• Dr Tony Brady

Getting the Monkey Off Our Back - Queensland Sheffield Shield (1984/85)

Updated: Jul 2, 2019

The Picture: A compilation of personal photos taken over the 5 days of the Shield final.

Winning Queensland Captain Stuart Law holds the Sheffield Shield aloft for the first time. The scoreboard at the end of the game. Allan Border surprised (as was the official photographer I handed my camera to) at the request for a photo, after I managed to get into the closed presentations, Premier of the day Wayne Goss is standing directly behind us.Man of the Match, Carl Rackemann holding the Sheild and the Queensland Bulls’ team mascot, Tiny. The final wicket: Gillespie, caught Rackemann, bowled Jackson.

The 1000 words:


The ‘Holy Grail’ Is Ours


The crowd chants for another player, this time Jimmy Maher, to ‘give us a wave’. He responds and the crowd goes wild. This same scene has been played out with every Queensland player, both ground umpires, the third umpire, scoreboard attendants and even the South Australian batsmen. What is driving this impossibly large crowd to be so jubilant? The answer is simple; it’s the fifth day of the 1994/95 Sheffield Shield final and the ‘Holy Grail’ as the Sheffield Shield has come to be known, is finally Queensland’s for the taking.


Queenslanders had long suffered barbs from other States, being called chokers, laughing stocks, and undeserving of ever winning the Shield. In the sixty-nine years since Queensland had entered the Sheffield Shield competition they had appeared in six finals leading up to 1995 and failed in all of them.1 This prompted sledges of ‘Ah, Queensland: beautiful one day, all out for 75 the next’, and someone had even written ‘Queensland, Never in the History’ amongst the cleaning instructions on the back of the Shield. Winning the Shield was not merely a sporting goal, it was an absolutely necessity if Queensland wanted to restore their sporting pride.


Queensland in 1995, was achieving great things in other sporting arenas, the rugby league team had dominated the State of Origin competition, the Brisbane Broncos had won back-to-back premierships, in basketball the Bullets were the 1987 premiers, and in the pool Kieran Perkins was among the many Queensland swimming stars. However, this abundance of talent could not abate the inferiority complex Queenslanders faced as summer rolled around each year and the State cricket team pulled on their whites.2 All this changed in the summer of 1994/95, Queenslanders could hold their heads high, they had won the ‘Holy Grail’ and put their State on the sporting map, just as Expo ‘88 had placed Queensland on the Cultural map. Queensland finally had the monkey off their back.3


And on the Fifth Day, ‘The Holy Grail Was Won’


When he retired from cricket on 14 February 2008, Michael Kasprowicz was asked ‘what was the highlight of his career’? In a resume spanning 19 seasons for the Queensland Bulls and 38 test matches for Australia, Kasprowicz chose a game he did not play in. His most cherished memory, he stated, was being 12th man in the team that at 3.52pm on Tuesday, 28 March 1995, finally won the Holy Grail and ended the longest running sporting drought in Queensland history.4


The game began with South Australia winning the toss and electing to bat first. Inspired bowling by Queensland quickly had South Australia reeling, with their four top batsmen back in the pavilion and only 30 runs on the board. A middle-order revival by Brayshaw, Webber and Nielsen was routed and South Australia were all out in their first innings for 214, and at close of play on day one, Queensland had accounted for 36 runs without losing a wicket. The Queensland batsmen dominated day two and the team had reached 3/409 at close of play, with Barsby personally accounting for 151 runs. Back in the dressing rooms, former Queensland cricket captain John Maclean grabbed Barsby, and with tears of joy running down his face, he said, ‘you don’t know what you’ve done’.5


Border and Love were at the crease at the end of day two and they batted throughout most of a rain interrupted third day, with Love finally out for 146; however, the crowd was still with Border. In what many believed would be Border’s Shield swansong, no better tribute could be asked than a century in the winning final. Border, playing in the wet conditions, kept the small crowd entertained with shots to all parts of the field and as he accumulated his runs the crowd cheered him on chanting ‘Border walks on water’. By close of day three, Border was 76 not out and Queensland had moved to 4/501.6 Now even the South Australian media was starting to concede they could no longer win, with their local newspapers reporting their team had ‘slashed their wrists on the opening morning … and was copping a physical and emotional battering … against Queensland’.7


Day four saw Border move to 98 before he edged a delivery from Johnson onto his stumps. With this, the effervescent crowd hushed for the first time in four days. Border was halfway to the dressing rooms when the crowd realized this may be their last chance to acknowledge a legend and they exploded into a standing ovation. Border acknowledged the crowd, waving his bat in salute to all parts of the ground, before disappearing into the pavilion for the last time. The score was 5-553 and the remaining Queensland batsmen each contributed to Queensland’s first innings total reaching 664. They now led South Australia by 450 run with just over one day’s play remaining, and Queensland still had an innings in hand if needed.8 Everyone knew the Shield was now in Queensland’s hands, all that remained to finally drive the monkey from their back was to win the Shield outright. It was fitting that Rackermann, who broke down crying at Queensland’s near miss ten years earlier, was the man to end the South Australia’s innings, catching Gillespie off the bowling of Jackson. Queensland had won the ‘Shield of Dreams’ and the ‘monkey had slipped off Queensland cricket’s back and disappeared into the celebrating crowd never to be seen again’.9


Nineteen players appeared in First-Class matches for Queensland in 1994/95: TJ Barsby; AJ Bichel; AR Border; GAJ Fitness; SL Flegler; ML Hayden; IA Healy; PW Jackson; MS Kasprowicz; SG Law; ML Love; CJ McDermott; JP Maher; MP Mott; CG Rackermann; GJ Rowell; WA Seccombe; A Symonds; D Tazelaar, those in bold contested the final, with Kasprowicz as the 12th man.


Each of these men contributed towards winning the Shield, however they were not alone; 267 players had paved the way before them, and the crowd at the Gabba over those five glorious days also played their part in capturing the ‘Holy Grail. As Rupert McCall aptly stated:


We played the part with all our heart. We called them on the field;

They heard the pack, they waved us back.

And then they won the Shield. 10


#queenslandcricket #australiansports #queenslandbulls #sportshistory #sports #history #australianhistory #sportingdrought #1994 #1995 #queenslandhistory #cricket #sheffieldshield #historywithheart


References


1. Connolly, S. 2002. ‘Fed: Qld no longer laughing stock of cricket’ AAP General News, Available from; ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip,url,cookie,uid&an=74C1312480709&db=an%20%20h&scope=site&site=ehost | Pramberg, B. 1995. ‘A tale of hard luck stories’. Courier Mail (Brisbane), 24 March 1995, p.11.

2. Connolly, S. 2005. ‘Shield win a turning point for the State’. Townsville Bulletin 26 March 2005, Sport, p.94

3 Connolly, S. 2005. ‘Shield win a turning point for the State’. Townsville Bulletin 26 March 2005, Sport, p.94 | Goss, W.K. 1995. ‘Premier of Queensland’. Hansard, 29 March 1995 pp.3-4. Available from; http://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/view/legislativeAssembly/hansard/documents/1995/950329ha.pdf

4 Dorries, B. 2008. ‘Shield triumph tops Kasper's highlights’. Courier Mail, (Brisbane), 14 February 2008, Sports, p.96.

5 Waddingham, S. 1995. ‘FABULLOUS That Shield's Almost Ours’. Sunday Mail (Brisbane), 26 March 1995, p.1.

6 Dawson, A. 1995. ‘Border gunning for a ton - Bulls court a fairytale ending’. Courier Mail (Brisbane), 27 March 1995, Sport, p. 32 | Tucker, 1995, p.15.

7 Dowling, P. 1995. ‘SA learns hard lesson’. Advertiser (Adelaide), 26 March 1995, Sport, p. 39.

8 Falkenmire, 2005, p.42 | Queensland Cricket, 2007. Web Site, Seasons, ‘History & Statistics’, Available from; http://cricketarchive.com/Queensland/Seasons/index.html

9 Dawson, A. 1995. ‘Queensland break drought - Outright win ends curse’. Courier Mail (Brisbane), 29 March 1995, Sport, p. 64 | Queensland Cricket, 2007.

10 McCall, J.R., ‘How the Shield was Won’, in The Holy Grail Is Ours - Queensland Sheffield Shield Glory. 1995, Swan Publishing, p. 13.