Sam Raphael of the Redbacks. Photo: Getty Images
CONCUSSED batsman Sam Raphael hit the winning runs for South Australia against Victoria on Sunday - despite doctors saying there was a risk to his health if he batted.
Raphael, in his fourth game, emerged as an unlikely and controversial hero with a calm 27 not out.
He retired hurt on Saturday with his score on 11 when struck on the head by a brutal James Pattinson bouncer. The 25-year-old was concussed and told by doctors there was risk in batting on Sunday but at the fall of the seventh wicket, Raphael returned.
''I don't remember anything from yesterday but I will remember that one today for the rest of my life, I reckon,'' Raphael said.
Chasing 189 to win, the Redbacks made 9-191. ''For the team, for character, this is probably one of the best wins we will ever have,'' captain Johan Botha said.
Botha has dared his players to dream of a Sheffield Shield final after a tense one-wicket triumph against competition pacesetters Victoria on Sunday. He believes the Redbacks shed their tag as perennial shield easybeats with their nail-biting last-day victory.
The Bushrangers collected first-innings points to move to the top of the table with 22 points, two ahead of Queensland.
And the Redbacks, who before this season hadn't won a shield game since 2010, jumped to third spot on 18 points. South Australia banked consecutive four-day wins for the first time since February-March 2009, and a third win in a shield season for the first time since 2008-09.
''Before the game some guys were asking me, 'Are you just trying to avoid the wooden spoon','' Botha said. ''And I said, 'As a group we are playing to be in the final'. Three wins [this season] is the start of something.
''Teams around the country have probably thought before that if they can keep South Australia under pressure for short periods in shield cricket then they [SA] will fall over.
''But what the boys have shown this summer … we have been under pressure for long periods and we have absorbed it and transferred the pressure and we have won games.''
SA endured a roller-coaster ride to victory, with Tim Ludeman (49) and 19-year-old Travis Head (35) falling just when the Redbacks appeared comfortable.
Victorian captain Cameron White lamented a missed opportunity for his side, who controlled much of the game. ''Our skills let us down,'' he said.