Sheffield Shield previews: Western Australia and Queensland

Queensland

Last season Fourth (League stage: 3 wins, 5 defeats, 2 draws)
Captain Usman Khawaja
Coach Wade Seccombe

2018-19 stats

Overview

Queensland had a tough 2018-19 season after winning the Shield in 2017-18. While their attack remained essentially the same and delivered consistent performances on a Gabba track that suited their skilled seamers, the batting was not as prolific. Despite having three men on the cusp of the Test side in their top order, Sam Heazlett was the only player to score a century last season and bowling allrounder Michael Neser was the only player to average over 40, after making five half-centuries batting at No. 7 for most of the season. The surfaces played a part but a lot of half-centuries did go uncapitalized. Their top order will be loaded at the start of this season and there will be some decisions to make surrounding who bats where. Notionally, Joe Burns and Matt Renshaw would open to try and push for Test selection with Usman Khawaja batting at No. 3 and Marnus Labuschagne at No. 4. But Labuschagne is the Test No. 3 and Khawaja may see an opportunity to claim an opening spot in the Test side given his record in that position. The retirement of long-time servant Luke Feldman leaves a sizable hole in a well-rounded attack. But Billy Stanlake’s re-emergence as a red-ball cricketer was an exciting development last season and Neser’s ability to bat at No.7, plus the all-round capabilities of Jack Wildermuth, gives Queensland the chance to use Stanlake wisely for maximum impact.

Player to watch

Joe Burns’ start to the season will be monitored closely. Last season he was affected by the post-viral fatigue issues he was eventually diagnosed with in the early part of the winter. He did well to get back and play on the Australia A tour of England and made a century against Sussex. That innings, combined with his 180 against Sri Lanka in the Canberra Test, as well as England decimating Australia’s left-handed openers in the Ashes makes his omission from the Ashes squad look even more perplexing in hindsight. Despite four centuries in 16 Tests, Burns curiously continues to need to prove his credentials. He will need runs early in the Shield season to earn a fifth recall to the Test team.

Young gun

It’s hard to call a man who has played 11 Tests, and has a Test century, a young gun but Matt Renshaw is the youngest of Queensland’s regulars and is a player many are expecting to rise again. At just 23, he still has so much time to forge a path at international level. He slipped out of Test calculations after a poor summer last year but there is a lot of excitement about his form in the pre-season and his potential to elevate his game in limited-overs cricket. There are opposition state coaches who believe he has all the tools to be Australia’s Test match opener long-term. Some big scores early in the season will not do his chances any harm.