TIME FOR GLOVES TO COME OFF!
Wednesday 5 October 2011
The mighty XXXX GOLD Queensland Bulls have the chance to kick-off their 2011-12 season with a big win over arch rivals Victoria in the first match of the Ryobi Cup on Sunday.
While the selectors are holding off on naming the Bulls side until later in the week, we do know a few things already about the make-up of the Bushrangers.
And it is the names of those Victorians away on national duty with the Australian T20 side that should have the Bulls aiming up at the chance to nail their southern counterparts.
Cameron White, David Hussey, Aaron Finch, Matthew Wade and James Pattinson will all be in South Africa when the one-day domestic competition begins at the Gabba.
White and Hussey have been regular contributors for the Vics while Wade and Pattinson had strong summers in the shorter form of the game last year.
Keeper Wade was the competitionâ€™s second leading run scorer and Pattinson impressed many with his speed and swing with the new ball.
With that list of quality players away, the depth of the Victorians will be tested.
They do have some younger players to step up, as well as class performers like Brad Hodge, Andrew McDonald and Peter Siddle still in their ranks.
But the Bulls should definitely be looking to take advantage of an under-strength opposition.
And when that opposition is the Vics, long-time nemesis of the Maroons, then you make sure they feel every bit of it.
Speaking of feeling, the atmosphere amongst the Bullsâ€™ playing group at present is exceptional.
There is an air of excitement and quiet confidence, as most of the boys feel ready to tackle the summer ahead following a terrific offseason.
Coach Lehmann, assisted by his support staff, put together a brilliant winter program.
The boys are in top shape, physically and skill wise, and are just keen for the season to simply get underway.
At this point Iâ€™d normally nominate a few players who I think might shine a bit brighter than the rest but in all honestly, I canâ€™t.
The batting group as a whole has shown huge improvements and trying to pick out one or two is simply not possible.
I think anyone in our top six could dominate, because watching everyone in the nets over the last two weeks has been extremely encouraging.
Each batsman is looking positive with crisp footwork and sharp decision-making.
Likewise the bowlers.
A number of guys, like Cameron Gannon, Ali McDermott and Scott Walter, have put on a yard or two of pace, while Ben Cutting is definitely back to his quickest.
Given their workloads, the decisive factor will be who stays fit over the long summer but again, anyone could lead the pack.
Irrespective of who tops the runs or wickets list by March, the fact is this Queensland Bulls unit could not be more prepared.
So with that, Bulls fans can prepare for the team to launch into the season with a big win.