The Alcohol.Think Again Western Warriors’ 2016-17 campaign may be over barely 24 hours but coach Justin Langer says he already cannot wait for next season to begin after the side’s strong finish.
WA missed out on qualifying for the Shield final by 1.76 points despite Sunday’s intense six-run win over New South Wales.
Instead, South Australia claimed second spot and a place in the Shield final against Victoria in Alice Springs.
"On one hand I’m really frustrated, we’ve just one five of our last six Shield games and haven’t made the Shield final,” Langer said.
"In the same breath, I’m so proud of the way the players have gone about it, particularly since Christmas.
"They worked really hard before Christmas. The way they’ve finished off so strongly. To send Adam Voges off the way they did yesterday, it’s a great tribute to them.
"As much as we’re all looking forward to a break, I actually can’t wait for next season now.
"I can see how much talent there is and how closely knit the team is.
"That’s really exciting for WA cricket.”
Langer was full of praise for the state’s young brigade coming through, including Hilton Cartwright who finished the Shield season with the competition’s second most runs (861).
Ashton Turner was fifth on the scoring list with 742 runs, while he displayed his all-round game with a six-wicket haul against NSW on Sunday.
Left-arm quick Jason Behrendorff finished the campaign with the fourth most wickets (37), despite effectively missing four games with a fractured fibula.
Simon Mackin wasn’t far behind, finishing with 35 scalps to have the sixth most in the Sheffield Shield including two 10-wicket hauls.
David Moody also claimed 28 wickets, while debutants Josh Inglis and Cameron Green showed huge promise.
"We’ll keep promoting as many homegrown players as we can. They’ve stepped up,” Langer said.
"When you give them opportunities, particularly with real talent, David Moody’s improvement has been unbelievable this year, Cameron Green had a really good time of it, Simon Mackin has been brilliant, Jason Behrendorff you see the unbelievable value in him when he’s fit.
"We’ve got really good depth of talent, we’ve just got to make sure they’re fit and ready to go for the start of the season, not towards the back-end like this year.”
Langer acknowledged WA’s slow start, losing their first four games, as crucial to the state breaking through for that elusive Shield crown.
"We haven’t been great starters,” Langer said.
"We seem to come home really strong. Maybe the momentum of the Big Bash, we tend to find momentum at the end of the season. We’ve got to start better.
"We have to make sure our bowlers are all fit. I think it was our third Shield game where we had 11-12 guys unavailable for selection.
"That’s really hard in a small squad. It tests our depth. I think that’s the biggest thing.
"I also sense our guys coming through are getting used to winning. They’ve won a lot of cricket and that’s a really positive thing.
"It keeps me awake at night thinking about how we’re going to win a Sheffield Shield final.
"It’s disappointing we’re not there this year. We’ll keep chipping away at it.
"They’re obviously hard to win, because we haven’t won one for 20 years.”
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