The Queensland Bulls finished top of the Bupa Sheffield Shield ladder and will fancy their chances of claiming the title with home ground advantage. Here's five reasons the Bulls will win.
1. It’s at the Gabbatoir
Home ground advantage in the Shield final is worth more than first dibs on the buffet at lunch and knowing where the two-hour parking zones are around the Gabba. Just drawing the final as hosts will make Queensland the winners. Now consider Queensland's form at the Gabbatoir this season: won five of six, including an innings and 28 run victory over Tasmania.
2. They bowl better
The Bulls bowling attack hunts as a pack, or should that be herd? At any rate, even when leading wicket-taker Ben Cutting and his 36 wickets missed the final match against South Australia, Queensland’s four seamers Ryan Harris, Steve Magoffin, Alister McDermott and James Hopes all returned decent figures. “I think the way the bowlers stuck at it in both innings was exceptional and it bodes well for the final,” said captain Hopes after the win over the Redbacks. “The best thing about it was we were quite boring ... we all just decided to hit one area and keep bashing through that area, trying something different every now and then, and it worked.” In fact Harris, Magoffin, McDermott and Cutting all have more than 17 wickets at an average under 20.
Darren ‘Boof’ Lehman, the former South Australian run machine, has turned around the Bulls fortunes after a disappointing 2011-12 season. Lehman kept his head during a mid-season slump and still steered his side into a final. He has brought his approach to life to running the Bulls: call a spade a spade but having some fun. Here’s how Lehman said his team will approach the final: “Naturally there would be some nerves but I have just asked them to embrace the week, have fun and see what happens. It’s a simple game complicated by coaches a lot of the time. We won’t play negative cricket. We haven’t all year. We won’t change that approach.”
4. No Ricky Ponting distractions
Did you know this is Ricky Ponting’s first Sheffield Shield final? He’s 36, did you know? He’s probably Tasmania’s favourite son, after Boonie. Do it for Ricky. He used to be Australian captain. He was having a bad run until he scored a cracking hundred in Sydney against India. Did we mention he was playing in a Shield final for the first time? You know he’s 36 right? Do it for Ricky. Every member of the Tasmanian team whose last name is not Ponting is going to get sick of that conversation very quickly.
5. Queenslanders win things
Step forward national sporting clubs who have won things: Brisbane Roar, yes you won the A League – undefeated in fact; Queensland Firebirds – you had a 100% record in 2011; Queensland State of Origin, you guys have won, like, six years in a row; the Queensland Reds, nice to see an Australian team lift the Super Rugby trophy again. Queensland Bulls? Does anyone from Tasmania still fancy their chances?
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia