With both Queensland & Western Australia looking in red-hot contention to secure a top three finish on the JLT Cup points table, the Warriors remain the only undefeated side in the tournament.
Thanks to a strong contribution from Queensland’s top five batsmen and an all-round team effort from their bowling attack, the Bulls made it extremely difficult for Victoria to get a look in which to their credit, they did. Having failed to produce a decent start together for the majority of this years JLT Cup, Australia’s opening duo took minimal risks which resulted in a very, very, very sluggish run rate to start proceedings. The tactic appeared to work for Usman Khawaja and Matt Renshaw though, just knocking the ball around as they picked up the odd boundary here and there, it was a bit faster than a test match innings, but very similar in a sense. Renshaw managed to step it up and finished with 74 from 91 deliveries, while Khawaja looked destine for an easy century before he was dismissed by Fawad Ahmed for a very composed 85. Joe Burns did his best to lift the run rate with two giant sixes, but he lost self control and lost his wicket through a Peter Handscomb stumping. The innings was then finished off by Marnus Labuschagne and Jimmy Peirson who were both able to keep their strike rates hovering above 130+, Labuschagne made 52 and Peirson managed a 27-ball 46. The Bulls bowlers did an outstanding job, albeit getting away from them late in the game, but they managed to drag the Bushrangers back when it counted. Doggett, Gannon, Neser and Swepson all picked up multiple wickets each along with Cutting and Wildermuth who both picked up one-a-piece. The fact that Queensland have so much fire power and scoring potential in their batting line-up gives them the upper hand with the ball, knowing they have the ability to chase down any sort of total the opposition sets them, that then allows Khawaja to set more attacking fields which forces the batsmen to take risks in order to score.
This may well be the battle of the batting line-ups, two largely talented and dominant batting sides will meet and potentially be playing for top spot on the JLT Cup table. Apart from New South Wales Nic Maddinson, Shaun Marsh has been a run-scoring machine in the tournament so far which probably explains why the Warriors are three-straight wins halfway through the competition. A quick recap of Marsh’s tournament, all three matches have been played in Perth and he has thrived off a home ground advantage from the word go. Opening the tournament with a sublime-132 not out against New South Wales, he than backed up that century with a watchful 88 against Victoria, followed by another sixty-plus score against Tasmania. When a player is in a purple patch like this, it can drag on for quite some time, although Marsh’s scores seem to be going down, they haven’t even bottomed out below sixty which is ridiculous. His brother Mitchell isn’t doing to badder job either, captaining the side with two solid back-to-back stints of 47 & 67 not out with the bat may well have seen this tournament for the Warriors become a family-dominated one. It may sound strange, but the fact that Michael Klinger hasn’t had his best tournament so far is a huge positive for Western Australia, winning without Klinger’s dominance shows they have plenty of scoring options. Losing Jason Behrendorff and Andrew Tye to the Australian T20 team is a huge blow, but the Warriors replacements such as Matt Kelly and Simon Mackin were economical against the Tigers and managed to pick up some wickets.
Players To Watch…
You can almost feel a big score bottling up under the surface for Joe Burns, he’s overdue for an innings like that the way he’s approached this years JLT Cup. Aggressive stroke play + intent to score = calculated risks, that’s the path Burns has taken and although he hasn’t produced anything of significance as of yet, it’s been exciting nevertheless. Renshaw and Khawaja are the consolidators at the top of the order, but Joe Burns is the barometer who can increase the run rate within an over and he’s a big chance to post his first sizable score against a bowling attack missing two key components. Marnus Labuschagne has become Queensland’s best middle order batsman in one-day cricket to date, he’s already scored two half centuries in three JLT Cup matches this year and doesn’t look like stopping there. This could well be a breakout domestic season for Labuschagne who impressed in last years Matador Cup, but he’s already shown signs of surpassing those expectations and could register triple figures for the Bulls soon enough. If ever the Bulls had a go-to bowler for any particular reason, it would have to be Michael Neser. He’s a walk-in starter in this Queensland side, he’s become more relied upon due to the fact that Ben Cutting has struggled significantly to fulfill his potential with the ball. Neser has four wickets in the tournament, but expect that to rise with a couple of crucial games coming up where the 27-year-old will be heavily relied upon to impact some results.
How can we go past Shaun Marsh? the Warriors opener is averaging a whopping-141 for the 2017 JLT Cup, having scored 282 runs from three matches. Also known as a sub-continent specialist for the Australian cricket team, Marsh appears to thrive off home conditions just as much with the past three matches for Western Australia being played in Perth. Heading over to Drummoyne Oval in New South Wales, it will be fascinating to see if Marsh can maintain this purple patch he currently finds himself in. It’s been a fairly-forgettable tournament for Ashton Turner who finds himself in a pretty tough situation having scored just seven runs for the tournament and conceding a hefty amount of runs when he has been handed the ball. Turner can not be discarded in this Warriors line-up though, he’s a genuine big hitting middle order batsman who is placed in that rare category of X factors that can turn a match on it’s head in a matter of overs. His consistency suggests otherwise, but that shouldn’t discount him from having a day out with the bat. Turner is also a handy wicket taker with his right-arm offbreaks, more so for the Scorchers in the BBL. At one point he was hinted to be Australia’s next wicketkeeper in test cricket, well Cameron Bancroft didn’t quite achieve that accolade but he hasn’t done any damage to his chances since. A very consistent performer in the Warriors top order, Bancroft has scored 116 runs in his three JLT Cup games including 59 against Victoria in Perth.
Top 5 fantasy picks | Queensland | JLT Cup | 14th match | Sydney
- Usman Khawaja
- Marnus Labuschagne
- Michael Neser
- Joe Burns
- Cameron Gannon
Top 5 fantasy picks | Western Australia | JLT Cup | 14th match | Sydney
- Shaun Marsh
- Mitchell Marsh
- Cameron Bancroft
- David Moody
- Michael Klinger
Queensland (possible) – 1. Matthew Renshaw 2. Usman Khawaja (c) 3. Joe Burns 4. Marnus Labuschagne 5. Jimmy Peirson (wk) 6. Ben Cutting 7. Jack Wildermuth 8. Michael Neser 9. Mitchell Swepson 10. Cameron Gannon 11. Brendan Doggett.
Western Australia (possible) – 1. Michael Klinger 2. Shaun Marsh 3. Cameron Bancroft (wk) 4. Mitchell Marsh (c) 5. Ashton Turner 6. Hilton Cartwright/Jonathan Wells 7. D’Arcy Short 8. Jhye Richardson 9. Matthew Kelly 10. David Moody 11. Simon Mackin.
Zak Varik is an Australian columnist/writer who specializes in the sports category cricket. With over four years of experience covering all sorts of cricket tournaments around the world, Zak has gained extensive knowledge in International cricket as well as domestic.
“I’ve loved watching cricket since I was about 7 years old, my childhood hero was none other than Andrew “Roy” Symonds who probably enhanced my love of the game through the years”.
Zak is now an established writer for FCN (Fantasy Cricket News) and has also previously represented other Blogs during his time as a writer.