2017-18 JLT Cup preview

Ryan H Roar Guru

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    The domestic One-Day Cup is upon cricket fans again, just one week away.

    Here I have compiled a preview of what is normally a great little tournament to commence the Australian home season. Although unfortunately not televised this time, fans itching to see some cricket can stream all matches live on the CA website.

    This season will be the fifth with the slightly modified structure, this time the round robin matches will be played in Brisbane, Sydney and Perth, with Hobart given the opportunity to host the finals.

    As has been the case in the last two seasons, a seventh team – the Cricket Australia XI – will again feature. Teams may benefit from the return of international stars from India late in the tournament, should they choose to play. Commencing next week, the competition will be played from September 27 until October 21.

    So, the JLT One-Day Cup awaits as the opening act of the home summer of cricket. We take a quick look at how last season fared, followed by a preview of each side.  

    Quick re-cap: Last season (2016/17)
    Last season saw New South Wales claim back-to-back titles after easily accounting for Victoria in the final, comfortably chasing a low total of 186 thanks to an unbelievable spell of 4/10 from Nathan Lyon.

    The Blues won four matches from their six prior to finals while Queensland won five. The Blues had a bulk of top players across the tournament, however Cameron White continued his 50-over domestic dominance with 457 runs, and Alex Doolan of Tasmania averaged a staggering 120 with the bat, contributing four half-centuries.

    The top wicket tally of 15 was shared by Pat Cummins and Doug Bollinger from NSW, and surprise packet Cameron Valente from South Australia, who also cracked a superb maiden century against Victoria.
     

    Cricket Australia XI

    Last season: 7th
     
    Squad
    Max Bryant (QLD), Jake Carder (WA), Jackson Coleman (VIC), Daniel Fallins (NSW), David Grant (SA), Clint Hinchliffe (WA), Jonathan Merlo (VIC), Harry Nielsen (SA), Ben Pengelley (SA), Mark Steketee (QLD), Henry Thornton (NSW), Param Uppal (NSW), Beau Webster (TAS), Mac Wright (TAS).
     
    Another year of the development program for the CA XI, who will open the tournament next week against South Australia. The newest side in the tournament went winless last season after claiming a single victory in their inaugural year.

    This squad is headlined by some experienced domestic players, so look out for names like Jackson Coleman and Henry Thornton. That is, of course, if these players aren’t called upon to represent their own states.

    Coach Troy Cooley was also delighted to have brought on young spinner Daniel Fallins to the squad. The CA side were much more competitive last season, regularly posting large scores, some even over 300.

    So far, this team has proved an ideal breeding ground for players to gain state contracts, with Cameron Green (WA), Xavier Bartlett (QLD) and Jason Sangha (NSW) great examples. The group may be a little out of their depth once again, but I expect they might snare at least snare one victory.
     
    Prediction: The fact is, ladder position is not that important for this team. 7th
     

    South Australia

    Last season: 6th
     
    Squad
    Callum Ferguson ©, Tom Andrews, Alex Carey, Tom Cooper, Michael Cormack, Jake Lehmann, Joe Mennie, Alex Ross, Chadd Sayers, Spencer Johnson, Kelvin Smith, Cameron Valente, Jake Weatherald, Nick Winter, Daniel Worrall.
     
    A difficult season last year for a group that reached the final in 2015/16. No major changes to a very young squad, and the absence of a leader in Travis Head to international duty will hurt. Head has been a powerful force with the bat in this competition before.

    At least for the Redbacks their experienced players are known quality one-day players, however there are lots of fresh faces, so some inconsistent performances are to be expected.

    There will be a lot of expectation on experienced batsmen Callum Ferguson, Tom Cooper and Alex Ross to shoulder the scoring load, but hopefully young talents like Weatherald and Dalton will continue to encourage.

    South Australia have a quality pace bowling attack, but will need to be supported by seasoned batsmen.
     
    Prediction: May surprise, but may also struggle. 6th.
     

    Tasmania

    Last season: 5th
     
    Squad: George Bailey ©, Jackson Bird, Cameron Boyce, Alex Doolan, Jake Doran, Ben Dunk, Andrew Fekete, Ben McDermott, Riley Meredith, Simon Milenko, Sam Rainbird, Tom Rogers, Jordan Silk, Charlie Wakim.
     
    The Tigers are a difficult outfit to predict. New coach Adam Griffith takes on a group that simply needs to improve, and in all formats. Consistency is needed if they are to progress on last year’s fifth-placed finish.

    Experienced slow bowler Xavier Doherty has lost his contract, yet the Tigers receive a boost from Matthew Wade’s return to his home state. Wade will be a most valuable inclusion if he gets to play, surrounded by other class players with international experience like George Bailey, Alex Doolan and Tim Paine.

    This squad cannot be reliant on only a handful of quality players, and if their impressive youngsters such as Ben McDermott, Tom Rogers and Simon Milenko can build on their performances, Tasmania may be somewhat of a wildcard, but a lot would need to go right.

    Having the finals played in Hobart will benefit them greatly should they surprise and sneak a place.
     
    Prediction: 5th
     

    Victoria

    Last season: 3rd
     
    Squad: Cameron White ©, Wes Agar, Scott Boland, Travis Dean, Seb Gotch, Sam Harper, Marcus Harris, John Hastings, Jon Holland, Will Pucovski, Matt Short, Peter Siddle, Blake Thomson, Chris Tremain.
     
    The Victorians – often finalists in this competition – will suffer from losing Matthew Wade and Marcus Stoinis to the Tigers and Warriors respectively. Sam Harper will likely become the side’s full-time keeper.

    Like in the first-class arena, Victoria have an excellent bowling attack with top quality quicks well supported by the spin of Holland.

    Probably the biggest question is whether Cameron White can continue his history of powering runs in this tournament. His side may need some typically vintage performances from himself and other experienced players like John Hastings and Peter Siddle.

    This side will sorely miss their players on international duty, as adding names like Glenn Maxwell, Aaron Finch and Peter Handscomb into this outfit would just about see them clear favourites to win the entire thing.

    There are some inexperienced young players in this squad, but at the same time, fans can look forward to seeing them in action. Victoria may not quite have the depth to go all the way this time, but as usual, expect to see them highly competitive.
     
    Prediction: 4th
     

    New South Wales

    Last season: 2nd (eventual winner)
     
    Squad: Sean Abbott, Doug Bollinger, Harry Conway, Ed Cowan, Mickey Edwards, Ryan Gibson, Daniel Hughes, Jay Lenton, Nathan Lyon, Nic Maddinson, Arjun Nair, Peter Nevill, Kurtis Patterson, Gurinder Sandhu.
     
    Back-to-back winners the Blues have dominated this tournament in recent times, and enter this campaign with a young squad that is still good enough to challenge again. The group remains similar to last season with the notable omissions of batsmen Ben Rohrer and Ryan Carters.

    Young quick bowlers headline the squad, so be sure to look out for names like Harry Conway and cult figure Mickey Edwards. Let’s not forget the damage Nathan Lyon could do, either.

    The Blues are without some of their best players, particularly Moises Henriques and of course the rest of the players on international duty.

    Who knows, Mitchell Starc may yet make a return in the later stages of the tournament, and opposing teams would be hoping this isn’t the case. Starc is the best quick in the country and has had remarkable success in this tournament before; especially in the 2015/16 season where his 22 wickets at an average under ten saw him named player of the tournament.

    The Blues will benefit from playing four matches in their home state.
     
    Prediction: Side not quite as strong as the last couple of seasons. 3rd.
     

    Queensland

    Last season: First (eventual runner-up)
     
    Squad: Usman Khawaja ©, Joe Burns, Ben Cutting, Brendan Doggett, Jason Floros, Cameron Gannon, Sam Heazlett, Marnus Labuschagne, Michael Neser, James Peirson, Matthew Renshaw, Billy Stanlake, Mitchell Swepson, Jack Wildermuth.
     
    The Bulls have come very close to titles in the past few seasons and can be expected to feature in the finals again.

    Their strong squad boasts a lot of depth and class in their batting, perhaps the biggest factor being just how well captain Usman Khawaja can fare. It’s easy to forget the patch of dominance he enjoyed across two seasons in 2013/14 and 2014/15, where he topped the run-scoring charts for the tournament.

    Queensland have some of the brightest young batting prospects in the country, and one is already forging a place in the test side in Matt Renshaw.

    Both Sam Heazlett and Marnus Labuschagne should impress with the bat if they play, and James Pierson is gradually showing what a powerful batsman and tidy gloveman he is as Chris Hartley’s understudy.

    Ben Cutting has had success in this competition previously with bat and ball, and he will form a quality bowling attack with CA-contracted Billy Stanlake, Mitch Swepson the highly rated leg-spinner and Cameron Gannon who appears a limited-overs specialist quick.

    Queensland are a good chance to run deep in this tournament, however the absence of Chris Lynn, who has not taken up a Queensland contract to focus on his recovery from shoulder surgery, is a significant loss. Lynn is one of the cleanest and most powerful ball-strikers in the land, but has not played a one-day domestic match for the Bulls since 2013.
     
    Prediction: 2nd
     

    Western Australia

    Last season: 4th
     
    Squad: Mitch Marsh (c), Ashton Turner (vc), Cameron Bancroft, Will Bosisto, Josh Inglis, Matt Kelly, Michael Klinger, Simon Mackin, Shaun Marsh, David Moody, Jhye Richardson, D’Arcy Short, Andrew Tye, Jonathan Wells.

    I understand I incorrectly tipped the Warriors to win the corresponding tournament last year, however I again think this power-packed squad can do it. They are almost complete in every area. You know there is serious competition for spots when there is a real possibility one of AJ Tye or Jhye Richardson may miss out.

    Talented all-rounder Ashton Turner leads a side blessed with batting and bowling quality, and I would imagine anything less than an appearance in the finals would be considered a failure for such a strong line-up.

    WA are fortunate to have such depth in all-rounders with Mitchell Marsh, Turner and Ashton Agar, Hilton Cartwright and newly added Marcus Stoinis. With the latter three being in India are unlikely to make an appearance, the Warriors are solid in the top order with the evergreen Michael Klinger and unpredictable but quality Cameron Bancroft among the class of Shaun Marsh.

    They may be a little light on for pure batsmen, and you can expect youngster Josh Inglis or Bancroft to take the gloves with Sam Whiteman’s injury.

    Joel Paris leads a prolific pace attack. The left-armer will bowl alongside much-improved Simon Mackin, young gun Richardson and T20 specialist Tye. The Warriors need to launch again after a disappointing effort last season. The added benefit of playing some matches at home presents a tough task for opponents.
     
    Prediction: Should be making the final with the squad at hand. 1st.