be brutal. The effort goes in and you don’t get the result.”
Adding to SA’s wounds, they believed Blues tailender Josh Hazlewood was caught behind for what would have been the winning wicket – only for the umpire to reject their appeals.
“Unfortunately in cricket, some go your way and some don’t,” Berry said.
“We’re not allowed to comment, so I will refrain.”
But Berry believed SA, who haven’t reached a Shield final since their 1995-96 title and have finished bottom in the past four seasons, were now ready to challenge for the crown.