Friday, October 14, 2011

Sixty-Six Sigma: Queensland

Ben Roberts with Matthew Wood

Openers: Wade Townsend and Ryan Broad

It seems a long time ago that the all-powerful Queensland had the insatiable Matthew Hayden and hardened Trevor Barsby walking out to begin the innings. The pair was feared by all other Australian domestic teams. Now ... not so much.

In a squad boasting a combination of the young, the average and journeymen. The openers Townsend and Broad averaged only 25 and 21 for season 2010/11 yet are among the easier selections because no-one else stand outs. With New South Wales' propensity for generating openers of quality, this could be a position reinforced by someone the likes of Phil Jaques or David Warner.

Number Three: Joseph Burns

The most promising young batsmen in Queensland. Burns made his first class debut last season at age 21 and scored a red-ink 140. In three total matches he added a half century and showed much promise for the future. Due to the rebuilding state of Queensland cricket, he will be on a steep learning curve and need to bat at 3 or 4. Support will have to come form a young middle order and expat New South Welshman Peter Forrest .

Middle Order: Chris Lynn and Peter Forrest

Chris Lynn has made a name for himself across the oceans as well due to his ability in the shortest format in the game. Let's hope that a focus on T20 will not harm a genuine Test prospect. Still 20 last season, Lynn's average of 53 was underpinned by two centuries in 9 matches in 2010/11. His hard-hitting style means that he is more suited for slots 4 through 6.
Forrest against Krezja; courtesy:

Peter Forrest is a silky New South Welshman who has represented Australia A in the past. He hopes for more opportunities, "Boof" Lehmann's Queensland hopes for stability and a player with moderate experience to shepherd a young batting squad. He'll have to assume a lot of responsibility and will probably bat at five.

All-Rounder: James Hopes

Will likely captain the team. In 2010/11, Hopes was given significant opportunity to perform with the bat as the top order showed all the solidity of yesterday's bubble bath. The old Maroon war horse duly delivered in his usual unexceptional style in averaging 59; although he could not convert six half centuries into a big score. His bowling was even stronger with 27 wickets at 20 in 7 matches.

Wicket-keeper: Chris Hartley

It feels as though Hartley's been around forever without so much as nudging a place into the national selectors hearts. An average of 29 over 10 matches was a consistent season for the left-hander, especially based on previous seasons. With no competition for his place - and amongst the best behind-the-stumps skills in the nation - he is unlikely to be challenged for his position.

Spinner: Cameron Boyce

While the 'Gabba takes turn - it was the ground at which Shane Warne had some of his greatest successes - Queensland has struggled to develop a quality spinner since the departure of Nathan Hauritz. Cameron Boyce is probably the one spinner selected in this exercise that you can hold your excitement for. A leg break bowler who has taken 14 wickets in 10 matches, but really is just making up the numbers here. Queensland may select Jason Floros as an off-spinning all-rounder and opt for a four-pronged pace attack.

Pacemen: Ryan Harris, Ben Cutting and Luke Feldman

A glut of raw fast bowling talent does exist in Queensland. Outside of the two selected alongside Harris, there are 4 or 5 other prospects that may perhaps render older players such as Chris Swan and Steve Magoffin superfluous to a regenerating Bulls team.

Harris selects himself, but, given the state of his knees and likely international duties, chances of him featuring are remote. Twenty-four year old Ben Cutting and the slightly older Feldman are selected based on promising 2010/11 results. A pair of Australia u19 fast men with famous fathers, Alistair McDermott and Nick Buchanan, are nipping at their heels.  All told, Queensland have a good balance of fast bowling: young and old, fast and slow, accurate and Swan.

Who's locked in?

As captain, Hopes is nearly secure in his position both as a quality leader and in both disciplines. If Forrest finds form, he's likely to cement a position in the middle order to act as the team's middle order enforcer. Cutting could be a good one.

What's disappointing?

On results, the weakest side in the entire Sheffield Shield. However, the Maroons are also the team with perhaps the most potential in the country backed behind youth the calibre of McDermott, Cutting, Burns and Lynn. Outside the fast bowlers, the new regime of loan transactions should, over the next couple of seasons, advocate a move north if you can't get a game for your home state.

Who's next up - or, alternatively, who's loan bait?

Jason Floros is a potential spin bowling all-rounder who relocated from the ACT. He played solidly in three first-class matches in his debut season and should be given more opportunity with Queensland this year. Journeymen Steve Magoffin (RFM), returning to his home state, and Chris Swan (RFM) are next senior cabs off the rank.

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