Queensland savour Sheffield Shield finale free of Newlands cloud

Usman Khawaja was a world away the last time Queensland hosted the Sheffield Shield final – and had their stride to the title rudely interrupted by the Newlands scandal.

In the last week of March, 2018, Khawaja was part of the Australian team pilloried for egregious ball tampering and an even worse cover-up in South Africa, leaving a young deputy Jimmy Peirson to lift the Shield and then see Matt Renshaw and Joe Burns spirited away to fly across the Indian Ocean as replacement players for the banned Cameron Bancroft, David Warner and Steven Smith.

It’s an experience that Peirson remembers vividly as taking sizeable gloss off what is usually the most glittering prize in Australian domestic cricket. “It was day three of the game when that [scandal] broke and we were just in shock, we didn’t understand what was going on or how big it would get,” he told ESPNcricinfo this week. “Then by the end of that game we had guys literally pulled out of our team song to go ‘mate, pack your bags, you’re going to South Africa’ – Matty Renshaw and Joe Burns, they went over and played.

“So we very quickly went from winning the Shield and the euphoria of that to having them go over there to deal with what was happening. It was a bittersweet moment, we wanted to celebrate our achievement with those guys, but it was also very satisfying to see them go, although the circumstances weren’t fantastic. It’s certainly burned into my memory, that weird feeling in Australian cricket as a whole at that time.”

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