WA’s inaugural Sheffield Shield champs inducted to WA Hall of Champions

The surviving members of WA's inaugural 1967-68 Sheffield Shield squad.
The surviving members of WA's inaugural 1967-68 Sheffield Shield squad.

WA’s first Sheffield Shield winning team has been inducted into the WA sporting Hall of Champions.

The WA Cricket Association (WACA) congratulated the 1967-68 team on its induction at the WA Australian Institute of Sport annual dinner.

WACA chief executive Christina Matthews said the manner in which this team won the Shield demonstrated the determination and perseverance WA cricket had become renowned for.

“This was a triumph that marked the first of now 15 competition titles for WA; the third most of any state,” she said.

“And that achievement is given more significance when realising we sit behind NSW (46) and Victoria (30) and ahead of South Australia (13); the three founding states of the Sheffield Shield competition, with a significantly longer playing history than WA.

“This celebration also coincides with the 30th anniversary of WA’s first Women’s National Championships win (WNCL) of the 1986-87 Season and both should serve to inspire the current generation of players as we enter new Sheffield Shield and WNCL seasons this month.”

WA defied an opening-round defeat and a gruelling travel schedule of that 1967-68 season to record a remarkable win, wresting the title from Victoria.

The side was soundly beaten by South Australia in Adelaide in February 1968, before rebounding across the subsequent weeks to record wins against Queensland in Brisbane, NSW in Sydney and Victoria in Melbourne.

The competition was a state of early challenges for WA, followed by steadfast determination as not only was the team sent into bat after losing the toss in each of its matches, it also suffered significant early losses of wickets, forcing it to recover from difficult positions to snare victory.

WA fell to 3-8 against NSW at the SCG, but went on to post 353 as a result of centuries to vice-captain John Inverarity and Jock Irvine, before bowlers Graham McKenzie and Laurie Mayne routed the home side for 121, forced it to follow-on, then bowled the hosts out for 131.

Tony Lock’s men then stumbled to 6-71 on their way to 195 against Queensland a week later, before the captain and Mayne tore through the host’s middle-order to tail-end, taking 6-13 in the first innings to hold a slender 20-run lead. WA went on to win by 144 runs.

WA’s final match, against reigning Shield winner Victoria, defied its previous late starts.

The hosts’ captain Bill Lawry sent WA into bat, but did not expect Inverarity to compile an imposing 173 and hoist the visitors to 405 in the first innings.

Mayne and Lock combined for nine wickets as WA dismantled Victoria for 196, forcing the follow-on and bowling the hosts out again for 227.

WA strolled to its 20-run target without loss to record a 10-wicket win and the state’s first Sheffield Shield win when competing on a full-time basis.