Marnus Labuschagne was again the immovable object while returning Mitchell Starc showed glimpses of his irresistible force as first-day honours were shared between NSW and Queensland in the Sheffield Shield.
The newly named domestic one day cricket competition in Australia – known as the Matador BBQs One-Day Cup due to sponsors rights – is just over a week away from beginning.
Over the next six days I’ll be giving you an in-depth look at every team and their chances for the competition, being played in both New South Wales and Queensland this year.
First up will be last year’s premiers, the Queensland Bulls.
By the end of last season’s tournament they were far and away the best team, with five wins and one loss. They were incredibly dominant, with the sole loss coming against the Tasmanian Tigers by 4 runs.
The Bulls ended up progressing to straight to the final to play the New South Wales Blues, winning by four wickets chasing down 317 with five balls to spare on a road of a pitch at North Sydney Oval.
This time round fewer than half the games are being held in Queensland. As such they will be looking to make the most of their home ground advantage early in the tournament and get away to a flying start before the tournament comes back to NSW.
James Hopes will captain the Bulls once again, with experienced wicketkeeper Chris Hartley going around yet again. Add exciting youngsters like Ben Cutting and Alister McDermott and they could go all the way again this season.
A major loss for the Bulls however is Ryan Harris, who is continuing to recover from knee surgery.
1. Usman Khawaja
2. Chris Hartley (wk)
3. Joe Burns
4. Peter Forrest
5. Chris Lynn
6. Nathan Reardon
7. Ben Cutting
8. James Hopes (c)
9. Cameron Boyce
10. Alister Mcdermott
11. Cameron Gannon
Players to watch
Cutting had an awesome domestic one-day cup last season, scoring 195 runs at an average of 97.50 in four innings at a strike rate of 174.10, the highest in the competition, scoring 12 fours and 17 sixes. His number of sixes during the tournament was only second to David Warner of NSW.
Couple this with 10 wickets (equal sixth in the tournament), and a strike rate of a wicket every 31.2 balls and it’s clear why Cutting is so important to Queensland.
If they are to have a strong season expect him to play a huge part.
Khawaja, like Cutting, had a brilliant season last year and played a massive part in the well-oiled Queensland machine that won the tournament. Khawaja alway laid the platform for the middle and lower order to come in swinging, being the second highest run scorer in the tournament, only beaten by Warner.
Khawaja scored 426 runs at an average of 71 with a strike rate of 86.23, passing 50 on four occasions out of seven innings. His 104 in the final guided his side to victory.
Queensland’s mix of experience and youth is a massive asset. With players like Hopes and Hartley leading the way for the likes of Cameron Gannon, McDermott and Cutting it is easy to see why this team did so well last year, and why they are expected to continue their winning ways into this season.
The Bulls’ lack of spin options could hurt them, especially on some of these suburban grounds. Cameron Boyce is the only spinner in their squad and he is relatively inexperienced.
If he is to drop out of form or pick up an injury it could create some major headaches.
Game 1: Queensland versus Victoria fourth October @ the Gabba (Start time 9:30 am)
Game 2: Queensland versus New South Wales sixth October @ Allan Border Field (Start time 9:30am)
Game 3: New South Wales versus Queensland 10th October @ The Gabba (Start time 1:00pm)
Game 4: South Australia versus Queensland 12th October @ Allan Border Field (Start time 9:30am)
Game 5: Queensland versus Victoria 14th October @ North Sydney (Start time 10:00am)
Game 6: Queensland versus Tasmania 18th October @ North Sydney (Start time 10:00am)
Game 7: Western Australia versus Queensland 2second October @ Bankstown Oval (Start time 10:00am)
Queensland should be able to pick up at least three easy wins against Western Australia, Tasmania and South Australia, although they lost their only game against Tasmania last year, so anything can happen.
The other four games are against NSW and Victora, so they do have a tough draw, but they should most certainly make the top three.
Last year’s premiers certainly look like they could be in with a shot at going all the way again in 2014.
Tomorrow we check out NSW.