Cricket: Langer warns NSW off doctoring Shield pitch

Young spinner Ashton Agar shone last week. Photo / Getty Images
Young spinner Ashton Agar shone last week. Photo / Getty Images

New South Wales could spin themselves out of some silverware if they attempt to doctor a flat pitch for this week's Sheffield Shield cricket final, according to Western Australia coach Justin Langer.

The Blues need only a draw to win the title after beating out the WA Warriors for top spot on the table.

With the SCG unavailable to host the five-day decider, starting on Friday, hosts NSW have been forced to move the game to Canberra's Manuka Oval, where they beat the Warriors by three wickets last week.

In that game, the Blues' pacemen wreaked havoc early, with Doug Bollinger and Josh Hazlewood combining for eight wickets to dismiss the Warriors for 82 in the first innings.

But from that point on it was WA's spinners who shone, with Ashton Agar snaring five for 74 in NSW's first innings, before part-time tweaker Marcus North collected three wickets in the Blues' second dig and Agar chimed in with two.

Langer said if NSW were to seek a flat pitch in a bid to improve their chances of drawing the game, it could end up backfiring badly.

"The great danger for them at Manuka is if they try to keep it too flat, I'm absolutely certain it will start spinning like Mumbai," Langer said.

"We saw it spun on a very good cricket wicket we played on [in Canberra] last week. So if they keep it too flat and they take too much grass off it, I've got no doubt it will spin big time."

NSW were dealt a huge blow yesterday when test skipper Michael Clarke was ruled out due to a fractured shoulder. The Blues will also be without Bollinger, who has been called up for the T20 World Cup to replace Mitchell Johnson.

The Warriors haven't won the Sheffield Shield title since 1999, and are sweating on the fitness of allrounder Mitch Marsh, who is battling a side strain but might play as a specialist batsman.

WA cricket is on a high after winning the T20 Big Bash League and reaching the Shield final.

But Langer, who was appointed coach in November 2012, hopes this is merely the start of something special.

"Winning a Sheffield Shield final would be nice. Winning five or six would be the ultimate."

- AAP

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