The Australian Sheffield Shield is first Class Cricket competition of Australia, and takes place every year with every Australian state participating in the tournament. The tournament started in 1892 with only three teams and is one of the best domestic cricket tournaments of the World.
Also see - Sheffield Shield schedule
The Sheffield Shield 2019-20 is scheduled to begin from 10 October 2019 and the final of the tournament will be held from 27-31 March 2020. The state team of Victoria will walk into the tournament as the defending champion, with all the matches being streamed live and exclusive on Cricket Australia’s Official Website. However, the finals of the tournament will be broadcast on Fox Cricket. This season of the league will also take a 2 month break for the Men’s Big Bash League in December 2019 (third week) to February 2020 (second week).
In the year 1891, the Earl of Sheffield Henry Holroyd came to Australia as a promoter of the English Cricket team, which was led by William Gilbert Grace. Prior to his departure, he presented £150 the New South Wales Cricket Association to fund an Inter-colonial Cricket Tournament, to be held annually in Australia. The winner of the Tournament was presented with a Shield, known as the Sheffield Shield after its benefactor. The Shield was designed by Philip Blashki and has the dimensions of 109 cm x 76 cm, and is a non rotating trophy.
The tournament is played in a Double Round Robin format, where each team plays the other team twice - one at home ground and the other at the opponent’s ground. Therefore, the tournament progresses in 10 rounds, with all the teams playing their matches at the same time. At the end of the tenth round, the top two teams play the final at a neutral venue. All the matches are scheduled for 4 days, except the final which is played for 5 days.
Only three teams, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia played the tournament in 1892. However, Queensland joined the tournament in 1926 and Western Australia joined in 1947, making it a 5-team tournament. With the addition of Tasmania in 1977, the tournament is now played between six teams. Each team is named accordingly with its state name, except Victoria. The other teams are NSW Blues, Queensland Bulls, West End Redbacks, Tasmanian Tigers and Western Warriors.
The Sheffield Shield has produced some of the best Australian cricketers. Many of the legendary Australian cricketers have been the Player of the Year, which is determined by the player's performance in the tournament. Some of these players are Allan Border, Ian Chappell, Greg Chappell, Mark Waugh, Mathew Hayden, Ricky Ponting and Philip Hughes.
All the participating teams have lifted the Sheffield Shield at least once, and the 2018-19 season was won by Victoria, which defeated New South Wales in the finals by 177 runs. New South Wales has won the most titles (46 times) and are followed by Victoria (32 titles). Darren Lehmann is the most successful batsman in the tournament (12971 runs) and Clarie Grimet is the most successful bowler (513 wickets).